May 2012

MPS Customer Stages

The Four Stages of the MPS Customer: Moving Past the Low-Hanging Fruit

By: Mike Huster & Misty Gonzalez, Photizo Group

Managed print service (MPS) contracts can be lucrative, but how can you ensure your contract is profitable? Successful contracts come down to relationships based on an in-depth understanding of customers’ imaging environments, needs, and goals.

Photizo Group’s Customer Adoption Model identifies what is most important for customers through each phase of the MPS adoption process, based on responses from thousands of MPS decision makers surveyed in Photizo’s MPS Decision Maker Tracking Study™. This data-driven model is a framework for classifying customers and understanding the needs of those customers at each stage of the MPS life cycle. Using this model, which is widely accepted throughout the industry, providers are able to structure the MPS engagement for each unique situation and prevent themselves from wasting time pitching the wrong solution.


In the first stage of the model, the object is to gain control and understanding of a customer’s current fleet. This involves centralized decision making regarding the imaging environment that will need to be put into place. The number of devices, how they are being utilized, and user requirements will need to be assessed. The vendor and customer will need to understand how corporate culture will respond to any changes in the current environment.

In Stage 2, the fleet will undergo changes as the vendor and customer optimize the fleet and manage assets. This includes consolidating devices, right-sizing the current fleet, and deploying new assets where necessary. This stage also requires ongoing and proactive fleet management, including redeploying, updating, and removing devices as needed to improve operating costs and meet expected savings.

Stage 3 looks beyond fleet improvement to business-process improvement and includes professional services and consulting to optimize workflow. Document-management solutions are also a key part of this stage, in which the customer improves business processes and moves many processes from hard copy to digital.

In Stage 4, the document-management solutions developed by vendors for Stage 3 meet the broader business process outsourcing (BPO) of system integrators and IT managed service providers. This is a natural and logical confluence because documents, in the broadest sense, lie at the heart of most business processes.

In this stage, customers demand more than just a solution to manage the documents involved in a business process. They want to outsource management of the complete business process. This provides a huge new growth opportunity for MPS providers, but it also introduces an entirely new level of competition. IT managed service providers see this as their rightful domain — and it is no coincidence that many of them are starting to include print in their offerings.

Today, the majority of MPS customers have accomplished Stages 1 and 2, in part because that level of service is the extent of many MPS vendors’ capabilities. These stages are vital, but they are the low-hanging fruit for both the customer and the vendor. The reality is that Stages 3 and 4 require a significantly different set of skills and abilities from MPS vendors compared to Stages 1 and 2. The first two stages are focused on infrastructure. In these stages, a vendor’s ability to assess, deploy, service, and manage assets is critical to the success of its MPS program. However, for the latter stages, a vendor must be able to consult with its customers, analyzing business workflows and transaction streams in order to identify areas of improvement. An intimate understanding of a customer’s industry and business is necessary to continue to move the customer past the low-hanging fruit.

Learn more about navigating customer requirements at Photizo’s Transform 2012 conference. Each educational track addresses issues arising in each stage of the Customer Adoption Model. Learn more at

About Mike Huster
Director of Client Services at Photizo Group, Mike Huster has worked in the hard copy and technology industry for more than 20 years. He has worked for IBM and Lexmark in a variety of management positions in engineering, sales, finance, e-commerce, and worldwide marketing. Recognizing the MPS trend, Huster seized the opportunity to join Photizo as a senior partner in 2006.

About Misty Gonzalez
Director of Media and Publishing at Photizo, Misty Gonzalez has been with the company since 2008, serving as editor of services content, publisher of the MPS Insights Journal and She has a degree in Print and Multimedia Journalism from Emerson College.

About Photizo Group
Photizo Group is the premier research and consulting firm in the imaging industry and has the largest team of dedicated industry analysts. The acquisition of Lyra Research united two market leaders to create the broadest, most comprehensive line of market intelligence and consulting services in the industry to date. Photizo goes beyond simply gathering data to guides client through a successful transformation as the industry moves from a product-led to a services-led model.