Managed print services are everywhere, with solutions on offer from most major print retailers. But, if you’re considering making the switch to MPS, what does a provider or vendor actually offer? Understanding what you can expect, which benefits you’ll likely see, and what should be included will help you to make an informed decision when deciding if MPS is right for you and when choosing an MPS vendor.
Importantly, MPS contracts will vary, some will provide print supplies some will not, some will offer different levels of security and management or different levels of personalization and individualization. Paying attention to what you get for your contract is important.
Printer hardware is the base-service provided by any managed print services vendor. Here, you should receive several levels of service:
- A print-needs assessment to determine team-level printer needs
- Print-hardware suited for print-volume, print-quality, and print-output
- Ongoing printer maintenance and management
Conducting an initial needs-assessment allows your MPS provider to make key decisions regarding best-fit and needs, so they can install printers to optimize performance. Rather than installing the same hardware in every office, each team receives printers that meet their quality and print-volume or security needs.
Your printer hardware should be included as part of your contract, which should include a standard lease contract (repair and replacement are covered), as well as an ongoing optimization contract (the MPS vendor is responsible for determining when it is in your best interest to upgrade the printer to reduce costs).
Printer Software and Servers
A quality MPS provider will install printer services for local area network and printer software across your organization. This will move all your printers onto the same management software, enabling a single, seamless printer network. For example, many offices have no dedicated print network and architecture and may actually use internet or the standard office LAN for this purpose. Moving print to its own network and servers will reduce demand on those servers, reduce costs over printing over internet, and likely improve print-quality and speed because print has a dedicated server. It also improves print security, while allowing you to maintain print archives and logs, so individuals can go back and print from their queue, track what was printed, and maintain access and user logs for improved quality.
Setting up office-wide printer software offers multiple benefits including allowing individuals to print from any printer without installing new software, to set up printer queues and print from those without wasting time returning to computers, and better print and print-usage management. Online printer management also allows you to manage supplies, printer condition, and user-access management in one place, which greatly simplifies managing print.
Proactive Print Management
Most MPS vendors offer some form of proactive print and printer management, which covers maintenance, repairs, supplies, and needs-assessment. This means that printer usage is monitored online and your account manager will determine when you need new printer supplies, when your printer needs maintenance, and respond automatically to printer alerts in case it requires a repair. Your organization will automatically receive print supplies such as toner and paper when or before needed. You’ll also receive printer upgrades when office needs begin to outstrip capacity or downgrade the printer when office needs shrink and running a larger printer is no longer cost-effective.
Proactive print management also means managing page-output and volume, so you can track what you’re spending on print and where. This will help you manage total cost of print, environmental footprint, and will help you reduce print in key areas by offering education regarding costs and environmental impact. User-access management also means that high-print volumes are linked to individual accounts, which can be hugely beneficial when making key decisions.
This includes actively checking for issues, actively maintaining printers, and working to prevent problems before they occur and productivity is affected.
Finally, MPS includes its own IT or help-desk, which reduces demand on your internal IT. Teams can simply call a dedicated line, immediately receive support from a dedicated print-specialist, and if necessary, set up an internal ticket for repair or maintenance. This greatly improves efficiency over a standard lease, where you would have employees contact IT, who would then have to call a third-party vendor for repairs if they couldn’t manage it themselves. Therefore, MPS should offer faster and more efficient printer maintenance and repair.
Printer Security and Information Security
Printers are often a weak link in information security, both in terms of physical data left in trays and in terms of easy-to-access printer queues and vulnerable USB ports. Your MPS vendor will evaluate your security risks and needs and implement solutions.
This may include secured-access print, where individuals have to sign in using an ID and password or pin or scan an ID badge to access their printer queue. It may also include better firewalls and network security, Virtual-LAN to limit external access to printers, and other IT solutions. Finally, your MPS vendor may implement educational measures to inform individuals of risks, implement empty-tray policies, and teach safer printer-usage policies.
While not every organization needs these security measures, it’s important to have them if you do, because it may greatly reduce risks of data leaks across your company.
Ongoing Print Network Optimization
From assessment programs to optimize printer hardware to waste-reduction and recycling programs designed to reduce carbon footprint, MPS are very much about ongoing optimization. Here, MPS tend to look at carbon footprint, energy efficiency, waste paper, printer downtime, printer-usage fit, and so on. Optimizing these means tracking usage, optimizing printer network, automating document workflows, tracking waste, and implementing programs to educate and inform employees in between software and hardware measures.
An MPS provider offers a full end-to-end print service solution, including long-term management and ongoing optimization, with the intent of improving printer efficiency, reducing costs, and reducing impact. With goals including improving the efficiency of print, productivity of employees, and reducing total costs, most MPS will offer very positive benefits and a return on investment for your organization.