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Two Ways to Turbocharge Your MPS Solutions

3 Nov, 2014 By: Bill DeStefanis, Nuance Communications

The relentless need by end-user organizations to improve office productivity provides an opening for dealers to deliver better, more complete Managed Print Services (MPS) solutions that go beyond auditing and supply management. As organizations gain control over their hardware costs, examining, monitoring and enhancing document workflows provide not only great cost savings, but also increased productivity and operational excellence. The core elements of an effective MPS software portfolio that enhances productivity and reduces costs are print management, and document capture and workflow solutions.

Essential to providing comprehensive MPS offerings that meet the varied demands of organizations are brand-independent software solutions that tie into the hardware and software solutions organizations rely on to run and manage their business. This includes the ability to run as embedded applications on various MFP devices, and connectors that tie printing and scanning hardware directly into business processes and back-end systems.

Why Independent?

Before getting into the critical elements of value-added software for MPS offerings, it is important to understand how and why independent solutions benefit your customers’ organizations.  If software capabilities are brand specific or limited in the number of brands they can support, end-user organizations may see your MPS solution as limited or locking them into choices they don’t want to make.

Providing brand-independent software enhances your market position, by positioning your solutions as customer-centric, as opposed to force-fitting a particular brand to a customer’s environment.  Also, solutions developed by independent software providers are typically more robust than applications from hardware providers, because their focus is on software not hardware – this approach addresses a broader set of end-user needs.

Print Management

A strong print management solution is a basic requirement for your MPS offering, not only to understand how print resources are allocated and used, but to also influence end user behavior through properly established print policies. Print management software should deliver a set of essential capabilities that include audit and tracking, and print policies.

Audit and Tracking

The ability to track documents that move through the primary output devices is crucial, and the software must be able to track not only to the device level but also to the individual user. Tracking and measuring usage over time can help businesses make better ongoing decisions about device deployment and printing requirements. Cost recovery, with the ability to allocate costs and even charge back to various departments or billing codes, is another critical feature.

Print Policies

A good print management solution will allow businesses to implement print policies to ensure that printing is performed responsibly, securely and within corporate directives, all while reducing costs. Basic print policies can be used to control access to devices, encourage users to print responsibly by printing only what they need and when the need it, route print jobs to the most cost-effective devices, and assist with managing print quotas. In addition, print management software should help identify and eliminate unnecessary printing, such as the printing of e-mails or unauthorized personal documents. 

Capture and Workflow

Automating workflow is probably the most significant opportunity businesses have to reduce document costs and drive efficiencies in the document environment. Your MPS solutions should help solve this fundamental challenge many organizations face with office documents.

Paper itself is a hindrance to driving efficiencies into many current work processes, and MPS by its very nature is a program that seeks to optimize the use of paper. One component of that strategy is a reduction in paper consumption, fueled by the consolidation of print devices and controlled access to printing capabilities. Scanning is equally important in stopping the spread of non-essential paper in the office environment, as is the ability to work with scanned files at the desktop with PDF software.

Most organizations have multiple back-end systems and desktop software that touch digital content in some way. The capture solution must be flexible enough to interface with all of these technologies, and operate on a customer’s existing MFPs. Again, pay careful consideration to what future needs may be as the organizations does not want future hardware decisions based on current software solutions. 

The distributed network MFP combined with scanning software provides the ability to convert paper to digital format at the most opportune point in the overall process. This is how MPS can drive real efficiencies into existing business processes, which explains why workflow software and intelligent scanning should be a fundamental core capability of any MPS solution.

To address these efficiency opportunities, ensure your MPS offering has capture and workflow capabilities that include intelligent scanning and searchable data.

Intelligent Scanning

Document capture software must have the intelligence to scan directly into existing document programs and back-end systems, and in the format that is needed. In today’s business climate, scanning has moved from being mostly a back-office requirement to something that is utilized by nearly every employee. The value of scanning has transitioned far beyond storage and archival. Today, individuals need the ability to scan directly from the front panel of the MFP.

Searchable Data

The most effective scanning solutions must convert paper-based documents into editable, searchable text files. Scanning to a static digital file format creates an electronic document that is no more valuable than paper itself. It is also important to be able to convert documents into standard office file formats such as PDF, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and others. This is crucial to streamlining workflows by reducing the amount of time spent rekeying or searching for information.

The ability to look beyond the print environment to include document workflow optimization should be a foundational capability for any MPS provider. Businesses need to understand that print savings, while important, should only be viewed as a single component of MPS and not the sole target. An effective managed print services engagement should not only reduce printing costs, but can drive cost savings in other areas such as fewer break/fix interventions, reduced IT and help desk calls, improvements in document workflow and business processes, and reduced environmental impact.

Leveraging independent software for both print management, and document capture and workflow can improve your market position. This approach will open the door for your company to deliver more comprehensive solutions to customers.  It will also position you as a customer-centric solutions provider that matches technology to client requirements, making you a strategic vendor positioned for lasting engagements.

Bill DeStefanis is Director of MFP Product Management for Nuance. He was head of Product Management at eCopy, responsible for all desktop and MFP products. Before joining eCopy, Bill was vice president of product marketing at ScanSoft Inc. (now Nuance). He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from North Adams State College and an MBA from Suffolk University. Visit http://www.nuance.com for company information.

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