Understanding managed print services

Companies are realising the benefits of getting their output under control.

Read time 4min 40sec

From retail giants to financial services and healthcare providers, businesses are starting to realise the bottom line benefit to getting their output under control.

They are doing this through managed print services (MPS) - a defined and mature strategy designed to help manage the volume of documents flowing through the organisation and minimise the costs associated with printing, sharing and updating them.

Often overlooked, print is an infrastructure just as important as facilities, telecommunications and IT networks, and the long-term results of a successful MPS partnership include enhanced productivity, increased compliance and improved environmental sustainability, to name a few.

Investigating MPS

How does a business know if it should explore an MPS relationship? Ask the following questions:

1. Will this effort truly deliver a defined and hard rand return on investment? Gartner says yes. According to its research, enterprises can save up to 30% on printing services by selecting the right partner. Local experience confirms this: Edcon saved 30% in costs in the first year of implementing a managed print solution. This was contributed to by reducing the number of small desktop printers from 700 devices to 60-odd. In addition to the cost saving, the efficiency and productivity of the document environment was vastly improved: end-users had the benefit of the latest technology in multifunction devices placed in coherent workgroup environments. Multiple case studies exist in financial services, manufacturing, aerospace, retail/consumer goods, healthcare, insurance and government entities, with similar results.

2. Is the company benefiting from its current investments? Consider what went into the decision-making process for the company's current output environment - including the current fleet of multi-vendor copiers, printers and other hardware. Is it still delivering what is needed? Could it do more - like scanning and imaging for easy access to documents? A qualified MPS partner will assess the environment and also help transform key document-driven business processes.

3. Can the company's technology keep up? As a business changes and evolves, so must its output solution. If the current technology is unable to keep up with the demand from additional employees and increased usage, it is merely a drain on the financial and human resources. Or, if the company's current strategy does not provide flexibility as the total employee population fluctuates up or down, there is an opportunity for improvement. What's more, while the economic environment may mean businesses need to hold onto their technology assets for a longer period of time, MPS will still reduce costs by combining the right technology with software, services and proven best practices so the business can streamline workflow, eliminate time-consuming manual tasks, speed up access to critical information and reduce operational costs.

Often overlooked, print is an infrastructure just as important as facilities, telecommunications and IT networks.

Rob Abraham is MD of Bytes Document Solutions.

4. Does the print infrastructure support other company objectives? Implementing MPS not only tackles cost and productivity goals, but it can be a sustainable business practice too. By decreasing the number of output devices, KeyCorp's MPS strategy also addresses a corporate commitment to reduce paper consumption, decrease power usage and eliminate several tons of landfill waste. How? By strategically rationalising the ratio of output devices to headcount, businesses will reduce energy usage - leading to reduced carbon production and greenhouse gases. Eliminating unnecessary output helps save a significant amount of fresh water and trees via the reduction in the paper and pulp manufacturing process.

5. Does downtime cost the company? One of the fundamental challenges when assessing printing expenses is determining what is being spent and where. When the IT department is constantly fixing hardware while employees are unable to effectively print, scan and handle documents, all departments suffer. What's more, printing costs are often buried in various department budgets and each employee likely has a personalised work process that may not be optimal to reducing overall printing costs. One of the top four banks in SA saved more than 30% by implementing a managed document solution in its high-volume production area. A combination of factors, including utilisation of the latest technology and close monitoring of actual documents printed, led to this saving.

6. Does the company have more important things to focus on than print? Most businesses do not have the print management knowledge internally to handle local, national and even global print solutions without outside help. An MPS partner brings the expertise to manage, upgrade and improve myriad devices, while empowering the workforce to embrace productivity and operational changes through effective change management programmes. By assessing digital and paper document volume, related work processes and the technology that supports it, an MPS partner will develop a plan that achieves the right formula for existing employee work habits, daily volume and organisational readiness for implementing new strategies.

While MPS is not a new solution, it is one that can maximise short-term cost savings, while adding value that will prime a business for growth in the future. The first step is to see print infrastructure as a means of leveraging new sources of value.

* Rob Abraham is MD of Bytes Document Solutions.

Rob Abraham

MD of Bytes Document Solutions

Rob Abraham is MD of Bytes Document Solutions.

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