What MDS Should Mean to a CIO

I have been in the IT environment for all of my adult life and with that, I have heard countless organizations claim that they can revolutionize the way companies do business.  To this day, there have only been a few companies that have really changed the way they do business that can directly change the way their customers do business.  Even less often is a company that sells you something that your organization can learn from itself and become a better business; not by implementing their solution, but by learning about the development of the solution itself.

To date, it seems like there is a bunch of buzz flying around the business world and some of this is around Managed Document Services.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion as to what this really means and what it should mean to a company looking for an MDS solution.  The hype and interest stems from research that indicates engaging in a MDS or MPS partnership can save a large organization between 10 and 30 percent on the print budget and up to 5 % of their overall budget.  Imagine what kind of innovation your organization can now invest in with even a 10% reduction in operating costs in your IT budget.

I must admit, until recently I thought I knew what MDS was.  I thought that it was another fad  someone was selling to take over a printer fleet and place more output devices.  Well no, that’s printer fleet management.  MDS is far more than that.  MDS is a strategy to manage documents in an organization by providing the right services to implement and develop a plan for that organization to understand and change the way they have been doing business, inside of their organization.

A Managed Document Services endeavor needs to invest in more than a vendor that can take over a printer fleet and provide break-fix services and consumables.  A Managed Document Services program needs to change the way you have traditionally thought about your document environment.  This means, an MDS solution needs to show you what you have in place already and help you develop the strategies and processes for you to take ownership of your document environment, teach you how to change the way your organization thinks about the way it has been conducting business internally, and develop new processes to effectively impact your legacy processes by utilizing tools and solutions that can streamline your document efficiency, both before and after output.

Does that sound like Printer Fleet management to you? No, and you can’t let someone sell you printer fleet management with a pretty new title.  Companies have been doing it for years, and it has proven time and time again that it doesn’t work.

To truly impact your organization the way it is sold to you, there needs to be more than consumables involved.  There needs to be things like Change Management involved, there needs to be things like IMACD policies in place, and there needs to be things like long term strategies involved, these cannot come to you in a one or two month engagement; these are things that take time.  If you are told that you will realize a huge immediate benefit you are being lied to.  To truly impact your business; it takes time, resources, and know how.  That’s why they call it Managed Document Services.

If you think about the term management for a minute, you can really start to dissect what the title Managed Document Services really means.  If you take the literal meaning of management you would think about something like Miriam Webster’s definition:

1: the act or art of managing: the conducting or supervising of something (as a business)
2: judicious use of means to accomplish an end
3: the collective body of those who manage or direct an enterprise

In what part of that definition do you see the words “quick fix?”  Effective management takes time, intelligence, and business awareness.  A good manager does more than fire off instructions to his teams.  A good manager will work with employees to develop their skill sets by building on their strengths, accomplish business objectives, and do so in an effective and cost efficient manner.

This means that your management has to know your business to improve it, change it, develop it, or make it more efficient.  If you are not engaged in a long term strategy to do this, you are only getting a snapshot in time of what someone thinks your environment is and that is not what Managed Document Services is all about.

Bottom line, if you are shopping for a partner to help you manage your document strategy and remove the stress of your print environment from your IT teams, you need to make sure they understand the intricacies of your business and are willing to take the time to help your company and your people realize the benefits of a fully managed document services strategy, regardless of who makes your output devices.

“Every good conversation I have in an IT meeting ends with a bad conversation about printing”

About Joe D

I have always had a passion for everything computing. In early 2000, I decided to take my passion to the web. Thus, C.O.D. was born. Through the years we have made many great friends at C.O.D. and hope to continue our journey for years to come.

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