Tailor-Made Print Solutions: Why do they matter?
For years now, contracts between a Managed Print Service (MPS) provider and the customer have been generic, pre-defined and inflexible. There is no room for change, movement or additions. Most providers have a pre-designed contract that will cover them for potential loss of income if their contract is broken by the customer. These generic contracts seem to ‘fit the requirement’ for what is seen as a “commodity product” with low value and low risk.
It’s common in commercial contracts to include a provision that any changes made to a contract are ineffective unless made in writing and signed by or on behalf of both parties, but actually achieving a variation clause can be a lengthy and time-consuming process frequently ending with no real solution or not really achieving what is needed. For any variation to be effective there has to be:
- A valid agreement between the parties - mere notification by one party to the other is not effective.
- Some form of consideration supporting the agreement.
This consideration could take many forms, for example:
- Mutual abondonment of existing rights
- New benefits being granted by each party to the other party
- The parties assuming additional obligations if the contract is breached
A concession granted by one party to the other for that party's convenience, and at its request, will not therefore constitute a variation, it can require a contract change in entirety, costly on both sides in monitory value and hours.
Therefore, has the day of a generic contact lasting a number of years become a preventative to good business policy? Should we not be in a position where contracts reflect business needs in a fast-moving technology changing world? As suppliers we need to review how we can provide tailored contracts for our many tailored solutions.
If you find yourself 2 years into a 5-year contract for office technology and your organisational requirements have changed, it can be a difficult and again a procrastinated expensive process to break the contract and then sign yet another generic contract to update your office technologies. If we need to keep pace with changing technologies then surely we should have a specific tailor-made contract that works simply for both parties showing the supplier is interested in and understands your true business requirements.
All organisations, either well established or start ups, will have a business plan for growth, change and profitability. This business strategy plan will have built in elements for the changes these plans will bring - you may grow faster than planned, you may be less profitable than expected or you may even make a significant change to how or who you thought your business would be. If all of this information is to hand, is known and is fundamental to your organisation, then surely the contracts you sign along the way should reflect the original business plans?
Next time you find yourself reading the terms and conditions of a generic contract, ask yourself ‘what have I got too lose’ by requesting a tailor-made contract that benefits both parties, but more importantly, gives my organisation the understanding and flexibility I need to achieve my company’s strategies for development and growth.