As an IT professional have you ever wanted to never troubleshoot a printer or copier again?

As an business owner, have you ever wracked your brain for another way to trim costs?

As an office manager, have you ever wondered why you spend hundreds of dollars and filled a closet with toner for equipment you no longer even have?

Managed print services is a way to pay by the page you copy/print and let someone else troubleshoot and maintain the equipment which cuts costs and frees up those closets because toner is delivered as-needed. 

This introduction to managed print services will explain the concept and business benefits.

Here’s the argument for print services in a nutshell: you hire someone to manage all of the devices that output a physical document. Best of all, you save money while eliminating the need to worry about equipment maintenance or repair (not to mention being able to empty out that closet full of toner and supplies you bought too much of and will no longer need).

Managed Print Services: The Official Definition

We like this definition from Gartner, a company that analyzes trends in information technology:

"Managed print services (MPS) are services offered by an external provider to optimize or manage a company’s document output. The main components provided are needs assessment, selective or general replacement of hardware, and the service, parts and supplies needed to operate the new and/or existing hardware (including existing third-party equipment if this is required by the customer). The provider also tracks how the printer, fax, copier, and MFP fleet is being used, the problems, and the user’s satisfaction.”

Managed Print Services: Our Explanation

What’s this mean in the real world? Managed print services (it's also sometimes called managed document services and print fleet management) is a fancy way of saying if it plugs into the wall and prints, we’ll take care of its maintenance and usage in the most effective manner, so you don’t have to. For decades now, there have been articles about the paperless office. All business run on documents – and you can digitize many documents. However, the paperless office is more about less paper than no paper. Until that changes, you need to manage your document output as you would any other business expense.

Because of the ease of printing and copying documents, employees often mistakenly assume that it’s cheap and often wastefully print and copy – even when they don’t really need to. Managed print services will identify how much you’re printing (and copying, faxing, and, sometimes, scanning); help you route documents to the most efficient device; place equipment in the best locations; and give you a single invoice to deal with – and one throat to choke if anything goes wrong.

Through software installed on all of the copiers and printers in your print fleet; you manage printing and print costs:

  1. Track printing by individual user, office, and/or department.
  2. Monitor your printing – and report or charge back – on a per-document, per-user, or per-client basis. How many cards and wedding programs your employees are printing right now?
  3. Send documents to the most cost-efficient printer with routing and redirection.
  4. Receive print monitoring reports to analyze and audit printer usage.
  5. Save paper – set a print quota per user/department/office.

Print fleet? Don’t let the word “fleet” throw you, you don’t need to have a huge business to invest in MPS. If you have 10 printers in your business or you’re printing high volumes of critical business documents through a smaller number of printers (or copiers), then you could benefit. Even if you have 2 or 3 printers, same rules apply.

Think of an MPS program as a “rental” service in which you are essentially paying for each page that you print and/or copy as well as for the ink and maintenance of the copier.

Each device is metered via installed one-way communication monitoring software. At the end of the month, you receive a single invoice for the documents that you printed.

A Copier By Any Other Name . . .

Would copy as sweetly; well, at least that’s what we think Shakespeare would say were he waxing poetic about a copy machine. You’ll see MFP and printer and copier (and even scanner) used throughout the paper. What are these things?

For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to break these into separate “MFP” categories – desktop/personal (which everyone calls MFPs) and business ready (what everyone still calls “the copier”). There’s an alphabet soup when it comes to MFPs. You’ll also commonly see them referred to as all-in-ones (AIO), multifunction copiers (MFC), and multifunction devices (MFD). In common, they print, copy, scan, and, usually (especially on office-oriented models), have fax capability.

Continue to Chapter 1 - The True Cost of Printing and Poorly Maintained Copiers > >

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