Managed print services is one of the fastest growing industries, outstripping traditional print to the point where large-scale manufacturers like Canon, Xerox, and HP now offer their own MPS.

For many organizations, implementing MPS is a matter of scale and cost-savings, cutting the need to spend tens of thousands on upfront implementation or source hardware through numerous vendors who then don’t provide support. Print is notoriously expensive, time-consuming for IT, and prone to waste. Organizations are increasingly aware of this, with claims that print consumes some 3% or more of revenue, and are switching to managed print services.

Research by IDC shows the average organization saves 17% on total print costs, typically in relation to reduced waste, reduced footprint, and reduced cost of hardware and replacement. Among those savings is print supplies, which account for a large percentage of total costs (some studies suggest the average office employee prints 10,000 pages a year).

If you’re wondering how MPS save organizations money, looking at print supplies is a good place to start.

How MPS can save money on print supplies

Assessing Waste Costs

Waste costs happen when people waste time, when resources are wasted, and when your fleet isn’t right sized for the office or its needs. Print waste is complex, difficult to track, and often integrates into numerous aspects of print.

Your managed print services provider should assess how and why you use print, review where you’re seeing waste, where you can save money, and where you can optimize. Some common waste costs include the following.

1) Diverse Print Fleet

The more printer types, makes, and models you have, the less efficient your print fleet. Not only do you need more drivers, more software, and more upkeep, you lose efficiency because employees can’t rely on having drivers or even understanding how to use printers as they move around your office.

Your MPS will likely recommend switching to a print fleet largely made up of the same make and model where appropriate to optimize printer usage and maintenance across the organization.

2) Old Devices

Older printers require more time and money to upkeep and maintain. While printers may last 10-15 years, most quickly become inefficient and require more repairs after 5 years, which may be more costly than you think.

For example, calculating the cost of downtime means calculating employee waste time and user frustration on top of IT calls, repair and maintenance work, and spare parts.

3) Right-Sizing

Your MPS will monitor how and where users print across your organization to determine if your current fleet is suited for your organization. Rightsizing is the process of ensuring you’re not over or under equipping print, both of which are costly.

Running a large machine is significantly more expensive than a smaller one. Black and white printers are costlier than color printers. And, under-equipping print capabilities results in waste time as people literally wait for printer access.

4) Understanding Print Usage

Understanding print usage, including what percentage of print is used, what’s personal, and what is thrown away allows you to take steps to improve print standards. Implementing education programs, forcing print standards so employees print in cost-effective formats like duplex or with cost-effective fonts, and asking employees to print less can greatly reduce total costs.

Reducing the Cost of Materials

A managed print services provider should step in and reduce the total cost of materials in several ways. First, by changing how you’re actually paying for them and removing hidden costs and second by actually reducing the total you pay per page and per cartridge.

Most MPS will streamline print costs by switching to a “Cost per page” model. Rather than paying for paper, toner/ink, hardware, and software individually, you pay a single flat rate for everything. This can backfire in organizations with an extremely high page-print rate, but most MPS will actually help with that as well.

In addition, your MPS will be sourcing print supplies wholesale. This significantly reduces the total cost per page for paper, total cost for drums, cartridges, and ink refills. It might also mean reducing carbon footprint, considering you’re more likely to be using recycled paper, refilling cartridges and participating in recycling programs, because everything is handled by a single company.

Just-in-Time Service Reduces Waste

Walking into the average office, one might find a variety of standards relating to print. Most likely, the office printer is provisioned on a monthly basis, sometimes by a secretary and supplies are stored in the office.

In some cases, responsibility for purchasing and replacing supplies is delegated in the office, rather than through an external supplier or automatic delivery. The entire process is filled with waste time, storage, and utilization of resources.

MPS typically offer supplies as part of the contract, delivering paper, toner, and replacement parts based on what’s actually printed. Device management software tracks print usage, so supplies arrive on-time, reducing the need to manage and store them, and reducing the need for laymen to install them.

Everything is handled externally and automatically, meaning it’s highly unlikely office tasks will be on hold because the printer is out of ink, and unlikely someone in the office will ever spend a significant amount of time looking for supplies.

Consolidating Supply Contracts

Most traditional printer suppliers don’t service every model, don’t offer supplies and rental, and may not offer repairs. As a result, many offices maintain several contracts with organizations providing printer services, resulting in increased service and contract fees, increased visits and increased costs.

Managed Print Service Providers consolidate everything into a single contract. This will likely save you money, but it is important to review what your organization has and what’s on offer to make sure.

Managed print services are taking over business print because they typically save organizations money. Print supplies are just one area where you can cut costs. However, with different levels of service, different rates, and different services, it’s important to review your options and ask for a print assessment upfront, so you can choose a provider that meets your organization’s needs.