In encounters with MCP Business Solutions, "Let's work together" and "How can we help you succeed?" are not the standard questions meant just to open doors to potential outsourcing opportunities and then soon to be forgotten. They reflect the pervasive mind-set and every-day approach of this service provider's relationships with its clients.
Atlanta, Georgia-headquartered MCP's clients--such as The Coca-Cola Company, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and the Gwinnett County, Georgia Public Schools--depend on MCP for document management services that are highly critical to their businesses. But they also depend on MCP for optimizing their document life cycle environments so the rest of their enterprises can be much more productive. "That's where we truly add value," states Karl Humphrey, President, MCP Business Solutions.
"Before we do anything else," says Humphrey, "we look to understand our client and its environment. We look at what they're trying to achieve, and not just immediately in terms of the obvious like cost savings, cost management, and quality. We try to understand the client's culture, its history, its goals, and its long-term future path. We work hard up front to understand our clients because it helps us craft the right type of solution for them. We truly approach a relationship as a partnership."
From Mail and Documents to Events Support
Partnering and crafting a solution based on up-front knowledge of the client's business was MCP Business Solutions' approach with The Coca-Cola Company in 2000. But Humphrey says the knowledge-gathering continues throughout the relationship and drives continual solution value.
MCP, formerly known as Mail Centers Plus, had a small outsourcing contract in 2000 to manage the mail and shipping/receiving process at Coca-Cola Fountain, a satellite facility handling fountain drink products. The Coca-Cola Company's chairman announced a supplier diversity initiative, and the company carved the niche support area for the MCP contract out of a larger services contract with a major provider for Coca-Cola's headquarters and its Houston facilities.
"We were very pleased with them, to the point that we selected them as one of the first companies to participate in our mentoring program," recalls Johnnie Booker, Global Director, Supplier Diversity. "MCP was a well-managed organization. They saved us money, but they built a relationship first."
Booker says the mentoring program, a collaborative initiative between the Coca-Cola Company and the Clark Atlanta School of Business in 2001, was designed to increase the capability and capacity of minority- and women-owned businesses to the point where they are more competitive in the marketplace nationwide.
"We mentored them and they were doing good work; so we then encouraged them to bid for the big contract to support our headquarters office," says Booker. Among seven bidders, she says MCP "beat out a major corporation" for the headquarters contract. Then came the Houston facility.
MCP's footprint in The Coca-Cola Company went from providing mail distribution and document management to records management and office supplies management, then to maintenance and management of the large fleet of copiers and multi-functional devices. "The contract expanded tremendously because they are an exceptional supplier," says Booker.
MCP's knowledge of The Coca-Cola Company's business was the on-ramp for creating a value-add solution when the company wanted to reduce its costs in events planning and technical support. Whether the event is hosting associates internally for training, promoting a new product externally, or advertising at sporting events, the beverage company needs virtual offices for weeks at a time with everything that would be available in the usual offices.
When MCP sets up the virtual facilities, it procures the necessary equipment and supplies and gets computers, copiers, etc. up and running and connected to the network at The Coca-Cola Company headquarters. It trains individuals on using the equipment. It also provides copying, mail, document output, and print support services. Later, it breaks down the equipment, takes it offsite, and makes sure everything and everyone at the event venue and at Coca-Cola is squared away. MCP then reports on the budget and lessons learned from the process.
The cost proposition of the service is compelling. Prior to this service from MCP, The Coca-Cola Company had to pull resources from its locations at or near the event, or it had to depend on the event venue's resources--at a premium cost. And the event owner within Coca-Cola also had to continually train people on how The Coca-Cola Company works, which drained a lot of time and energy away from the event owner's core business.
No Canned Solutions
The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has also benefited from its relationship with MCP. In 1999, the airport increased staffing so it could execute its 10-year, $5 billion capital improvement plan. David Pino, Director of Project Management, explains the program management company subcontracts the work to MCP; it handles services at the capital improvements document control section and has provided staff on a continuous basis for the past seven years.
"They are results oriented, and I couldn't ask for any more in the way they execute the services," says Pino. MCP manages all the associated mail and other paperwork involved with the airport's $400-500 million of capital improvement construction projects annually.
"We've not had a problem with things getting to the places they need to be and getting there on time," states Pino. "I never have an issue with them. And when you manage as many projects as we do and have as many other things going on as we have, the fewer issues you have, the better off you are."
"Despite what you see in the marketplace, canned solutions are not the way to go in our business," MCP's President says. "There are a lot of hidden resources and spend in document management areas. We don't go in and say, 'Here's what you need to have.'"
He points out that MCP just managing costs does not result in true value to a client. As an example, MCP might negotiate with a third-party vendor to reduce a package shipping cost by 25-30 percent. But if the package does not arrive on time, MCP's client may lose a customer. The 25 percent savings will not begin to compare to the business the client will lose from not getting a product to the customer on time.
The life cycle of a document can be complex and costly. Just think of the different directions it could go and the amount of times people could touch it in an enterprise with 1,000 employees, plus any number of intermediaries also handling the document.
Humphrey says many service providers with document management solutions focus their offering around proprietary equipment and processes. In contrast, MCP focuses heavily on knowledge of its customers. "We focus on understanding the whole continuum of a document, how it will move, and all the different variations that can happen with it," he says.
MCP builds on that knowledge to provide an integrated solution, cross-utilizing resources across processes, cross-utilizing vendors, and "always looking to optimize the solution across the enterprise." This approach improves the quality of the work while it reduces cost.
Optimization is certainly the key word describing MCP's services for the Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia. With more than 100 schools--and the associated number of geographically dispersed equipment locations and decision makers on spend--Humphrey compares the size of the public-sector client to a mid-size private corporation.
MCP is helping the schools consolidate and automate their decentralized document distribution process. The provider implemented a document scanning solution and instituted processes whereby the entire school system can draw on a centralized business process (bulk mailing for example). MCP is also assisting the schools consolidate and leverage their spend to obtain a better price and higher level of quality and support from third-party vendors.
When we established MCP, we were hard-set on being objective and vendor independent as far as equipment," states Humphrey. "That enables us to be close to making the same kinds of decisions as our clients would make for themselves." It's another important differentiator of the value the provider brings to its clients.
"A lot of variables go into providing document management services," MCP's President explains. "It's not just moving the mail or making and distributing copies of documents. The value that we drive toward is not just managing our clients' expenses in a smart and optimal way but also looking further to see how we can optimize their document environment."
That environment then dominoes, enabling the client to be more productive and efficient in its core business throughout the entire organization. And that's a greater return on investment in outsourcing.
Lessons from Outsourcing Journal:
- Canned, one-size-fits all solutions are not the best value for document management services. The provider needs to understand hidden spend in this area and craft a solution that best fits the client's situation.
- To ensure best-of-breed solutions in document management and mail services, choose a service provider whose solution is objective and equipment vendor independent.
- Events planning and technical support services are an ideal value-add service to a document management solution. This service can eliminate the high costs associated with having to use premium resources at the event location and continually training people on the client's business. It also allows the event manager to focus on the core business.