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Winning Playbook for Government: Managed Print Services Programs

4 Sep, 2014 By: Kathy De Santi

Many local and state government institutions have a new focus – managed print services (MPS) – on dramatically reducing print-related expenditures and redirect funds to meet the needs of their communities.

This sounds great, but is it practical? Government agencies and municipalities typically manage purchase and maintenance activities in a decentralized fashion. Complicating the situation, IT has traditionally been responsible for printer purchase, supplies and support, while procurement oversees the document management programs. The sheer effort to manage countless multifunction products (MFPs), fax machines, and printers may cause significant operational impact.

What Does It Mean?September 2014 Cover Story Image

MPS focuses on continual optimization of document output and workflow. According to The Gartner Group, adopting an MPS program, including fleet optimization efforts, can typically save an organization 30 percent off its print costs.  It’s no surprise then that cost is the primary driver for most government entities considering MPS. But what is the best way to reduce cost?

MPS programs can take many shapes.  To implement a truly comprehensive program, it is important to design a program that covers all aspects of document management including:

  • Assessment Services – including detailed data and floor plan reviews – to confirm requirements and optimize device placement, prior to new device procurement.
  • Optimization Services – including reallocating usable networked printers where appropriate.
  • Legacy Printer maintenance and supplies to support existing fleet requirements.
  • Document Output & Device Management Solutions designed to help simplify and overcome device and fleet management issues, as well as optimize, protect and control print volumes and expenses.
  • Workflow Solutions to scan, process, manage, and distribute electronic document images and the data they contain.
  • Security Programs, tools and technologies to safeguard equipment and information.
  • Environmentally Friendly programs to promote green initiatives, including toner recycling.
  • End-user Behavior Management – the solution should include strategies and technology to help reduce printing, lower costs and encourage environmental responsibility.

Best Practices

The concept of implementing MPS can seem monumental.  To ensure the success of any MPS initiative, government entities should consider such proven best practices as:

  1. Partnership – establish a collaborative partnership and be fully committed to working together with your vendor(s) to achieve success. 
  1. Ownership – determine clear internal ownership of the initiative by assigning a project champion.
  1. Setting Expectations – a crisp project plan, with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, deliverables and deadlines, is key to a successful implementation, ensuring installation occurs on time and within budget.
  1. Phased Approach – embracing a staggered deployment approach allows for immediate cost savings and operational streamlining, while mitigating the impact of outstanding lease obligations.
  1. Communication – it is critical to communicate the rationale for the shift to a managed print environment to all staff members, initially and throughout the implementation process.
  1. Simplified Structure – a single point of contact for all service, supplies and new equipment can greatly simplify the administrative aspects of document management.
  1. Automation – leverage the tools available to introduce automation – from supplies to service to relieve the burden on staff, expedite service and reduce downtime.

Picking Your Partner

Perhaps the most critical aspect of the process is vendor selection. Since MPS engagements often run at least three to five years, carefully choose a preferred partner with the following credentials.

  • Vision – ability to provide comprehensive analysis and recommendations that combine solutions, equipment and tools to achieve optimal business workflows.
  • Experience – proven capabilities, technology, processes, and tools to effectively deliver print management solutions.
  • High-quality Equipment – devices should be user-friendly, fast, efficient and reliable.
  • Existing Infrastructure Support – in addition to new devices, the partner should be an Authorized Service Provider for the major manufacturers; able to fully manage, service and supply the existing printer fleet.
  • Vast Service Network – look for breadth and depth, with the ability to proactively support your specific requirements and devices in your area, whether local or statewide.
  • Technical Savvy – ability to leverage progressive solutions and tools to automate the administrative aspects, such as proactive supplies and service.
  • Customized Procurement Models – creative pricing models, including utility-based or transactional billing, to meet current and future operational requirements.
  • Stability – choose a partner with the financial stability and resources to support a long-term relationship.

