Managed print services are quickly becoming one of the most popular print solutions. Part of this rise in popularity is the fact that MPS providers offer ongoing print assessment and optimization as part of their contracts, rather than simply providing hardware and software solutions.

A print assessment or print needs assessment is one of these services, and it will typically be provided free of charge at the start of a contract and then periodically throughout the contract. Print assessments typically involve a combination of hardware review, needs assessment, and use assessment. This means a software auditor installed on print servers, manual review, and 30-90 days of data collection before you receive a report.

Print assessments help to determine how your organization uses printers, how it prints, and what it prints. This information can then be used to save your organization time and money.

1) Understanding Costs

Business printing costs a lot. With estimates ranging anywhere from a minimum of 20 cents per page to an average of 1-3% of total revenue, it’s difficult to understand how much printing actually costs you. Chances are, it’s more than you think. A print assessment will help you understand where you are spending money and why.

  • How inefficient business processes affect print
  • Total print hardware costs and consolidation options
  • Cost of supplies
  • Cost of repair and management
  • Printers not on print network

For example, many organizations continue to maintain individual and desktop printers which aren’t on the print network. These devices allow users to securely print files without waiting for a queue, but can be extremely costly. Print costs, individual supply costs, and costs of maintenance all add up significantly.

A print assessment will identify exactly what you are spending on print and why, allowing you to make decisions to cut those costs.

2) Reviewing Waste and Print Usage

Most organizations never use most of what they print. Most can also reduce total print outs (and supply spend) depending on the office, employees, and access to printers.

A print assessment can review where and how print is being used across your organization to:

  • Identify top print users. You can see who is printing, what they are printing, and why
  • Identify cost saving measures, such as enforcing duplex printing, forcing black and white printing, or standardizing font and margins
  • Implementing pull printing to reduce duplicate printing and lost files
  • Review business processes to reduce print needs

This allows you to reduce costs by looking at where you are spending money. If a print needs assessment were to note that a specific user is printing more than anyone else, you could look at why. For example, if Accounts Payable is printing 15-20x the volume of the next highest usage, you might implement tools to automate invoice and payroll entry, so that these files don’t have to be printed, and significantly decrease total print volume. Similarly, you could implement rules-based printing to improve print habits with popups to ask if users need single-sided printing or color, and hard-rules to enforce margins and so on.

3) Understanding Your Print Environment

A print assessment will help you understand your print environment as a whole. This includes:

  • Total devices on network
  • Print output devices
  • Servers and cloud servers
  • IT input and costs
  • Maintenance
  • Service calls and time expenditure

Creating a complete picture of your print environment gives you the tools to understand if it meets needs, where complexities occur, and what you can improve.

4) Understanding Printer Contracts

Most organizations source printers and multi-function printers from a range of suppliers. You might find that you have contracts with several renters, additional contracts with suppliers, and potentially even more contracts for maintenance and repair. Managing print lease relationships can be difficult, especially when you have shorter-term contracts, or auto-renewing contracts. A print analysis can help you determine where you’re spending money on print lease.

This can help you decide if you are benefiting from existing contracts or if you might benefit from a single, consolidated contract from a managed print services provider.

5) Optimizing Print Per Office or Location

Most organizations and offices have their own specific needs and requirements. Most also have their own printers. Offices quite often make their own printer decisions, have their own models and technologies installed, and may not even know how to use printers elsewhere in the building.

A print needs analysis will give you a good idea of what printers are in each location, how individuals are using them, and what they need. This allows you to implement universal print standards across the organization, while still meeting the needs of individual offices and locations. For example, you can typically assume HR and payrolling will have higher print needs than an office like IT. But, a print assessment can tell you how each department is using print in each office, which you can align with structure to exactly meet local needs.

6) Consolidating Printers

Most offices have more printers than they actually need, with some doing the bulk of the local work. A print assessment will highlight where printers are being used, so you can consolidate printers into a smaller number of multi-function printers.

Consolidating smaller and even personal printers into larger multi-function printers allows you to reduce total lease and service costs, reduce maintenance time and costs, and reduce the total cost of servicing. Plus, with fewer devices, you can simplify print network architecture, simplify antivirus and anti-malware, and reduce time-expenditure for creating print standardization.

7) Aligning Your Print Fleet with Staff and Customer Needs

A lot can change between when you install printers and when you review them. Businesses change directions. New processes are set up. And offices and teams change. It’s important to run a print assessment every quarter to stay on top of whether your print solutions meet your needs.

For example:

  • You’ve changed business processes to automate and digitize and print-needs now outstrip usage
  • You’ve implemented a new print solution to send customers invoices, print is a bottleneck
  • External employees don’t have access to convenient print solutions and add costs printing reports
  • Staff don’t have access to mobile printing but have to print files from a mobile device in-store

A print assessment can determine where print does not meet needs and where you can optimize to better meet those needs.

8) Improving Security and Compliance

Whether you work in an industry requiring a great deal of security and compliance such as finance or medical, or simply want to reduce costs and potential risks by improving security, a print needs assessment can help. A pint needs assessment will identify risks, identify potential issues, and will suggest easy ways to solve issues. For example, if print files are frequently left in trays, you can switch to pull printing.

Print is a major cyber security risk in most organizations, and print assessment can help you identify and mitigate those risks.

Print assessments are the first step of managed print services, because they allow an MPS provider to determine what your organization needs and why. A quality print assessment will help your organization save money, reduce print waste, and improve print efficiency, which is why it’s a crucial step of any new printer implementation.