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In talking to organizations of all kinds, I’ve practically lost track of how many clients have said “Yep, we’ve got everything covered, now that we have a Managed Print Service agreement with XYZ Company.”

It’s a comforting thought, but after a little discussion we often learn that what they really have is an agreement with XYZ Company that consolidates the old printer fleet, replacing it with a reduced number of new multi-function devices (MFDs) with a much higher user-to-device ratio. What we call in the business: “a good start.”

Clearly this is much more environmentally friendly and sits well with the corporate social responsibility (CSR) people. The MPS contract typically provides a print service desk with consumable replenishment and break/fix support. All of this done for a fixed monthly/quarterly charge and a fixed price per colour or mono page that’s printed. This represents a “utility model” for printing – highly recommended in today’s cost-conscious business environment. The MPS may even include innovations such as Pull Printing (aka secure printing) with the goal of reducing printed waste and increasing security by only delivering confidential documents when the user is present at the new MFD.

So, printing is covered, right?

Some of it clearly is, but a lot of benefits are being left on the table. To be clear, this isn’t an MPS-bashing session; quite the contrary, in fact. MPS can lay the groundwork for a number of significant financial, usability, and environmental benefits and is to be strongly encouraged. My suggestion is to look beyond the obvious and question a little deeper to see how those MPS benefits can be increased and extended even further.

What rocks do you need to look under for these additional benefits? Let me suggest some areas and then over the next few weeks I will discuss each in more detail as each is significant and sometimes complex in its own right. First off, it’s worth asking:

  • Where does all of your print come from? Is it just the Windows desktop or do you also have some centralised or even legacy business applications (such as a core banking, warehousing or SAP ERP)? If so, that’s a promising rock to look under. Start thinking about what percentage of print comes from each of these platforms.
  • Who prints what, where and when? Do you have a true, 360-degree view or just a view of device level activity? Remember the old adage: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
  • Does “Pull” or “secure” printing deliver all the promised benefits? Are you capturing all output in the solution?
  • Is “Pull” or “secure” Printing and a reduction in the printer count all that you can be doing to reduce the waste and the environmental impact of printing? 

Over the coming weeks, I will delve into each of these areas individually (while keeping up with my day job, of course). Whilst an MPS is a good thing, I hope we can share some ideas on how to wring the maximum benefit from that investment. Perhaps then you’ll have printing truly “covered.”

Watch for the second installment: “Under rock one I found that 75% of my print comes from non-Windows sources… what can I do?”

— Steve

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