Maximizing Efficiency and Security: The Key to Public Sector Market Success for Resellers

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Going public

The public sector is a vast market in the UK, with organisations having huge budgets to spend and a constant need for printers, scanners and allied products and services. This means it can be a profitable sector for resellers if they can get into the market and make the right connections.

The public sector is a market worth tens of billions in the UK, covering everything from local authorities to education to health. While all of these require print services, they also increasingly need allied products and services to ensure they move with the times, which provides resellers with opportunities.

“Accelerated by the pandemic, digital transformation and unlocking barriers to agile working will continue to be key considerations across the public sector,” says Stuart Miller, partner channel director, Canon UK & Ireland. “From greater efficiency and security, to meeting cost reduction goals – supporting broader digital transformation journeys will enable print resellers to better meet the needs of public sector employees, as well as the wider community.”

Stuart Miller adds that when working with organisations in the public sector, resellers must take into consideration a range of requirements and demands. “For example, they face intense pressure to deliver to tight budgets while meeting the expectations of the public, meaning cost efficiency is a high priority,” he says. “Additionally, relevant framework agreements need to be established and security continues to be a major concern, as cyberattacks are particularly destructive because of the number of lives they impact. 

“Therefore, to thrive within the public sector market, resellers must provide managed print services to deliver a printing ecosystem that is simple and effective for IT teams to manage from remote locations, while maximising efficiency and security. 

“Additionally, the opportunities are vast for the print reseller once they secure a place on the Public Sector Frameworks. A successful plan needs to include how they will bid, deploy and add value to each opportunity or framework. This includes a comprehensive understanding of the commercial commitments the print resellers are obligated to under the framework agreements.

“As part of this, resellers should look to provide public sector organisations with specialist support. For example, many manufacturers offer special public sector pricing, but often resellers aren’t aware of these deals. By establishing a partnership rather than a mere transactional relationship with manufacturers, resellers can stay up to date with these special offers and develop valuable framework plans and relationships with their customers in the public sector.”  

Stuart Miller notes that Canon has worked with a variety of public sector organisations, including Norfolk County Council (NCC). “During the pandemic, action had to be taken immediately at NCC to create new ways of working with the development of remote working. This included the installation of new Canon devices and cloud solutions, plus a new digital transformation services facility in Scottow,” he says. “Powered by an array of Canon hardware and software solutions, the facility allows the Council to provide a scalable physical and digital presence to help them and their partners access a wide range of digital services.”

Accessing frameworks

This is an example of what councils can need. But gaining access to the public sector market can be challenging, although rewarding. “The public sector market is predominantly controlled by a series of Public Sector Buying Frameworks, where a body will negotiate a lot of the contract in advance to make the purchasing process easier,” explains Stuart Brookes, head of Channel & Alliances – EMEA at PaperCut Software. “Some examples include the CCS (Crown Commercial Services), Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation, YPO (Yorkshire), and the National Education Printer Agreement, to name but a few.

“Frameworks typically go to market every three to five years with a big tender of their own that has a lot of prerequisites. The job of the OEM and the reseller is to respond to that tender to get a place on it. People using that framework can only buy from the approved resellers on that framework.  

“Typically, central government, local government and the larger NHS/education sector use the frameworks. Some smaller schools with more autonomy may go ‘off framework’ because they prefer to use a local service provider. Rewards can be there if a framework vendor can deliver a range of services. There are typically multiple lots within multiple frameworks that relate to our industry. For example, on an office print solutions framework there may be lots for transactional hardware, managed print services, managed content services, software-only lots, etc. To go beyond that, there may then be frameworks and/or lots relating to reprographics and high-volume print, offsite print/scan, document storage, document management, marketing services etc.

“Historically, the frameworks are generally – albeit not exclusively – dominated by the OEMs. Arguably, they have the resources to deliver a wider range of services, especially if a framework has multiple lots or end users want multiple lots of a framework (e.g. ability to provide office MPS, reprographics and high volume, offsite, bulk scanning, etc.). There have been and are instances where an OEM may work with or alongside resellers to help with local fulfilment in instances or to sub-contract/outsource work at times, although we would still suggest it appears to primarily be an OEM direct market.”

Cost and regulation

Stuart Bookes adds that while there are trends in the sector, it is a fundamental that should always be in mind. “Whatever the trends may be, a constant with the public sector is that cost is important and always a driver,” he says. “More so in times of economic challenges. The cost per page has come down significantly over the years as frameworks attempt to negotiate strong prices. Sustainability and productivity are clearly of interest, but they drive the price down so ridiculously hard to the extent that, in some instances, it isn’t an overly profitable business.”

While resellers need to be alert to this – and diversify the range of products they offer, if possible – they also must keep abreast of changing regulations to ensure that customers are still receiving a service that best meets their needs.

Achieve this, and there are opportunities available for resellers if they are prepared to put the work into getting onto the frameworks.