Eight crucial questions to ask potential print management companies

Johannesburg, 23 Oct 2023
Not all MPS solution providers are created equal.
Not all MPS solution providers are created equal.

Print management has moved far beyond fixing machines and managing supplies. Now it’s a key strategic consideration for your business, helping you operate more efficiently, cut costs, streamline processes and provide better service to employees and customers.

Print management providers are raising their game, and offerings are constantly evolving to meet the needs of a fast-changing marketplace. But not all MPS solution providers are created equal, and you should take the time to properly evaluate their print management offerings and find out whether they can meet the needs of your organisation.

Here are eight crucial questions you should ask them:

1. How secure is their solution?

Sixty-three percent of organisations said they’d had a print-related data breach. That’s a pretty sobering statistic, and one we all need to be concerned about. Printing breaches could be anything from confidential information lying around in printer trays waiting to be collected, to unauthorised access of documents stored on your network or in the cloud. Not to mention the security challenges posed by the unstoppable rise of bring your own device (BYOD).

Robust security is an absolute must when it comes to a print management solution. Be sure to ask your prospective provider:

  • How they secure data as it moves from computers to printers.
  • How they release that information securely.
  • Whether or not they can set you up with access controls for different users.
  • Just as important, make sure their print management security works seamlessly with your existing security set-up.

2. Does it offer the flexibility and integration you need?

One size definitely doesn’t fit all when you’re looking at print management solutions. Every organisation’s set-up is different, so you should find out whether your MPS solution provider has the flexibility to adapt to your environment.

From single-server and single-site to complex multi-server, multi-location and even multinational infrastructures, the solution should scale with ease and handle any level of complexity. It should support print servers, direct IP printing or a combination of both, and help you optimise your infrastructure for cost, ease of management and user experience. Integration with your existing IT set-up is vital, so that there’s minimal disruption during roll-out (or after). Most organisations have a complex IT ecosystem, so an MPS solution needs to co-exist seamlessly with existing vendors, technologies and processes.

3. How useful are the reporting capabilities?

Print management solutions shouldn’t take a set-and-forget approach. Your print environment is constantly evolving, so extracting insight from data is crucial for continuous improvement.

You should look for reporting capabilities that are dynamic – analysing and monitoring usage in real-time to help you improve security, accountability and efficiency. Ideally, you should be able to drill down to get to the detail behind the headline numbers and customise reports so they’re directly relevant to your goals and KPIs.

Look into report generation and schedules, as well as delivery mechanisms (eg, e-mail or dashboard). Also, find out if the print management company has the in-house expertise to turn raw data into business intelligence, so they can add value to your bottom line.

4. Is it a one-size-fits-all solution or a tailored one?

It’s important when you’re evaluating an MPS solution that you’re getting true ROI – that you’re paying for what you’re using, but no more. A modular approach with flexibility is a must if you’re to fully benefit from the cost savings the solution can deliver. You can add modules as your organisation grows and your needs change. And just as importantly, you can remove modules if you need to scale back. This flexible, pay-as-you-go approach optimises your return on investment and ensures predictable, budgetable costs. Make sure you aren’t being tied down by a rigid contract.

5. How easy is it for end-users and your IT department?

Your print management solution needs to balance the sometimes opposing needs of users and your IT department. Users want easy, friction-free printing anywhere, at any time, on any device. They should be able to access, route, scan and share documents easily and efficiently, whether they’re on-site, on the move or working from home. But that freedom and flexibility shouldn’t come at the price of an increased burden on your IT department. They want a solution that’s easy to configure and administer, as they add printers and users, and adapt to the changing demands of a busy print environment.

6. Will it scale as your organisation grows?

This is a key question to ask your MPS solution provider. No print environment stands still as a company grows and expands. New users, departments and offices, both at home and abroad, make for a complex set-up. Add in new technologies and working practices and a flexible, scalable approach is a must. So it’s crucial to ask if there are limits on the number of MFPs a solution can handle, and how it will manage multi-site or multinational infrastructures.

7. Will it identify opportunities for cost savings?

Make sure you ask your MPS solution provider whether their offering gives detailed insight into print usage and costs, identifying areas for savings and efficiencies. You should be able to get a detailed breakdown of usage patterns that you can slice and dice any way you want – by user, device, department, print server or office. You can see whether you’re getting maximum return on infrastructure investment (analysing under- or over-utilised printers), operating as efficiently as possible (with printer locations optimised for workgroups) and achieving economies of scale (ordering supplies centrally and proactively).

8. Is it best-in-class and future-proof?

Many print management solutions are developed in-house. On the face of it, that’s great. The downside is that they’re often not full-service offerings. So they’re not as robust as a partner solution that’s backed by industry expertise and extensive, hands-on experience across thousands of customers over many years. Custom-built solutions are often overtaken by the rapid pace of change and are unable to adapt to new technologies or scale with speed and ease. A partner solution is built on industry best practices and constantly evolves to handle the latest technological advances and working practices.

With so much choice among print management companies, asking the right questions is essential. Getting the answers to these eight key questions will help you make the right choice – for your users, IT department, customers and business.