What You Need to Know Before Selecting a Managed Print Services Partner

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1 What You Need to Know Before Selecting a Managed Print Services Partner Darrell Amy, Convergence Consulting Summary Laser printers represent one of the last areas of unmanaged costs inside a company. Many companies are using Managed Print Services (MPS) strategies to realize significant cost savings, productivity improvements and security enhancements in their business. This guide helps business owners understand the process of evaluating a managed print services program for their business. In This Buyer s Guide The True Cost of Printing Step 1: Measure Your Current Costs Step 2: Reduce Your Total Cost Why Businesses Are Using Managed Print Services Elements of a Good MPS Program Selecting a MPS Partner

2 Managed Print Services Defined Managed Print Services is the active management and optimization of document output devices like laser printers and copiers along with the related business processes that create these documents. i Realizing the total cost of printing, many companies are starting to take a proactive approach to: Discovering their total print costs Optimizing their printer fleet Engaging a partner to provide supplies, service and support Improving their printing environment over time The True Cost of Printing Even in today s computer-based world, printed documents still drive many key business processes. From proposals and contracts to invoices and shipping tickets, paper documents provide a critical foundation for most business processes. To produce all of these documents businesses have fleets of printing devices that include printers, copiers, fax machines and multifunction systems. How much does document printing cost for your business? When it comes to copiers and multifunction systems, most businesses actively manage their fleets with monthly leases and/or cost-per-page contracts. With a few minutes of quick accounting research a company can tell you what they are spending on their copiers. Unlike copier contracts, costs related to laser printing are typically un-measured and unmanaged. As a result, most companies have no idea what they are spending on laser printing. Yet, many companies spend more money on their laser printers than they do on their copiers. Hidden Costs The challenge is that most of the costs related to laser printing are hidden, buried in multiple budgets. Consider the following costs related to laser printing: 1. Supply Inventories Printer cartridges are expensive. Many cartridges cost well over $100 each. A color printer requires four cartridges for cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and black (K). This means just one printer could have over $500 in supplies related to it. Most people are afraid of running out of printer toner so they stock pile extra cartridges. Look inside the supply closets of most businesses and you ll find thousands of dollars in un-managed supply inventory. Any other area of a business with this much inventory would be actively managed. However, most companies have no idea how many cartridges they have on site. Look inside the supply closets of most businesses and you ll find thousands of dollars in unmanaged supply inventory. 2. Theft Thousands of dollars in printer cartridges represent too much of a temptation for some employees. Just do a quick search on ebay for printer cartridges and you will discover that there are many individuals selling cartridges. Printer cartridge theft costs businesses thousands of dollars a year. 3. Repairs Printers are mechanical devices. That means that they will break, requiring onsite service. Typically when a printer goes down the end user calls the I.T. department. These high-value employees end up getting distracted from critical I.T. issues. When they go to the printer, they often discover the issue is a mechanical issue requiring a third party company to do the repair. Printer repairs are often made on an ad-hoc basis, resulting in un-planned bills.

