When it comes to sustainable solution based offerings to businesses, the in-vogue term used in the print industry is “Managed Print Services (MPS)”. This term has come to be loosely used and not quite defined, causing confusion not only among decision makers in the consumer market but also within the industry suppliers themselves.
So, what is Managed Print Services? It is not uncommon to hear of a business saying that they have an MPS Strategy in place and yet when one delves a bit deeper into the actual service in place, there are gaps found in the solution.
Below are 3 principles which can be used to assess whether or not your business has “Managed Print Services” in place:
1. Initial Business Case
Managed Print Services is built around a project plan with a view to fulfilling your specific business needs. In the same way that a doctor cannot prescribe a medicinal and therapeutic plan without a proper prognosis, an MPS provider cannot give you a solution without first understanding your business’ needs.
This is typically done through some form of an assessment of your current environment with a view to identifying areas of weakness in your print environment.
To understand your print environment, the following items are explored:
a.) A clear definition of the business’ drivers.
Typical business drivers for implementing MPS are:
- Cost reduction
- Efficiency gains
- Visibility on volumes / what is being printed
- Volume reduction
- Digital solutions
b.) A complete and accurate asset list.
This includes all document output devices, such as copiers, printers, faxes, multi-function devices, scanners, etc.
c.) A reliable data set of volumes pertaining to the asset list.
This data is important to understand if your devices are fit-for-purpose, as well as identifying your high-volume areas in the business.
d.) An understanding of business impact.
Make sure to know what the end user is experiencing and how much work your internal team is burdened with to produce that end user experience
2. The Solution
Now that your problem is defined, the MPS provider will be able to deliver a tailored solution to your business case requirements.
Those requirements are:
Devices that are not fit-for-purpose must be identified and targeted for replacement or removal at the time they are flagged for such.
b.) SLA requirements:
Make sure to negotiate favourable terms on your SLA's. This means that your business will be protected against any costly downtime's with added contingency planning, have reasonable pricing and will have commitment from the managed print service vendor for provision of the service of devices they have not sold to you.
Any reputable MPS provider will give you a clear definition of a project plan, deliverable, and targets speaking to change management alone.
Reporting is not only about datasets, but also the analysis on the data sets, outlining action items to address issues or problem areas.
e.) Strategies aligning to identified business drivers:
If the business wants to reduce paper usage, for example, the MPS provider must propose ways in which this can be done. This includes new technologies and business process mapping.
Often, a business will appoint an MPS provider, which will essentially leave it with a shiny new “solution” including hardware and software without a strategy which effects change, complete with assigned accountable parties and deliverables.
If your business is implementing Managed Print Services, an emphasis on the “management” aspect of this term must come to the fore.
This means that the service provider is responsible for:
a.) Successfully implementing the required software needs.
b.) Periodically gathering and collating the data pertaining to your fleet with clear action points, which includes volume analysis, SLA delivery tracking, waste disposal reporting, etc.
c.) Is contractually obligated to perform on these functions. The aim of an MPS solution is to outsource every possible pain point that might arise from the print environment in your business. If your service provider shirks from any of these responsibilities, you do not have an MPS solution in place.
d.) Staying on top of industry trends to advise on any new technologies to drive efficiency within the business.
e.) Ensuring that vendors deliver on the SLA’s.
f.) Monitoring of costs and usage to identify possible ways in which this can be addressed and reduced.
It is always well and good to use popular jargon like “Managed Print Service” for a possible solution to a business’ needs, but it is important to make sure that a clear definition is made between a “product” and a “service”. Make sure to discern between the two before deciding on the solution that will best fit your business needs.