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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Missed Opportunities in Managed Print Services

Managed Print Services (MPS), or the act of supplying and servicing printing devices, originated before 2007. MPS engagements promise supplies and/or service delivery, billed by usage.

For example, for every page printed, a provider will charge as little as 0.0120 for each. Invoicing is periodic and covers supplies along with any service calls required to maintain the devices under contract. At the base level, when an end user requires toner or a service call, the provider sends supplies or dispatches a technician with the goal of meeting defined Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

The promise of MPS was the continuous management of an unmanaged resource – which would ultimately reduce costs. Some programs promised as much as a 30% reduction in printing costs, but for many MPS clients, these costs were never realized.

From banking to healthcare, every industry has explored the many facets of managed print services and experienced false promises.

There are three basic missed MPS opportunities:
  1. Device reduction and fleet optimization, resulting in lower costs
  2. Support for paper-to-digital workflow transformation
  3. Enhanced customer relationships
Device reduction and fleet optimization

For decades, printers have been purchased and installed ad-hoc. It was assumed that every new employee required a PC and printer to fulfill their assigned duties, so the number of printing devices grew exponentially. The transmission of information shifted from paper to screen, but the production of printers and copiers did not slow.

Overcapacity in print environments was institutional. For example, consider all the copiers capable of reproducing tabloid-sized (11” x 17”) documents. These machines must be physically large enough to support the paper size; rollers, fusers, glass, output trays, and the like. Yet, when analyzed, less than 3% of ALL business output is in the tabloid format, but nearly 90% of copiers were built to support the larger media size.

Today, companies have more print devices than they need, which has generated a pool of underutilized assets and avoidable costs. Though net new device installations are decreasing, a significant increase in operational productivity around the print is still nebulous.

Support for paper-to-digital workflow transformation

As the idea of MPS grew and more assessments were performed, companies started examining the reasons employees print in the first place. (The least expensive image is the one that is never printed.) Additionally, as tablets and smartphones invaded the corporate space, information began to flow from screen to screen more often and businesses naturally started printing less.

For MPS providers, this presents quite a quandary: promoting a reduction in print (one of the marketing pillars of MPS) means shrinking revenues. Presented with the choice of either moving into digital workflow solutions or continuing the old ways of contractual service and supplies management, most providers chose the latter. Regardless, organizations are organically discovering ways to move and present the information faster than the speed of paper: without (and some might say in spite of) printer and copier manufacturers’ MPS programs.

Enhanced customer relationships

Many organizations feel they can better manage cost reduction in-house, without an outside vendor. Aligning internally-managed MPS goals with an overarching organizational vision is easier accomplished without conflicting intent. A provider usually is serving an equipment quota whereas IT departments serve end users.

The missed opportunity for most MPS providers is the chance to become a technology partner. Because printers and the management of output assets fall within the IT realm (an area unfamiliar to most MPS providers) the chance to build credibility with IT in addition to procurement was inherent to the assessment process. Unfortunately, managing to status quo became the norm as breakout opportunities for deeper relationships slipped away.

Today, organizations might be implementing their third or fourth MPS engagement. But what have we learned?

  • Who’s responsible for measuring cost reductions?
  • How are results measured?
  • How do you manage a new MPS program?
  • Do you mix copiers and printers into the SLA?
  • What are the results? Have costs been decreased and goals met?

Here are some basic recommendations:

  • Treat output devices as endpoints.
  • Define and implement clear assessment protocols
  • Initiate asset tags and an asset management program
  • Design refresh strategies similar to PC/laptop
  • Define output goals (for example, paper reduction, enhanced patient experience, etc.) that are supported by executive management

There are around 30 relevant points to consider when looking to reduce the costs associated with moving information within and outside your organization – and the cost of toner is just one. The five recommendations above represent the beginning of a Print Policy.

Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll share more on how to design a realistic and sustainable Print Policy.

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Greg Walters, Incorporated