3 4. User Support End users have questions about printers. They typically call your I.T. department or I.T. support partner. These people may not have the specific printing expertise to answer the question. 5. Hardware The irony of most printers is that the lower the cost of the printer the higher the cost of operation. Many employees buy inexpensive printers thinking that they are saving the company money. However, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of these devices ends up being much higher over time. 6. Lost Productivity Broken printers frustrate end users. Slow printers in high-volume areas cause people to stand around waiting for documents. Having the wrong printing devices in a location can add up to hours of lost productivity each year. When you look at all of these cost areas it becomes quickly evident that laser printing might be costing your business more than you know. When the total cost of printing is added up most companies are surprised at the amount they are spending. At the same time, measuring the total cost of printing also uncovers areas for improvement: Cost Savings Productivity Improvement Security Enhancement Step 1: Measure Your Total Cost of Printing The first step to reducing print costs is to understand what you are currently spending. To measure the total cost of printing you need to know: 1. What printers you have 2. How many pages are being printed on each device 3. How much each device costs to operate Enabling Technology: Print Discovery Software Gathering the data you need to measure the total cost of printing would be a timeconsuming, if not impossible process. Print Management Software makes this process easy. By installing a non-invasive software application on your network you can get immediate visibility into a full inventory of printers on your network. This software also records the usage of these devices. By measuring usage over a few weeks or a month, you can get a fairly accurate representation of your usage by device. The next step is to determine the Total Cost of Ownership of each printer and your total printer fleet. This can be done in one of two ways. Many print management software tools provide a database of supply costs for printers that can give you an accurate estimate of your cost of ownership. With a little more involvement you can pull up your printer cartridge invoices and enter your actual cost of each supply item. The Print Discovery Software will produce a report showing you a full inventory of your printers, how many pages you are printing and what your operating costs are for each printer. This gives you the data you need to begin managing your fleet. Step 2: Reduce Your Total Cost of Printing A Managed Print Services partner can help you discover ways to reduce your total cost of printing while helping you improve productivity and user satisfaction. Gathering the data you need to measure the total cost of printing would be a timeconsuming, if not impossible process. Print Management Software makes this process easy. Cost-Per-Page Agreements A Managed Print Services partner typically offers cost-per-page billing arrangements that include everything you need for printing in a cost-per-page: supplies, service, help desk support and preventative maintenance. If you need new printers, the cost of hardware can also be included in the cost per page. In this arrangement you know exactly what you

4 are spending on printing. This creates a baseline that can be improved over time as your business needs change. Device Consolidation Look in most offices and you ll find a printer sitting next to a copier and a fax machine. All three of these devices essentially do the same thing. However, each device requires unique supplies and support contracts. In some cases, it may make sense to consolidate devices into one multifunction system that prints, copies, faxes and scans. Repurposing Devices In some cases a high-volume printer may be located in a low-usage area while low volume printers might be in a high-usage area. Re-deploying devices with the lowest cost of ownership to high-volume areas can provide cost savings. The discovery process can help you see opportunities to re-purpose devices. Rules-Based Printing It makes sense to send larger print jobs to devices with the lowest cost of operation. Rules-Based Printing software allows you to create printing rules that make this happen automatically. For example, if a user is going to print more than 20 pages, the job could automatically be routed to a departmental printer rather than the user s desktop printer. The user would receive a pop-up notification that their job is going to be printed on the departmental printer. Why Businesses Use Managed Print Services Here are some of the main reasons that small businesses are adopting MNS. Frees Up the I.T. Team Most businesses have limited I.T. resources. These high-value staff members need to be focused on key company initiatives and network security. Printer problems and supply needs can be a big distraction. Plus, most I.T. specialists are not trained or equipped to work on mechanical devices like printers. Outsourcing the management of printers frees up I.T. people to focus on their jobs. Productivity Enhancements Having the right print devices in the right locations helps you boost office productivity. Instead of wasting time waiting for prints, users can get on with the work at hand. A good MPS partner will be able to see productivity improvement opportunities that you may not see. Extend the Lifecycle of the Printer Fleet You ve made a big investment in printing equipment over the years. Managing these devices and keeping them properly maintained extends their useful lifecycle. A MPS program will help maximize the lifespan of your devices. When it is time for these devices to be retired your MPS partner will make sure they are properly recycled. Enhanced Security Today s businesses face intense regulation when it comes to the protection of personally identifiable information (PII). Printers can pose a privacy risk. Personal information left on printer trays or unencrypted on printer hard drives can pose a risk. Your MPS partner can help you identify these risks and reduce them with the appropriate print security technologies. Addresses Problems Proactively Rather than letting small problems become big problems, printer problems can be addressed while they are small. Print monitoring allows issues to be taken care of in advance. This could include automatically shipping toner to a printer that is running low. It could also include proactively sending a technician to repair a printer that needs maintenance.

