The current set of articles about Lean Management in MPS has driven us on understanding how the principles of Lean impact the printer manufacturer, the distributor and the dealer. It is appropriate to recuperate now the sentence that better defines Lean management: creating more value for customers with fewer resources (Lean Enterprise Institute ). Lean is oriented on producing value for the customer. That’s also the goal of any MPS program: to satisfy the need of customers in terms of printing. This activity is cumbersome, expensive and full of inefficiency. The customer knows it and demands help to handle its printing resources.
There is no magic behind it: these negative aspects flow from the customer up to the dealer who assumes the tasks (see part 3 and 4 ). An MPS program that aims to last must include the identification and neutralization of the perverse consequences for the dealer. By doing so the customer benefits to much higher extent than initially expected:
- Cost benefits:
As previously seen in this set of articles, all the stakeholders experience a cost reduction. As a natural consequence, part of this cost reduction flows down to the customer. What the customer should then expect is a neat cost per page, free of hidden “surprises” like cartridges getting lost or waste of toner. This is different to a cost per page where the customer is still responsible for ordering the cartridges, managing any local stock or installing the new cartridge with no support other than by the criteria of the printer user. Under an MPS service, the customer’s responsibility is limited to pay for a pre-agreed cost per page. Proposals different to this must not be used to compare prices: the amount of hidden costs is such that it wouldn’t be fair nor for the customer nor for the remaining MPS providers. It would be like comparing apples to oranges.
- Service benefits:
An MPS solution that bundles lean components is efficiency proof. The Dealer processes have a continuous improvement mechanism. Any deviation from the desired results is identified and corrected. The printer or copier is managed in a proactive manner, case by case, eliminating any risk of running out of toner. The technical service is also improved with automatic mechanisms that facilitate opening a ticket with little hassle; their follow-up is facilitated in a way that the quality control is made easy to the customer. In other words, the customer is fully subcontracting the management of his/her printers and copiers. Someone else coordinates and executes all actions required to have them up and running. And the good thing is that the customer gets the visibility that he/she never had before, when it was himself performing this task.
- Strategic alignment:
A lean approach in MPS generates tons of useful information. The distribution flow is fully controlled and results in cost reductions for all stakeholders. But the printing behavior, the technical reliability of the printers, the status of the different supply components in each printer and copier are valuable information to identify to which extend there is a reason to renew a device. In an environment where the goal is to print when needed and at the best possible cost, the decision to replace a printer or copier is not based anymore on its age; instead, the question that MPS answers is whether or not the existing printer is the best possible option for the actual needs of the user.
- Environmental responsibility:
Most, if not all the companies have embraced an environmental objective. The printing activity does exist in all companies, to a higher or less degree. So everybody, from the largest corporations to SOHO (small office – home office) and even private printer owners should think about this. Most people believe that their environmental objectives are met by the simple act of depositing the used cartridge in the recycling basket. Is it still true when there is 15% of remaining toner inside the cartridge? Is the footprint the same for the cartridges that are disposed of properly and for those that are refilled? The answer is a no. There are huge differences in terms of total CO2 emissions. Once again, an advanced MPS system will handle all this to the point that it can measure to which extend each individual printer is properly managed from the point of view of reducing CO2 emissions.
MPS and Lean management go hand in hand in an MPS solution. The benefits for all stakeholders justify it. It’s just common sense. The largest organizations like hardware manufacturers and the distributors are familiar with this. They know the value of controlling and minimizing costs. The customers have been suffering from the inefficiencies of the printing distribution model where all costs were of their responsibility; and they have been paying for it. Now that the dealers are being asked to assume a bigger role in the process, it is mandatory that MPS software vendors educate on what they can do with their product, and what are the risks they do not cope with. Unfortunately, most of the current tools in the market are just tracking tools. They just can’t be used to manage MPS; so do not even think about applying lean management with a tracking tool, or even a monitoring tool, if this is all you have to support your MPS offering.