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Duke Kimball, PrintSmart Specialist

What are Managed Print Services, and How Does MPS Work?

Chances are, you’ve heard of Software as a Service. More and more, business have learned that it’s more cost-effective to hire platforms like software as a managed service, with a monthly cost of operation, than it would be to purchase and maintain that technology in-house. There are all sorts of SaaS applications, from email and CRM to storage and cybersecurity services. But not every aspect of your business can be done digitally. You still need paper for many aspects of your business, and where there’s paper, there are printers. Which raises the question… if you can sign up for Software as a Service, can you sign up for a print service? The answer is yes, and you may be surprised at just how cost-effective managed print services can be for your business.

How Do Managed Print Services (MPS) Work?

In order to understand the value of a managed print application, it’s crucial to understand the difference between In-House printing and the MPS model.

In-House Printing: What Usually Happens

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a small business owner or IT director walks into a big box store, or bargain shops online, and buys a fleet of desktop printers. They buy whatever’s the cheapest, and the printers are worked hard. When the printers need toner, a purchaser orders it from another big box office supply store. Nobody pays attention to how much it costs… after all, it’s just toner. The printers need it. What are you going to do? If a printer breaks? Well, that’s time and energy from the IT department that takes away from their more important tasks. And if they don’t know how to fix it… well, you could find a repair guy, but why bother when you can go back to that big box store and buy a replacement for less than 200 bucks? So desktop printers are treated as a disposable asset, and the regular supply and maintenance of the print fleet is all coming out of internal departments within the company. The costs aren’t being monitored or managed.

The Managed Print Difference

On the other hand, Managed Print is a fully comprehensive solution, designed to take the day-to-day maintenance of all your print devices off your plate. If printers break, a service technician comes around to fix them. All parts, labor, and toner are supplied. Fleets are organized as needed to improve efficiency. No time siphoned from the IT or purchasing departments. And all of it is available at a reliable, budgetable monthly fee.

Is Print as a Service Really Affordable?

That monthly fee might be reliable, but is it affordable? At first blush, it may seem strange to think that a service that streamlines your process and adds convenience could actually be a cost-savings measure, too. Since when can you get more, and pay less? The answer comes down to efficiency. Why are print costs so high? Because desktop printers are, traditionally, not very efficient. Toner is expensive, especially when you’re buying toner that’s provided by the original manufacturer. And companies have treated desktop printers as disposable, so they incur replacement costs that aren’t necessary. Thorough and mature managed print services companies, on the other hand, will offer comprehensive Print as a Service.
  • Service that can efficiently fix a printer that would otherwise be thrown away.
  • Service that can provide high-quality toner at a lower cost than most big box office supply stores.
  • Service that can provide a great overall strategy for your print environment to help lower your overall cost per page printed.
Customers are often surprised by how much their inefficient desktop print fleet is costing them, (in some cases, it can account for 1% to 3% of a company’s revenue,) and how much of a difference it makes to take a managed approach.

What Should I Look For In A Managed Print Service?

It’s not surprising, then, that almost half of all enterprises are looking to expand their use of managed print programs. But not all Print as a Service providers are created equal. So what should you look for when examining managed print services companies?

Will they help determine your printing needs?

If a company comes in and immediately proposes a complex print solution, or starts suggesting equipment upgrades before they take the time to really understand what you print and why you print it, they may not have your best interests at heart. In contrast, a mature MPS company starts by establishing your baseline of what you print today.

Will they help establish a total cost of ownership?

Not only will an MPS company worth their salt help you determine what you have and how you use it, they’ll also help you find out how much you’re paying for it. Printers, toner, repairs… it all has a cost associated to it, whether you’ve been measuring it or not. A good MPS company can show you your total cost of toner, the depreciation of your devices themselves, and even the time and energy expended by your IT department so that you know how much it’s currently costing you every time you click “File, Print.”

Will they leverage your current print fleet?

You’ve already invested in desktop printers. If the first thing an office technology company pitches is to replace your current fleet with brand new devices from their showroom, chances are they are more interested in selling you new equipment than they are about managing your print efficiently. A good MPS company can work within your current environment without trying to fix what isn’t broken.

Do they have a proactive approach to service and supply?

Don’t just check whether a potential MPS provider can offer service and supplies… look into their philosophy. Do they offer same-day or next-day service? Do they proactively monitor the levels in your fleet and proactively send toner before you’re out? Do they take the time to do quarterly assessments of your fleet to determine whether you could improve your efficiency? A proactive approach keeps your fleet running smoothly without taking up IT’s time.

Can they build a custom pricing solution to fit your fleet?

No printer fleet is the same, and no business’ print footprint is identical. So why would you settle for one-size-fits-all pricing from your managed print services company? Look to see whether your potential MPS provider offers both cost-per-page and flat rate pricing for the printers they support… and, more importantly, make sure they take the time to determine which would be the best solution for your organization.

Do they have a replacement solution?

A desktop printer, properly serviced, can last a long time. But like any piece of technology, they have the potential to break. Look for an MPS program that can offer you peace of mind for your devices, and can offer a replacement unit if and when a desktop device is beyond repair. A replacement program is a great way to keep you from the expense and hassle of acquiring new and unnecessary devices. A good MPS provider will be able to offer replacements for the devices they sell- a great one can offer replacements for all the qualifying devices they support.

Is MPS Right For You?

Managed Print Services aren’t the right fit for every company, but for most operations, taking a managed approach to their print environment is a great way to remove the burden of desktop printer maintenance from IT’s desk while helping to control the costs of supplies over time. If you’re considering whether or not managed print services are right for your organization, it’s important to start with the most important step: establishing the baseline of what printers you have in your fleet, how much you’re using them, and how much it costs to do so.