Managed print services are quickly becoming a primary alternative to print solutions like leasing or purchasing hardware. But, with an often-significant increase between the cost of leasing and managed print services, it’s important to know what you’re getting for your money, if it’s worth it, and if your investment will pay off.

Your business size, print volume, and current printer hardware and software will greatly impact your costs and your end results, so it’s impossible to say exactly what you will get from MPS without reviewing your current needs and costs.

No matter what your actual needs, an MPS will include the following services as part of their basic service.

Print Needs Assessment

Most managed print services vendors begin any contract with a complete print needs assessment. This means assessing print volumes across the organization, assessing hardware that is there, assessing print quality needs, and printer maintenance, support, and IT help-desk needs across the organization. If you have software solutions for access management, print-queuing, or print-archiving in place, your MPS will review these needs as well.

Your MPS will also review what’s installed versus what you actually need, allowing them to create an optimization strategy to improve printer technology across the organization. Here, a needs assessment will outline what is needed and why based on print volume, quality needs, ideal use, print use, and security. This could mean installing different printers based on specific apartment and departmental need, replacing small single-person printers with single high-volume printers, increasing the print quality of printer hardware for graphic and art departments, and decreasing print quality for finance and HR.

MPS approaches print from the idea that you can reduce overall costs by meeting individual office needs, so that you don’t pay for expensive printers where not necessary, you don’t pay run-costs for high-quality print when not-needed, and you don’t lose money through lost time and quality when print does not meet office needs.

Hardware

An MPS will provide a full printer hardware solution, including printers, scanners, and physical servers where necessary. This hardware is provided as part of total costs, which will be priced monthly based on your total hardware needs. Most importantly, hardware will be replaced and updated as office needs change, as new technology becomes cost-effective or valuable, and as old hardware becomes unstable or unreliable.

This is ideal over purchasing hardware in that you will always have hardware that meets your office needs, your hardware will be replaced as needed without adding costs for you, and you won’t spend more money on repairing old and failing equipment. Similarly, it saves you time and hassle over managing equipment condition yourself and requesting or choosing replacements when your hardware stops being reliable, like you would with a lease.

Printer Software

Printer software including print network and servers, digital and online management, security functions such user and access management, and usage management is increasingly important. Good software allows you to cut paper usage, manage users, increase security, and improve print-speed and quality. Good network management allows you to reduce load on bandwidth, improve security, and reduce instances of wasteful or redundant printing.

Your MPS vendor will assess your total needs and install printer software allowing you to manage users, manage individual printers, and collect usage data. Most will also include features such as print-archiving so users don’t have to print backup copies, print history so that usage can be managed and reviewed, and online toner/paper/supply management.

IT and Repair/Maintenance

IT calls, printer repair, and printer maintenance are extremely costly for most organizations, largely because they don’t have a team dedicated to printer calls and frankly can’t afford to. As a result, studies estimate that as much as 30% of all IT time is taken up by printer requests, when they should be handling more severe and business-relevant problems like servers, network, architecture, and so on.

An MPS steps in to offer full IT support for printers, giving users an outside line to call for maintenance, setup, repair requests, and help information. This frees up your own IT for more value-added tasks, while improving the quality of support callers receive. MPS vendors also provide their own repair, so you won’t have to source from a third-party, which will save time and money on printer repairs. In most cases, repairs are included as part of your basic contract.

Printer Supplies

Managing print supplies can be costly and time-consuming, especially when sourcing supplies from several vendors, which is often the case. Most MPS will provide printer supplies (although paper is not always included) on an automatic basis, based on use and needs estimation or actual-use as monitored through a software solution. The result is that your offices never run out of supplies, you typically save money on purchasing ink or toner separately, and greatly increase the convenience of managing printer supplies.

Ongoing Optimization and Printer Management

While an initial print assessment can help you to save money (The Washington University estimates they saved 20-25% on printer costs by switching to MPS), ongoing optimization will help you to continue to streamline and reduce costs. Here, your MPS will review ongoing usage, optimize software and hardware to meet needs, update hardware as needs change, and make changes to reduce total costs. This can include anything from education to reduce waste print to improved software or changing hardware to meet specific needs, so that you reduce total energy usage and costs.

Managed print services allow you to completely outsource every aspect of print, including hardware, software, management, and repairs or maintenance. This can help you to reduce costs in that everything is managed and meets your needs, you won’t be handling maintenance or IT requests, you won’t be replacing hardware as it is broken or outdated and won’t be spending money maintaining your server or network.

However, what you get from an MPS will heavily depend on your needs, your organization, and your existing solutions. If you’re ready to see if an MPS is right for you, the best option is to request an assessment and move forward from there.