According to IDC, managed print services can reduce the overall cost of office printing by 20 to 30 percent. Part of that saving is a 7 to 14 percent reduction in printer-related help desk calls. There is real benefit from managed print services in administrative cost savings alone depending on the number of printers scattered throughout the organization and the number of supplier relationships.
What is Printer Management?
Although the definition may seem obvious, printer management means different things to different people. Before delving into how managed print services can better serve a company’s needs, let’s define printer management.
Printer management starts with actually purchasing the printer hardware. This requires making a detailed assessment of the company’s printing needs and determining what types of printers each department will need. For example, accounting may be able to use a simple black-and-white laser printer while marketing may have a compelling need for a high-quality color printer to create ads and sales collateral. The IT department has to inventory the organization’s printing needs and then determine how to integrate the right types and number of printers into the enterprise.
Then there is installation and maintenance. Networked printers need to be installed at convenient locations throughout the company. That means stringing network cable and configuring each printer. It also means maintaining each printer and being prepared to troubleshoot problems as they arise.
And there are print supplies and materials. Granted, most companies have individual departments order their own consumable supplies such as paper and toner, but the IT department still has to make sure they order the right materials and that necessary parts are on hand for routine repairs. If there are different printers from different vendors scattered throughout the organization that can means tracking a lot of different printer-specific supplies.
What to Expect from a Managed Print Services Provider
Outsourcing the company’s printing addresses all of these issues. By consolidating printing using a managed print service, the IT department is able to hand off all of its printing headaches to one accountable supplier, retaining total control over their printing needs without the administrative overhead.
Before engaging a managed print services provider, here is what to expect:
- The service provider should provide a complete audit of all printing needs for the company. That means determining the specific printer use for each department, including special printing needs, paper consumption, etc.
- Managed print services will help the company understand paper flow and consumption by revealing the kinds of orders placed by each department and where there is waste.
- The print service also will work with current suppliers or bring in new suppliers to create a more streamlined and sustainable approach to office printing.
- When IT brings in a managed print services provider, the company should get a detailed proposal outlining how services will be provided with anticipated costs and savings. Some managed print services charge a flat rate for their services while others charge by the page. Either way, the audit should demonstrate real savings and show an easy-to-calculate ROI.
This process is usually eye-opening since most organizations don’t know what they spend in printing. According to Gartner, most companies spend between 1 and 3 percent of total annual revenues printing office paperwork, but those costs are hidden in departmental budgets.
The Benefits of Managed Print Services
Once the company engages a managed print services provider the benefits become immediately evident.
The first step will be right-sizing the office printing. Unnecessary equipment will be eliminated and the print management service will be monitoring printing volumes. The result will be more efficient use of existing office printing equipment and stocking fewer materials such as paper, toner, and ink; rather than stockpiling toner or ink cartridges in specific departments there is now one central repository. It also means that the company can take better advantage of volume discounts.
Right-sizing office printing also results in substantial savings in hardware. In some large organizations, the number of printers can be as high as one printer for every two employees. By creating an accurate count of printers and logging printer use, the print service provider can consolidate printers and eliminate a lot of excess hardware.
Less efficient hardware also can be replaced by high-speed printers or multi-function machines that combine printing, faxing, and scanning. The result is a tremendous savings in paper and printing supplies. Maintenance is also included in a print services contract so service providers will perform routine maintenance and fix any problems as they occur. If there are fewer and more efficient machines there is less maintenance overhead.
Industry estimates are that for every dollar spent on office printing, an additional nine dollars is spent on printing management. By outsourcing with managed print services, printer management costs will plummet, along with the time and effort required to support office printing. Companies get all the benefits of economy of scale while saving valuable IT time, at the same time they gain better insight into printing costs and budgeting.
Managed print services offer a win-win for everyone involved. They save money for organizations, especially for office that rely heavily on office printing such as law firms or real estate office, and they deliver truly measurable ROI. For managed print service providers such as VARs it offers a new profit center that opens doors to new sales opportunities for enterprise customers.
What are the greatest benefits you can see from offering managed print services to your customers? Do you see print management as a logical extension to your reseller business?