In a Blog article last December, LRS Vice President John Runions outlined a new services offering his group was launching in response to customer demand. The LRS Managed Services solution offers organizations the benefits of the proven LRS enterprise output management suite without the burden of managing printers, queues, software & driver updates, etc. In short, customers pay for reliable printing and let LRS staff worry about how to make that happen.
Since then, the solution has evolved with changing market requirements. I sat down with John Runions to learn about LRS Managed Services in greater detail.
MB: So, the last ten months have seen a lot of changes in the world of enterprise computing. What has been the market reaction to the LRS Managed Services solution?
JR: Obviously, it’s a very different world now than it was back in 2019, but the COVID pandemic hasn’t made environments any easier to manage. If anything, things are more complex. The people who used to keep print networks up and running are wearing lots of different hats these days.
MB: Printing’s less of a priority for them?
JR: No, it’s still important, and document failures can still disrupt business processes, but IT staffs keep getting stretched thinner and thinner. Dozens of organizations have basically asked LRS to manage their print environments for them so their internal teams can focus on their core competencies. Also, some of our Managed Printing Services partners are being requested to provide these services as a part of their RFPs, and they’re turning to us for help. They would rather focus on supporting their hardware and handling consumables and other services instead of configuring and supporting our software.
MB: Why LRS?
JR: A lot of these businesses have already been using our software for years, so they know it works. No other provider has as much expertise in this enterprise output management niche. Customers know that from the way we’ve supported them over the years. But frankly, until now we didn’t have comprehensive knowledge of what applications customers were running, what devices they had in their networks, and how everything was connected. We only learned as much about the customer’s print environment as we needed in order to help them fix a problem or configure some new LRS software.
By letting our staff actually install, configure, and manage our software in the production environment, customers get the benefit of our expertise and knowledge of best practices. We also help them leverage software features they may not have known about and leverage the full capabilities of their existing print hardware.
MB: What normally triggers the demand for LRS to do services? Is it the rollout of a new application or some other big infrastructure change?
JR: Sometimes that’s the case. For example, we’ve heard of companies that are moving away from running SAP applications on-premise and going to SAP 4/HANA, where the applications are going to be hosted. Naturally they ask “if our main systems are running in the Cloud, do we really want to use our team here and a whole infrastructure in place just to manage printing? Or can I free up these resources for some other part of my business?” It probably makes more sense to have printing managed and hosted externally as well.
But again, a lot of these services inquiries are coming from our partners, where print management is part of a larger project. Modernizing or expanding a printer fleet, for example. Both the partner and the customer would rather delegate output management administration to LRS.
Here’s a reason why: in recent years, we’ve had some situations where we’ve helped customers get our software up and running in a pilot environment and then trained their teams how to expand its use throughout the organization. Six months later, they call us for more help because the people we had trained are no longer employees or moved to a different area within the company and the rollout came to a halt. So by offering Managed Services ourselves, we avoid this issue by providing continuity of resources and expertise.
It’s in everybody’s interest to see our software deployed as widely and expertly as possible so the customer realizes the benefits they expect. Not every customer keeps track of all the new features and performance enhancements we send out, for example. But the LRS services staff always know about them, so they make sure to proactively implement functions that can improve a customer’s environment.
MB: What kind of companies typically request our help with services?
JR: It really runs the gamut. Most organizations tend to be on the larger side, some even global in nature. Manufacturers, for example, as part of a shift to SAP 4/HANA or similar solutions. LRS has a lot of healthcare customers, but only a few of them have asked us to manage their print environments for some reason. But banks, technology companies, and services providers are interested. In fact, two former competitors have approached us for our LRS Managed Services. Not on behalf of their customers, but for their own internal use. Luckily, they abandoned this niche market long ago!
MB: If you could offer some advice for a company thinking about switching to a print services model, what would it be?
JR: Turning over a portion of your business function to an outside entity is something that you’ve got to think about heavily on the front end and define as well as possible, so you make sure you’ll meet your business objectives. Whatever those are. What problem are you trying to solve, what are your KPIs, and how will you measure success? We, LRS, really need to know so that we can tell you whether we can meet your expectations. Our design process attempts to define all these things up front and build in metrics, but the more the customer can tell us about their real goals, the smoother things are likely to go. It’s a relationship, like any other. Honest, constant communication is the key. I provide all the Managed Services clients my only mobile number. They know how to find me if they need to.