Managed Print Services 2.0

Mike Barker, VP of Information Technology, Mimeo
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Mike Barker, VP of Information Technology, Mimeo

There is a huge gap in Managed Print Services (MPS) meeting the needs of enterprises today. Managed Print Service 1.0 was about addressing the entire picture of print. As enterprise needs shifted, 1.0 suddenly began neglecting more and more of this whole picture vision. MPS 2.0 is here.

What exactly are print management services? I took a look at some of the largest print management services companies. Here’s how they explain it:

According to HP, Managed Print Services “optimize, manage, and improve printing and digital workflows.” Xerox states that implementing such a program can “improve your document processes and accelerate workflow, making your business more profitable and efficient.” And finally, Canon explains that “organizations need to ensure that processes such as printing, copying, scanning, and faxing are helping their professionals readily access the information they need when they need it. These are the reasons why Canon Business Process Services offers managed print services.” Eloquent, maybe, in a marketing sense, but how much value—cost savings, efficiency, etc.—do these services really bring to the table in 2015?

Originally, as the use of photocopiers and printers began to be widely used across enterprise businesses, MPS were created with the purpose to essentially sell/lease equipment directly to the enterprises that had a need for print. Companies adopting MPS were incentivized to sign multi-year contracts. For example, a Fortune 500 may sign a 5 year contract with MPS company XYZ. As a result, XYZ company would promise them a 5 percent savings in document related costs across their organization.

Stepping back, this is a huge mess that has been created and the same providers are offering small incremental savings each year as a cleanup. Think of it this way - you go into the store and you have two options for a roll of paper towels—the generic store brand and the national name brand. The national name brand arms you with a 50 cent coupon. The problem, however, discount included, it is still more expensive than the comparable store brand. This creates the illusion of savings.

"By taking a new approach to MPS, or ‘MPS 2.0’, enterprises are decreasing “print windows” to lower their costs and, perhaps more importantly, saving time"

The problem is, the way people print, what they print, and why it is evolving at an increasingly fast rate. As the MPS model fails to adapt to these changes, they can’t provide all the proper solutions to gaps that exist. MPS have value in being very fluid and dynamic, however, this has been overshadowed during the changing business environment; enterprises can no longer address this on their own. The bad now outweighs the good. Companies are trying to cost effectively manage their documents while MPS continue becoming antiquated in meeting these needs.

One way to think about it is that organizations are printing less and they are ‘printing smarter’. Leading enterprises are no longer lenient to the excessive costs of document obsolescence. Eliminating waste is a key objective wherever possible. Because of this, shorter print runs are beginning to replace more traditional, offset runs for many companies. To further eliminate waste, rogue spending, once widespread is decreasingly common.

Production MPS often follow a “print window”, meaning that the windows of time where the most amount of print needs to be produced is identified. From this project, the total capabilities and capacities are defined, including the type of equipment needed for this project, and the maximum capacity that equipment has. The real gap in this model is that companies increasingly have projects that are outliers in this sense.

One project that causes the MPS to be 30 percent greater than needed for the remaining eight months of the year does not justify the costs of leasing/owning the equipment as well as other costs, such as the square footage needed for the equipment to reside internally. In urban locations this square footage cost may even exceed the actual cost of the MPS. Yes, these still exist, even in Midtown Manhattan. Enterprises are beginning to reassess the actual value of this practice and are adjusting accordingly.

The general nature of the workforce is also shifting. A growing number of employees that work remotely also have print needs, causing a greater need for distribution capabilities. The effect MPS have on this trend is that they increase rogue spending outside of the MPS view; workers are forced to visit the closest brick and mortar location, resulting in higher document costs and inconsistencies in quality.

By taking a new approach to MPS, or ‘MPS 2.0’ as I like to call it, enterprises are decreasing these “print windows” to lower their costs. In order to do so, they are supplementing their larger projects, which once defined the inflated print window with print on demand platforms. These platforms also handle the logistics of sending print to remote workers. This is the reality of what the modern enterprise customer needs. As the print industry begins to take note, this is also the reality of Managed Print Services 2.0.

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