Managed print services is one of the fastest growing industries, despite the fact that 80% of small to medium businesses have expressed strong intentions to go paperless.

Most people don’t immediately think of managed print services when they decide to go paperless, but organizations on a global scale are turning to MPS to aid digitization efforts.

MPS vendors provide scanners, document management technology, automation, and digital workflows that enable paperless processes, and often integrate directly into organizations to aid digitization efforts.

How and where do managed print service vendors fit into your organization going paperless?

Paperless isn’t Truly Paperless

No business is truly, 100% paperless. Unless every organization in your network maintains the same standards for paperless and digital work, you will have to process documents and likely send them as well. Clients still want paper receipts. Vendors and partners still send paper contracts and receipts or transaction documents. And audits and other workflows almost always require external (paper) trails.

To maintain “Paperless” organizations have to:

  • Have a digitization management workflow to scan and convert incoming documents to PDF or Word
  • Create digital document management and document signing workflows that integrate into those used by external parties
  • Organize digital files in ways that allows send to print for external stakeholders that require paper copies

If your organization can’t seamlessly work with organizations that do require or want paper, you’ll struggle to ever go paperless. That often means retaining print capacity, implementing strong digital document management, and implementing a scanner system to ensure that any paper document coming in can be converted to a digital document.

A managed print services vendor is able to step in to offer this sort of implementation, including support for software and hardware needed for long-term external collaboration.

Digital Transformations Require Technology

No organization decides to go paperless and can immediately do so. Digital transformation requires converting existing documents, records, and workflows to digital, which often means implementing a significant amount of technology.

Digitizing Files

All existing files should be digitized. This can require a considerable amount of work and will likely require a strong scanner suite and strong document management tools. Files must be scanned, stored, backed up, and labelled appropriately. In addition, you must have software in place to control user access rights while maintaining a single or global backup resource.

Replacing Print

Most people in offices use print files on a daily basis. One study by Sierra Club and Reduce.org shows that the average office employee prints 10,000 sheets of paper per year. It’s critical to introduce alternatives to print before asking employees to stop it altogether. And, while cloud document management and tablets are a good start, it’s important to have access management, central backups, and integration into existing document workflows.

Digitizing Workflows

Accounts payable, HR, customer service, operations, and marketing/sales use more print paper than any other area of an organization. In many cases, they can reduce paper usage as much as 45% simply by digitizing workflows.

Accounts payable often prints multiple copies of payroll slips, prints files throughout the payrolling process, and prints files to be signed and scanned to a computer, and then printed on location to be sent via post. Implementing digital document management linked to scanners and linked to digital signatures and digital approval processes means that paper-heavy workflows can be processed digitally.

However, MPS can add extra value here in the form of automation. Automated workflows speed up processes because everything is handled automatically as the previous item is completed.

For example, a payroll document could be created and automatically populated with personal data from a file, payroll calculated based on hours and taxes, and then automatically sent to all approving parties. Once checked, the file is automatically sent for a digital signature, a request for payment is forwarded to the appropriate party, and copies of the file are stored and sent to the employee.

Security

Paperless offices have increased security needs, often because files are easier to steal, are more accessible, and are more vulnerable to theft from external parties.

Managed print services include security, integrating firewalls, secure network management, automated alerts, automatic firmware and software updates, and user access management. Plus, most MPS vendors offer central management through a dashboard, making it easier to update access rights, remove people, and push updates in a timely fashion.

Ongoing Optimization

Most people think of digitization as a single step. You implement software solutions and reduce paper across the office. But things are rarely that simple. Rather, most offices slowly phase out printers, invest in long-term digitization and scanning projects, and slowly implement digitization standards for partners, third parties, and clients.

This takes time and, chances are, needs will change throughout the process. An MPS vendor is able to update technology and software solutions to meet those changing needs.

For example, you might have an 18-month plan to digitize all existing records. For that period, you need a large scanner fleet capable of processing thousands of scans each day. Afterwards, those needs might drop to a tenth of that.

Working with an MPS vendor allows you to update technology needs as you move into different phases of the project, switching from focus on digitizing to improving workflows, offering more digital tools, and optimizing what you do have.

While MPS started out as a print supply industry, vendors often focus on delivering software, ongoing optimization, and cost-reduction rather than just print hardware. As a result, even big names like Xerox are the go-to for brands that want to digitize, providing scanners, software, and document storage solutions, with the intent of improving online document management, reducing costs, and improving content access.

In one example, Xerox delivered a “paperless” solution to an anonymous audit firm, complete with scanners, printers for external print needs, and digital document management. The firm eventually saved 5% on print room and 25% on marketing print costs.

Going paperless is a long process that requires a print needs assessment and analysis to determine where your organization is at and where you want to be. Setting goals allows you to determine what technology you need, what’s feasible, what isn’t, and what new measures you need to actually digitize. Managed print services provide this, as well as the hardware and software you need at each stage, ongoing maintenance, and ongoing optimization for digital workflows and document management.