Managed print services are quickly becoming the fastest print solution for businesses of all sizes. While adoption reasons range from convenience to improved tooling to actual cost reduction, managed print services are the fastest growing aspect of the print industry, to the point where even major print companies like Xerox, HP, Canon, and Brother now offer managed print services.

If you’ve yet to make the switch, you’re likely wondering what’s included, and if switching to what is essentially outsourcing printers and print services is beneficial for your organization. Managed print services can be as varied as their price tags, but almost always include much more than just leasing printers.

For many modern MPS vendors, easing printers is sometimes secondary to the primary function of reducing total cost of print.

Components of a complete managed print services package

Print Assessment and Review

A Managed Print Services contract starts out with a print needs assessment, which typically includes a total assessment of print across the organization.

Hardware – What’s installed? Is it efficient and cost effective? How old is it? Does it meet or exceed the needs of teams using it? Are there bottlenecks? Where? What could be more effective here?

Print Demand – How much is printed? What volume of pages are you printing per month in black and white and in color? When? Why? Where? Which teams print the most? Do any teams have special print needs? Are those being met?

Print Waste – How much of what is printed is waste? How much of what is printed could be saved through digitization and automation? Are there other inefficiencies in the print process that could reduce costs?

Security – Is your print network secure? What measures are in place to protect data? Where are the risks? What measures could be put in place to mitigate those risks? Do you have access management in place? Should you?

Print Costs – What are you paying for print? Where are those costs coming from? Could you be paying less with different hardware? A single consolidated print contract? Replacing your existing print fleet? Keeping it? Digitizing?

Your managed print services vendor should spend at least several weeks assessing needs and usage. In most cases, this will include an upfront software assessment, where print usage is monitored via a software installation to offer an initial quote and recommendations. From there, your MPS vendor should offer ongoing assessments to better optimize, improve, and validate those decisions.

Print Hardware

Print hardware is a primary part of MPS. However, your vendor might not replace all or even most of your hardware. The initial print assessment will determine what you need and where, which may involve leaving everything where it’s at (This is unlikely), replacing some hardware, or replacing the entire fleet.

In most cases, print hardware optimization means fitting printers to the needs of the office, establishing them in central locations for that team to minimize the number of printers needed and to reduce wait-times and walking time to the printer, and to reduce the cost of print and maintenance. Some standard measures here include:

  • Implementing the same printer model wherever possible across the office to reduce maintenance costs and times, as well as to improve usability (printers are the same everywhere, so anyone can use them)
  • Setting up multi-function printers in convenient office locations to reduce the number of devices in an office, while managing bottlenecks.
  • Establishing personal printers for high-security persons
  • Establishing printers for ease of access to reduce walk and waste time
  • Installing high-quality printers in specific teams that need them, while offering basic solutions for teams that don’t.
  • Remapping printer networks and servers to prevent bottlenecks and quality loss
  • Replacing printers that are increasing costs, either by repair and maintenance, lease, or supplies

The idea of optimizing print hardware is that every mode is optimal for its usage, with enough capability to meet peak demand, without “over supplying”. This keeps costs as low as possible, while ensuring you can meet needs.

Software and Cloud Tools

Most managed print solutions include software and tooling, including cloud or hybrid solutions for remote printer management, remote network management, and remote updates. These solutions can be incredibly diverse, but should offer value in reducing maintenance time, improving security, offering use access management, and offer central management for print supplies and print usage.

  • Print management software – tracks all printers on the network, including usage, printer status, supply status, maintenance status, etc. 
  • Security – Typically includes firewalls, antivirus, antimalware, and, automation tools to flag suspicious activity or behavior and auto-restart printers or remove them from the network in case suspicious activity is detected 
  • User Access Management – User accounts, user management and access levels, pull printing, tracking where and what each individual is printing, print archives 
  • Digitization Tools – Print automation, process automation, workflow automation. Tools can automatically create and file backups, can automatically digitize print files, can auto create receipts and send them to respective parties, can automate most of the printed elements of payrolling, and can automate contracts to reduce the total number of documents printed during processing.  
  • Network Management – Network management tools include monitoring, management, and automatically redirecting requests to reduce load on networks to avoid bottlenecks and data loss.

While most MPS vendors will offer cloud and hybrid tools, almost all will offer on-site solutions as well for organizations in need of stronger security.

Repair, Maintenance, and Support

MPS provides considerable value in that it typically completely removes the burden of print from local IT, shifting a time-consuming process (Print takes up an average of 19% of IT resources, and as much as 1/4th of help desk calls) to an external organization.

Where IT will always have to focus on print as a secondary objective (unless your organization is large enough to have a dedicated print team), an MPS specializes in print and can provide better and faster fixes, solutions, and support.

This reduces total time and cost, because you’re reducing time spent to repair, switching from paying IT to paying dedicated print support, and reducing waste time that impacts other projects.

MPS typically includes:

  • All repairs and maintenance, typically with service level agreements to indicate maximum time before repair or replacement
  • Help desk support including calling and chat
  • Regular machine maintenance including automatic updates, manual updates, and parts maintenance

Each of these works to reduce costs while keeping printers in running condition, so they never become a liability.

Print Supplies

MPS vendors use several tactics to reduce the total cost of print supplies. In most cases, your contract will include the cost of supplies rolled into the contract, typically as the contract.

For example, many vendors charge a flat rate to print color and black and white pages, with a minimum number of prints per month, and no additional costs. This means you get a standard, flat-rate price every month, which makes costs more predictable and more manageable long-term.

While managed print services offer advantages to organizations of all sizes, it’s always important to review your options, perform a cost analysis, and determine if moving to MPS is the right choice for your organization.

When you do so, look at ongoing costs, ongoing services like optimization, any hidden costs, and where you might save money (such as reducing waste print, reducing security risks, or cutting contract costs).

MPS can also add value in terms of reduced energy usage and reduced carbon footprints, which may align with business goals and government requirements. At the same time, there are many MPS providers, many of them offer specialty services and have their own rates.

It’s crucial to compare options and choose a provider that offers the right services at a cost that meets your budget.