The New Eco-Warriers
Updated: Dec 4, 2018
I was at a fancy dinner party a few years ago – and I’m sure many of you will feel my pain – because I was wondering what I’d do IF the attractive women by the punch bowl asked “so what do you do for a living”
Because let’s face it, there’s just no way to make “I work in PRINT” sexy.
But you’re an MPS’er right? And if you’re not then here’s the reason why you should be.
As an MPS’er at the cutting edge of this revolution, whether you realize it or not, you save trees. You save water AND you save energy. You’re a fully fledged member of the new breed of Eco Warriors and you can make a real difference.
Now that sounds like a damn sight more interesting job doesn't it?
So how do we make this stuff real? The KEY is ACCOUNTABILITY, and accountability is the byword of a Managed Print Service.
Businesses are starting to move beyond the question of whether or not it pays to be GREEN. Their priority is to maintain competitiveness and create business value.
It is now widely accepted that environmental issues may be mitigated by increasing resource efficiency, improving sustainability, while retaining the basic system of capitalist production and consumption. Within this situation becoming GREEN is no longer a problem, but an opportunity.
Of course, there are always two sides to a story and this one is no different. In many cases I'll be trying to explain the benefits from both the end user and MPS provider's viewpoint.
What it means to be Green
So what does it MEAN to be GREEN? Well being green simply means to consider the environmental impact of something, in this case printing, and to put in place steps to reduce that impact.
This is the single biggest hurdle an MPS provider will face when selling the environmental benefits of MPS - OR IS IT? Certainly when I first started talking to businesses about MPS not only did I not talk about it, I would never have imagined there would be too much interest in the GREEN benefits. But sales people look for points of difference, something unique that we call our Value Proposition and we are fortunate that with a MPS approach we have a number of these to offer over and above an organisations typical ad-hoc approach to purchasing and maintaining print devices.
However, Barriers to Environmental Adoption of new business technology or process remain and tend to fall into two categories: internal and external barriers. Let's have a look at the key ones.
Certifiers/verifiers - Who can a reseller rely on to independently certify the GREENESS of their own MPS program and how do they actually verify it does what it says on the tin to their customers?
Economics - Most easily overcome in many respects, it’s now very easy to link the environmental benefits of MPS to actual cost savings. In short, it makes economic AND environmental sense.
Institutional weaknesses - The print industry may have been slow on the uptake but governments have been even slower. However in Australia at least, that changed with the introduction of the Carbon Tax. This initiative is a great thing for anyone involved in MPS. Furthermore, it might come as a surprise to learn that Australia’s greatest trading partner, China, is at the forefront of environmentally sustainable business practices.
The Chinese government, as part of their current 5 year plan are pursuing an initiative called the Circular Economy which in essence is the GREENING of the supply chain of any business that interacts with another during the business relationship. What a huge opportunity this represents for any business capable of establishing a credible presence and with a robust Environmental Program such as MPS.
Support and guidance - Of course this represents another opportunity for those providers of MPS. This is the essence of consulting and the rise of environmental consultants shows that businesses are keen to gain the support and guidance these companies provide and of course, consultants aren't free. It's my experience that this is one of the biggest self inflicted barriers a reseller will put in their own path - they just don't see themselves as consultants. This is the paradigm shift needed to turn a print reseller into an MPS provider. MPS is not a commodity; your customers are looking for support and guidance and will pay for it.
Resources - To effectively deliver a GREEN MPS it's absolutely crucial that both parties commit enough. If you're a provider I would go so far as to suggest you walk away if your prospect is not prepared to commit to this. A MPS can turn into a very time consuming piece of business and without the right resource it often just peters out into nothing or falls well short of the original objectives leaving both provider and end user feeling unsatisfied.
Understanding and perception - In many cases the end user may not realise there are any environmental benefits to an MPS, it's all about PRINT right?
Implementation - End users are busy doing what they do. In many cases in these post GFC days, people's workloads are increasing and the thought of providing an implementation team can be a significant barrier.
Attitudes and company culture - this is top down and one of the key reasons why resellers should look to gain an Executive Sponsor from the very highest level within their customer.
Why you should care?