Implementing MPS

There are four primary stages of implementation:  Project Definition, Assessment, Optimization and Steady State.

  • Project Definition – defining the project scope and outlining a company's document infrastructure, production and management goals and objectives are the primary steps to initiating a comprehensive document analysis.
  • Assessment Process is the discovery phase, where the fleet is evaluated to determine device make-up and usage, as well as general workflow dynamics.

Key customer and partner stakeholders review and refine the formal recommendations for document infrastructure optimization, which usually include:

  1. Cost containment opportunities.
  2. Device reallocation.
  3. Digital document workflow reengineering, incorporating emerging document management software technologies to reduce network bottlenecks, improve employee productivity and lower printing volumes and related expenditures.
  4. Workflow Solutions to scan, process, manage, and distribute electronic documents.
  5. Security programs, tools and technologies used to safeguard data;
  6. Ecological solutions to promote green initiatives.
  7. Time-phased and change management strategies for long-term improvement.

This part of the process provides concrete, actionable strategies, creating the framework for an optimized document environment that leverages the proper balance of document technology, solutions and workflows.

  • Optimization is where the magic takes place. Once the optimization plan is approved, the implementation takes place. The actual timing varies upon on the size and scope of the engagement. A traditional approach may  comprise of:
  • Reduce inefficient devices.
  • Retain efficient legacy devices.
  • Deploy new multifunction products.
  • Deploy software solutions to enhance workflow.
  • Implement security measures to protect confidential information.
  • Implement processes to centrally manage supplies, including automated toner replenishment services.
  • Implement processes to centrally manage preventive and break/fix service.
  • Alert end users about new MPS program, related processes and contact information.
  • Steady State is the control phase.  Initiatives are introduced to provide long-term success and profitability.  This may include integrating benchmarking, reporting, account reviews, fleet management and user behavior modification software.  Performance is tightly measured against service level agreements. Most importantly, this aspect creates the necessary controls and measurements to ensure accountability and adherence to the new document processes – the ultimate determinant of program success.


With so many potential gains, it’s easy for people to jump right in and sign up for MPS. But before moving forward, consider a word of caution. Implementing MPS has its challenges, which can be managed with careful planning such as:

  • Clear Accountability – a project champion can help set goals and drive the program, ensuring its success;
  • Executive Sponsorship –leaders need to visibly embrace and support the program, requiring staff adherence to the program;
  • Program Acceptance and Compliance – in some instances, although they have created a solid MPS framework with preferred partners and contractual pricing, government agencies and municipalities have complete autonomy in the procurement of MFPs and printers, supplies and service;
  • Quality Information – accurate understanding of fleet data and volumes is important in establishing the program criteria;
  • Non-Networked Devices limit program capabilities. Networked devices enable proactive monitoring to automate supply replenishment, error alerts and meter reads, so aim to connect print devices to the network to maximize device utilization and program benefits.


MPS can produce significant benefits for any government entity, when planned and deployed appropriately. The key is to customize an approach that truly aligns with the entity’s specific dynamics and culture, considering strategic goals, financial objectives, operational processes, departmental priorities, regulatory requirements, existing infrastructure, and other business aspects that impact the document management strategy. Overly ambitious targets and unreasonable staff-to-device ratios can doom the initiative, while sound planning can set a strong foundation.

The goal is simple, but true success lies in the execution.  By selecting a reliable partner, leveraging best practices, following a methodical approach, and deploying the appropriate solutions, processes and tools, any organization – large or small, public or private – can create and execute an MPS strategy that is visionary, yet realistic, producing both significant and sustainable benefits.

Kathy De Santi is the MPS program manager for Toshiba America Business Solutions. She is responsible for program development & management, including strategic relationship management, dealer recruitment, program-related training/education, and enhancing operational efficiencies. Prior to Toshiba, she spent much of her career in IT outsourcing, where she held roles in marketing, global business development and program management.

About the Author: Kathy De Santi

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