A Managed Print Services provider can offer your organization a great deal in terms of cost-savings, potential. However, it’s important that you first choose an MPS provider who can meet your organization’s needs, offer quality services, and meet their organizational promises. Managed print service solutions exist at every size and level, so chances are, you will have plenty to choose from. Choosing the right provider often means understanding your own needs first and working from there to pick a solution that best meets your needs.
While your specific needs will vary depending on your organization, business size, and existing hardware, the following tips will help you choose the right managed print services provider.
Your MPS vendor should be able to step into your organization, review your needs, and help you find printer hardware and software that best meets your needs, across your organization. Your provider should have strong assessment capabilities as well as a proven way to validate assessments.
- How is your provider assessing needs? (Interviews? Reviewing existing usage? Other methods?)
- How does your provider validate assessments? (comparing against standards in similar organizations, creating ongoing assessment after setup, etc.)
Needs assessment is one of the most crucial elements of implementing an MPS vendor, because it’s the stage where you fit your printer hardware and software to your needs which will reduce costs, improve productivity, and improve the quality of your print service.
Your managed print services provider should be able to meet your needs, especially as you scale. This often means that it’s best to match the size of your organization to that of the MPS provider. If you are too big a small provider might not be able to meet your hardware and software needs. They might under-deliver, simply because they don’t have the network, funds, or reach to implement what you need. On the other hand, a vendor that is too large for your organization won’t prioritize you as a customer, because they work with very large contracts, which account for most of their income.
A small-to-medium business can benefit from partnering with a similarly sized managed print service provider because that provider will be more likely to work with you, to provide stellar customer service, and to adapt to your needs rather than expecting the other way around.
You should also pay attention to the actual equipment the team is offering, to their ability to be a partner to you (do they work with you and find solutions for you, or do they simply offer what they have), and their ability to support you across your entire geographical range. This includes offering equipment, server support, and customer service/ staffing at every office location you have.
Customer service is a huge element of MPS, because a large portion of what you are paying for is service. You need a provider that is prompt, efficient, and professional. Why? If your printers go down, no longer meet your needs, or require maintenance, you want to be able to trust that your provider will handle it as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Not every MPS organization will have a multi-year history of delivering quality print services, but you should look for a provider that has established itself and has some track record of success. If they don’t, you want to know how they validate workflow optimization, printer selection, and services.
- How old is the organization?
- What companies have they worked with?
- Do they have any references or case studies?
- Are they well known, or do they have a public and positive internet presence?
Scalability and Flexibility
Scalability is important because it means that your MPS provider can grow with you, meeting your needs as your print requirements change and grow. This is important because your organization will change. If you want an MPS partner rather than a quick contract, you need to know that your provider will be able to scale your print solutions as you move to digitization, as you add more security, or as you double or triple your staff.
Security and IT Architecture
Increased print security is one of the many reasons organizations choose to work with MPS providers, so it is important that you review if your provider can offer it. Here, you should review if they can offer user access management or an access management matrix, what their software tracks, how they secure printers (for example are they using LAN or VLAN), architecture security protocols, hardware security, and so on.
Business Processes Optimization
Most MPS providers offer services including process automation for improving productivity, reducing carbon footprint, and reducing waste. These can be very important factors and your organization may highly value them. You should review:
- What is the MPS doing to improve processes? (reviewing print data, tracking waste, tracking total usage)
- How are data and suggestions shared? (Monthly meetings?)
- How is optimization implemented? (Introducing business processes? New hardware? New software? Training for employees?)
It’s important to ask questions about how promises of business process optimization are actualized, so that you have a better understanding of what your MPS provider will do, how, and whether it’s a good fit for your organization.
What About End-of-Contract?
While you aren’t likely choosing an MPS provider with end-of-contract terms in mind, you should. Chances are that your contract will end after a set period, during which time you need to know that you have access to print hardware and software until you either choose a new provider or create a new contract. You also want to be able to break your contract should your MPS provider not live up to their promises, which means that you need in-contract clauses to that effect.
Choosing an MPS provider should mean reviewing your options, selecting a provider that meets your individual business needs, and then choosing a solution with a good reputation, hardware that meets your needs, and some proof-of-concept such as quality processes, validation, and so on. There is no one-size-fits-all MPS, because a best-solution is the one that best-fits your organization for size, scalability, security, services, and support.