Managed print services are quickly becoming a dominant force in the print industry, with some estimates suggesting 45% of printers shipped will be under an MPS contract by 2021.
For businesses who haven’t yet made the switch, the thought of moving from printer ownership or lease to a full-managed contract can be daunting. Upfront costs are often higher, MPS gives a third-party company more control of your print, and MPS is a partnership rather than a simple contract.
If you’re considering making the switch, you likely want to know if MPS provides value or advantage for businesses who do so. While the short answer is “yes,” the longer answer involves your existing IT team and setup, existing software, and current state of printer management.
You should consider all of these when making the choice, and likely consult with MPS providers in your area to determine exactly what they can do for you.
Providing print management data and optimization
Most MPS providers function to optimize print services across an organization. This means that their goal from day one isn’t to provide your organization with printer hardware, it’s to understand how, why, and where you use print and how that could be optimized.
This means most MPS providers will step into your organization and begin collecting data. This may range from simply requesting data you have to a months-long analysis of device utilization, technical issues, supply usage, waste, and so on.
Most will step in and make an immediate analysis of print devices on your network as well as their age, print volume, status, page volume, and so on. They’ll also look at how documents are printed and whether or not they need to be, and then make a recommendation to your organization for optimization.
This will likely include:
- New print hardware
- Print software
- Print servers and networking
- Print policies and processes to optimize usage
Most importantly, this analysis and data collection is ongoing. Your MPS provider will continue to collect data, make adjustments and changes as your organization grows and adapts, and introduce new policies and software to meet changing organizational goals and needs.
For example, if your organization moves to digitization, the provider could adapt available print devices to meet those needs, focus on offering digital file storage, and reduce the number of available printers. If your organization switches to providing graphic design with in-house print, the MPS could supply those printers as part of the existing contract and create specialty accounts with higher access for the team.
Reducing load on IT and support
Most organizations don’t have the resources to create specialty teams dedicated to printers, which means those services fall on IT and help desk. If you do have those resources and do have a print team set up, you can skip this advantage. This means IT are responsible for installing printers, printer updates, printer network maintenance, and either repairing or calling someone to repair printers when something goes wrong.
Your general support or help line will handle calls about printers, which make up 30-70% of all support requests depending on the organization and its devices. This can be time-consuming and costly, especially as your IT network is not likely specialized.
Your MPS will offer a dedicated printer team through IT as well as a dedicated help-desk or support line. This team will be specialized in printers and will work solely on printers, so they have the tools and resources to develop a high level of expertise in models, to offer very specific and quality advice when called, and to respond quickly. This not only reduces the load on IT and support but also greatly improves the quality of IT and support services rendered. IT teams are then freed up to focus on value-added tasks within your organization, because print IT is outsourced.
Boosting printer security and privacy
Managed print services function to optimize your network which typically includes improving security to meet data-security policies, meet regulations, and protect users and customers from losing data. While you may have a printer security policy in place (most organizations don’t), chances are, there are still risks, especially if your IT team doesn’t have the resources to manually update printers across the network.
A managed print services provider will set up secure networks, encrypt user access, set up secure data storage, manage print processes, train employees, and optimize devices for security. This could ensure problems are patched and fixed before they become risks, even when you aren’t aware those things are risks.
Cutting print costs and cost-of-supplies
Managed print services work to reduce print costs in several ways.
A managed print service provider is purchasing printer supplies in bulk and at wholesale cost, meaning they pay significantly less than you would if purchasing yourself. Most will pass these savings on to you because print supplies are not where they make money. This also includes faster provisioning and re-provisioning, which could save money over waiting and expending employee time re-ordering supplies.
MPS includes software to optimize printer usage, track individual usage, and force fleet-wide standards such as duplex and black-and-white printing as a standard. Other measures, like printer queues and secure printing also work to reduce waste printing, with some estimates showing as much as a 10-30% reduction in total printed files.
Most MPS providers will offer employee training or print policies designed to reduce waste printing, especially in organizations with a great deal of print waste. With data showing some organizations throw away up to 70% of all printed files without utilizing them, this could result in a considerable reduction in print.
If you already have strong print-waste reduction strategies in place, this may not save you anything. However, data shows that more than 90% of organizations don’t actually track print usage, so chances are, you don’t.
Managed print services are quickly moving from a luxury service to the standard in print services, simply because they add value to most organizations. If you don’t have the resources to dedicate IT to print, don’t currently know what you’re spending on print, and struggle with print costs or optimization, an MPS provider will definitely offer value. However, different providers offer different types and levels of service. It’s important to look for a solution that meets your needs. At the end of the day, you don’t know exactly what your MPS will do for you until they offer a proposal based on a company analysis.