5 Maps Out a Technology Upgrade Plan Technology will continue to evolve. As your needs change, your MPS partner can work with you to determine when and how to implement new technologies. Reduces The Number of Vendors By the time you buy printer supplies, pay for support and purchase hardware, you begin to realize that there many vendors can be associated with office printing. A MPS program reduces all of these to one vendor and one monthly invoice for all of your printing needs. This reduces the number of vendors you have to manage along with the number of invoices you have to pay. It also gives you complete visibility into the cost of managing your printer fleet. Elements of a Good MPS Program A good Managed Print Services program will include the following services: Proactive Monitoring The same Print Management software that your MPS partner used to get an inventory of printing devices and measure your total cost of printing can be used to proactively monitor your network. A good MPS partner will continually monitor your printer fleet. If a device needs service or is running low on toner they will be able to take care of it proactively. One Monthly Invoice Instead of multiple invoices from multiple vendors your MPS partner can send you one monthly invoice that summarizes all of your printing needs. With a cost-per-page program that includes supplies, service and on-site support your printing budget will become much more predictable and you will know exactly what you are spending on printing. Help Desk Services When one of your employees has a printer problem they can call the MPS help desk instead of distracting your I.T. department. The help desk is staffed by professionals that spend their entire day resolving printer issues. Chances are that they will be able to take care of the issue much faster than the person in your office. On Site Repair There are times when you need someone to come and fix a printer. Whether the printer is jamming or a maintenance kit needs to be installed you need someone who can come resolve the issue quickly. A good MPS provider will have a full team of field technicians that can come to your office to resolve the issue. Technology Roadmap As technology continues to evolve you need to keep up with the latest innovations. Sometimes it s hard to know what technologies to implement and when to do it. A MPS partner can help you develop a technology roadmap. They can take care of installing new technology and removing the old devices. They can also offer acquisition strategies that allow you to pay for your technology over time instead of investing capital that could be used for core business initiatives. Selecting a Managed Print Services Partner There are a number of key things to consider when selecting a MPS partner. Remote Monitoring Look for a MPS partner that has remote monitoring capabilities. This will mean that they can monitor your printer fleet and respond proactively to your needs. The remote monitoring software will also automatically gather the print counts from each of your devices to make sure your billing is both simple and accurate.

6 Field Service Team You need a partner that has a field service team with a track record of responsive service. Make sure they are certified to work on your devices. Ask your partner about their service organization and look for references from other local companies. Help Desk Support Many end user computer problems can be quickly resolved through a call or chat with a help desk. You need a partner with a help desk staffed by knowledgeable employees that are able to resolve issues so your team can get back to work. Technology Acquisition Options Over time you will need new technologies. You will need to upgrade your printers and multifunction systems. Look for a partner that can help you acquire these devices with flexible terms. Service Level Agreement Your MNS partner should provide you with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that clearly outlines their performance expectations including response times, what is monitored and how you will be invoices. Take time to discuss this with your provider in detail so you have a mutual understanding of how you will work together. Regular Performance Review There are always opportunities for improvement. Request a regular performance review with your MPS partner where you can review the print usage data and collaborate to find ways to further improve productivity, reduce costs and enhance security. Conclusion Your fleet of laser printers may represent one of the best areas for potential productivity improvement, cost reduction and security enhancement. If this seems like it could be a good fit for your organization contact a Managed Print Services partner today to get started by understanding the current costs of your printer fleet. Frequently Asked Questions Is My Business A Good Fit For Managed Print Services? If you have more than 10 laser printers in your business or you have a few printers that print out high volumes of critical business documents then you are a good candidate to benefit from a Managed Print Services program. Will choosing a partner and managing the relationship be time consuming? Managing the relationship should not be time consuming. In fact, a good MPS relationship should save you and your staff considerable amounts of time by reducing the hassles of an unmanaged printer fleet. About provides a full portfolio of Managed Print Services for businesses along with a full suite of hardware, software and managed services. Your company will benefit from a team of certified professionals with a history of providing responsive support. To learn more about how we could help your organization, contact us today E. Beverly Rd Phoenix, AZ About the Author Darrell Amy is the President of Convergence Consulting, a company dedicated to helping businesses benefit from the convergence of technologies and service providers. He has spent the last 20 years building a bridge between the needs of end users and the capabilities of technology providers. He is a frequent contributor to office technology conferences and journals. Copyright Notice Copyright 2014, Convergence Consulting, Inc. Reproduction without written permission is forbidden. i Managed Print Services Association

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