Image by: maxsattana, ©2016 Getty Images

Managed print services (MPS) have seen steady growth, becoming a standard best practice among information technology (IT) decision makers to support their print fleets, but a recent study reveals rising customer dissatisfaction. Photizo Group’s 2015 "Decision Maker Tracking Study" found approximately one out of three MPS users indicate intentions to switch providers or exit managed print services altogether. Widespread service termination raises questions, among decision makers, about the impact of MPS engagements and the risk posed on IT strategy success.

Following the decision makers of more than 3,000 MPS customer programs, the "Decision Maker Tracking Study" analyzes behaviors and attitudes as it relates to their current MPS program contract, service and provider. Analysis of customer satisfaction ratings shows a startlingly high rate of negative end user experience, depicting growing discontent within the North American market.

End users were recently asked to identify their plans in regard to their MPS service strategy. While a majority (66%) indicated satisfaction with their strategy, 13% indicated intentions to switch partners and 21% plan to leave their MPS service provider completely, culminating to 34% total dissatisfaction.

It is important to identify the driving factors behind service dissatisfaction to better understand the root problems arising in the market in order to avoid increasing negative service outcomes moving forward.

Thirteen percent, looking to switch providers, indicated their vendor didn’t meet pre-contract expectations, managing the process was too difficult or internal customers weren’t satisfied with the results yielded from their engagement. Similarly, 21%, evaluating quitting MPS engagements altogether, indicated overall dissatisfaction with their results, expressing that their organization could do a better job internally.

Initial indications suggest that a gap in perception, between sales-driven delivery expectations and tactical execution, serves as the leading cause of dissatisfaction among users.

With further analysis, 79% of MPS customers interested in leaving their services were engaged in all-inclusive (per seat or per page) contracts. As the engagement becomes more comprehensive, decision maker expectations increase. However, indications point toward a lag between the rise in customer expectation and delivery execution from vendors—ultimately, leading to greater dissonance as vendors fail to deliver on promised outcomes in the sales cycle.

So, should IT decision makers avoid all-inclusive MPS engagements altogether, focusing on simpler, less risky engagements?

All-inclusive contracts are attractive to both vendors and end users. These high-end engagements allow vendors to secure increased profitability and deliver opportunity for internal service expansion—delivering increased opportunity for growth. Likewise, they present an ideal solution for decision makers, delivering a single source of robust document management services, providing easier program management and a reduction in required resources, thus, allowing allocation to more business-critical tasks. However, as the market shifts, creating increased vendor focus on all-inclusive contracts, delivery capability often lags behind the curve. Sales promises seldom come to fruition, and the IT decision maker is left responsible for underwhelming business impact.

All-inclusive contracts remain the sweet spot in the market for the end user. When properly executed, they deliver significant cost reduction and workflow optimization, positively impacting the bottom line and operational ability. The key remains in selecting a partner who is the best fit for your organization, with a strong track record of delivery excellence.

Due diligence is critical to ensuring successful program implementation. As the MPS contract becomes more involved, an increasingly deep understanding of the market, including vendor performance and reputation, and industry best practices is required to mitigate the higher risk involved in a large-scale engagement.

Rather than turning away from high-end MPS contracts, decision makers are encouraged to leverage a stronger awareness of the complexities of successful implementation and move forward with increased confidence. In selecting the best partner for your engagement, with verified, consistent delivery success, you can ensure that your organization will enjoy the benefits of high-value outsourced print management solutions.

We invite you to learn more about managed print outsourcing and the MPS market here.

Mario Díaz is the vice president of consulting at Photizo Group, a global consulting and market intelligence firm, and has more than 25 years of strategic marketing and business development experience, including executive management positions at Apple, Avnet, Toshiba, IO Data Centers and QMS.