If you suspect that your print equipment could do more, you’re not alone. Research performed by one of the largest global print equipment suppliers concluded that most companies average about one device for every two knowledge workers and each device is only used for about 15 minutes a day. This same research showed that the average employee prints 1,000 to 1,200 pages per month and the average company spends between $800 and $1,000 a year per employee on document costs.

For most companies, the biggest print decision used to be equipment lease-vs.-buy, but now it’s in-house-vs.-vendor-managed print services (MPS). One of the reasons for this change is that print is now being viewed as a critical infrastructure, like IT network and facility management, rather than a simple support service.

Outsourcing MPS has many obvious benefits—not the least of which is a single point of accountability. This means formerly scattered printing resources can be consolidated into a single strategy that makes the best use of what you already own.

The way it stands in most organizations, each department is responsible for its own printers. If one breaks down, an employee requests a new one without thinking. It’s not uncommon for several printers to be so underutilized that they are actually gathering dust. The fault lies, not with employees and not with management, but in the lack of company-wide printer system oversight. This is something that most companies don’t have the capability or inclination to do.

A good MPS provider will have the experience and expertise to make a thorough assessment of your print infrastructure and create and implement a strategy to optimize what you already have. That strategy may or may not include the recommendation to add new equipment.

As your CFO knows, some of the greatest bottom line benefits come from optimizing existing resources and print equipment is no different. Consider these proven long-term ROI benefits of a successful MPS partnership:

• Cutting equipment ownership costs

• Improving productivity

• Reducing energy consumption

• Eliminating or reducing compliance penalties

• Reducing reliance on outside print shops

MPS is the comprehensive management of hardcopy tools such as copiers, printers, multifunction devices, and fax machines. As a strategy and service, MPS is designed to manage the volume of documents flowing through your company, while minimizing the costs associated with sharing, printing, and updating them.

Typically, after you sign an agreement, there will be 3 basic steps to your company’s MPS adoption:

1. Documentation: Quantifying and assessing the capabilities of your fleet.

2. Optimization: Making the best use of assets by ensuring that equipment is optimally deployed.

3. Improvement and Augmentation: Using document management and workflow strategy to improve output, make recommendations, and install new equipment where necessary.

Another function of your MPS provider will be to show you exactly where you can reduce or eliminate the need to create paper documents.

MPS providers vary in size, ability, and the hardware and software they support. Some work with specific vendors and others are vendor-neutral. One of the nice things about working with a vendor-neutral provider is that you won’t need to dispose of current equipment and may not need to purchase any new equipment.

Your MPS consultant will provide you with experts that will assist in the design, implementation and management of a printing infrastructure geared to your specific business requirements. The consultant will include printer services, parts and supplies along with customized usage reports. Most charge on a per-page basis.

Should you get serious about MPS?

Ask yourself the following 5 questions:

1. Will it deliver a solid return on investment (research shows that some enterprises save up to 30% on printing services)?

2. Are you maximizing your current print investments? Are they still performing the services you originally purchased them for? Could they do more?

3. Is your print equipment compatible with current technology? MPS might be able to reduce costs by combining the right technology with cutting-edge software and services that will enable your business to streamline workflow, eliminate time-consuming manual tasks, and reduce operational costs.

4. Does your IT department spend a lot of time servicing printer hardware? By leveraging MPS to monitor devices and repair them as needed, you free up your IT department to work on more critical projects.

5. Is green important to you? Smartly rationing print devices among employees reduces energy usage and leads to a smaller carbon footprint. Smart rationing also reduces paper use—saving natural resources.

The truth is, that if you are like most people, you have no idea how much your company is spending on printing devices, supplies, repairs, etc. But you have a sense that there are resources that are going to waste. If this is you, think seriously about seeking out a good MPS provider.

Choosing an MPS Provider

There are several things to look for when choosing a managed print provider.

• They offer an affordable solution that addresses your specific needs.

• They will be able to service and provide supplies for a complete array of printer brands, including the option of money-saving remanufactured cartridges.

• They offer fully integrated services—they have the capabilities to oversee every aspect of your print infrastructure, including assessment, management, device maintenance, consumable replenishment, and (if necessary) new equipment supply.

• They offer comprehensive technical support—experienced printer consultants.

• They have deep knowledge of the latest software and relevant technology—some MPS providers have the tools to monitor equipment status and automatically ship and replenish supplies proactively.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions and don’t hesitate to ask for hard evidence of ROI claims. You’ll want to be certain that MPS is right for your company before you commit.

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