BEST Practices in Managed Print Services12 Jan, 2007 By: Darlene Sheldon imageSource
BEST Practices in Managed Print Services
Corporations recognize that they need to address out of control costs
associated with network printing. How do they get there? Many are looking to
solve it by outsourcing their managed print services.
What’s hot? Gartner surveys show that organizations are currently
researching the costs of office print, copy, and fax functions, and assessing a
managed print services approach to meet its office output needs. In addition,
most of these organizations believe they are playing catch-up to react
appropriately to trends in office printing, such as the role of color printers,
multifunctional products (MFPs), and managed print services.
Only 10 percent of the $1.8 billion in document management services is billed
by dealers, whereas 90 percent is provided by other document and print service
providers who have a long history with the corporation. These service providers
have primarily focussed on offering consulting services for enterprise content
management or production printing. These consulting areas include: document
strategy development, content delivery, document workflow, archiving, document
delivery, forms, managed services, production printing, and transactional
With the changing times, the advantage these document and print service
providers have is the relationships they have developed with corporate
management and key stakeholders. They often understand the business drivers of
the corporations and can translate them into lucrative consulting contracts in
document management and document strategy implementation. But they do not have
the in depth knowledge of devices and printers that the dealers have!
The Dealer Advantage
So how can the dealer increase revenue through the managed print services
trend? The dealer’s service and supply organization is a key advantage. Every
day,dealers are involved in break/fix delivery, device maintenance, and supply
delivery, and have developed relationships through these support channels.
Print service providers focus on content and information. The dealer has the
expertise of understanding the output devices, and particularly with their
support network, should be able to transition into the hot area of managing
print services. The challenge is to move from supplying and supporting
commodities and presenting in terms of ppm, meters and duty to understanding how
the printer fleet can address a corporation’s printing needs. To make this
transition, the dealer requires a tool to gather knowledge of the client’s fleet
and identify where printing dollars can be saved. A printer fleet management
tool offers a competitive advantage by providing a detailed composite of the
enterprise printer fleet with inventory sorting; print and cost history trends;
usage comparisons; and problem history.
Best Practices for Managed Print Services:
1. Develop a Print Strategy
For any corporation who wishes to reduce costs by managing their printing, a
document and print strategy is essential. Best practices conclude that fleet
assessment and strategy development should be hardware vendor independent.
2. Establish a Baseline
The baseline assessment is used as the kick-off point for developing the
corporate print strategy. During baseline assessment, best practices
incorporate all costs into the picture, not just consumables - the largest cost
being human resources. If the dealer already has a printer fleet management
tool which contains a database of device inventory, printing activity and
printer events, his revenue can be increased by offering assessment services.
In addition, the dealer can prepare a competitive managed print services
proposal based upon the inventory and understanding of his client’s printing
history. A greater knowledge of the printer fleet than both his client and
competitor is a significant strategic advantage.
3. Treat Printers as an Asset
Best practices recognize that the printer fleet is a corporate asset, and
thus, should be managed like any other IT asset. Printer asset management looks
at a device through its lifecycle and the fleet from the enterprise
perspective. A printer life encompasses purchase decisions, printer financials,
maintenance, supplies management, and retirement. The enterprise perspective
looks at the fleet inventory using corporate metrics, comparisons and trends,
making decisions from a global, rather than, unit or commodity basis.
The direction of managed print services is to reduce – to reduce total costs,
to reduce the amount of printing, to reduce the number of devices, to reduce the
number of manufacturers and models, and to reduce the number of vendors. If you
are the only vendor providing a regular report card on the client’s printing,
you have an advantage to increase the number of devices you manage and to offer
additional consulting services in other areas of managed print services. If
not, you may be the vendor that is eliminated.
Managing print services in a cost effective manner requires automation of
many of the processes involved. Automatic device discovery and meter reads are
only the beginning. The printer fleet management tool should also automate:
service requests in the event of a device alert or toner request, maintenance
reminders, device retirement and replacement, scheduled reports, and so forth.
6. Manage desktop printers
Desktop printers are often the most expensive component of the printing fleet
on a per page basis. Not only do they tend to be underutilized, but supplies
are expensive and the printers are complex to track and manage. If the print
strategy permits desktop printers, best practices say the printers should be
restricted to a limited number of hardware model choices and should be network
attached, not USB attached, to make them visible to the network.
7. Sustain Savings Through Continuous Improvement
Once the fleet strategy is deployed, the corporation optimizes managed print
services through pro-active monitoring of printer assets, contracts, supplies
management, and service level agreements. If the dealer develops a device
retirement strategy for his customer with an understanding of the corporation’s
business needs, he may ensure that he retains or adds new devices under
contract. As with every aspect of managed print services, a tool which collects
and stores this device and printing data is necessary to support the intelligent
recommendations the dealer provides to his customer.
8. Monitor, Measure, Manage
The key to sustaining the savings reaped from managing printing is measure,
adjust, measure adjust on a continuous and ongoing basis. This is where dealers
can retain and increase business by pro-actively demonstrating their value with
regular report cards on their customer’s printing – including trend graphs
showing pages, costs, and problems. This report card should provide areas where
improvements can be made such as moving, swapping, or replacing – always with an
eye to managing more of the corporation’s devices in combination with reducing
total printing costs.
If you know more than your customer about his printer fleet and can provide
him cost savings recommendations, you are on your way towards reaping additional
revenue through increasing your managed print services.