If it's not already abundantly clear, the environmental benefits of an MPS provide huge opportunities for any potential MPS provider. To summarise, they allow you to transition from a supplier of commodity products and services to a true consulting partner. For the end user; being able to implement an MPS that delivers clear, tangible and ongoing GREEN benefits that happen to lead to better, more efficient processes and in many cases, significant costs savings is really a NO BRAINER.
Just do it
What to measure?
Paper reduction - There are lots of statistics out there for how much paper you save by implementing an MPs but I know for a fact it will be A LOT. Probably the most impressive example I've come across was a government institution that was using 2 million printed pages a year. In the first 12 months after switching to an MPS they printed 1 million. That's not only a 50% reduction but a simply staggering 1 million pages saved. Measuring paper reduction obviously helps to report on cost savings but a number of GREEN benefits relate to paper reduction.
Trees – To start with there's trees. It is estimated that a single tree can provide ten thousand sheets of A4 paper. 1 million pages saved equates to 100 trees, that's a significant amount.
Water – Water is also saved as it takes an estimated 50 litres of water to produced one ream of paper. So if we take our admittedly slightly extreme example of 1 million pages saved we can assume an estimated 100,000 litres
Electricity - The reduction in Electricity seen by the implementation of a MPS is typically measured in Kilowatt hours. In addition to the cost savings the GREEN benefit we are interested in is the associated reduction in CO2. For every KwH of electricity saved there is almost 1 kilogram reduction of CO2, assuming your electricity is generated by coal powered stations as is the cast for the vast majority of electricity supplied in Australia.
How to measure?
At the start I used the term ACCOUNTABILITY, and that's the key. As an MPS provider it is very likely that you will be accountable for delivering these GREEN benefits so it stands to reason that you need a pretty robust way of measuring the GREEN savings you just delivered.
However, unless you establish a clear baseline at the beginning of your engagement you simply cannot provide any credible, meaningful information to the end user and if you can't do that then the end user cannot obtain any true value or competitive advantage from their engagement with you.
So the answer is simple: do an audit. Without getting into the arguments around audits and whether they should ideally be independently delivered it is true that the value of the whole MPS program is directly linked to the quality for any audit undertaken. Do a poor, basic, CHEAP audit and you will not be able to deliver an effective MPS.
Fortunately for you there are some clever people out there who have developed technology to help you do this. Whilst I'm not here to recommend one piece of technology over another it's clear that you need to be offering this as a solution to your customers either directly yourself or by partnering with a consultant with expertise in this area.
I love my printer
Who to tell?
A massive barrier to the initial decision to implement an MPS and also the ongoing success of your program is the level of BUY IN from your customer's employees; the people who will actual use what you deliver.
Try and identify the key user influencers. For example, in many cases you may install a proof of concept to be used by the Directors and their PAs. Obviously the success of this is crucial so make sure you have your plan in place well before you implement here.
If your customer has a CSR division these can be ideal places to install a POC. They will often be instrumental in driving their business towards an MPs in the first place and will more than likely have a vested interest in seeing it succeed.
How to tell?
Okay so now you are busy gathering all the information you need on the GREEN benefits your MPS is delivering, how do you turn it into messaging that your customers will be interested in?
In the early days I used to go around telling users how much money their business was going to save and guess what? They didn't care. In fact it made them more upset that we would be removing their beloved printer just to save a few pennies. But talk to people in terms of the environmental benefits and all of sudden the levels of support internally grows. No one wants to be seen not to have an environmental conscious.
A coordinated communication plan is an essential part of any GREEN MPS program. It serves to reinforce the key messages you are delivering. And your comms plan should include regular emails, posters placed above newly installed devices and in common areas and key note addresses by company executives.
More and more companies are publicly committing to GREEN targets and publishing the results via press releases, their websites, social media and annual reports.
The important thing is you make your messaging obvious and easily related to by the users. Find out what's important to them and deliver against it.
Try to be creative but always relevant.
or example, one enlightened company supports a wind farm project as part of their CSR so it made sense to relate electricity savings to the power consumption of an average family home.
People can relate to saving trees so talk to your customer in terms of how many Trees they've saved.
Tell them how much Water consumption has been reduced and link it something familiar like the amount of showers as mentioned.
This is just a brief overview of how you might approach introducing your clients to the environmental benefits of a MPS. If you would like to discuss any of this in more detail please get in touch.