Managed Print Services 101: The Complete Guide
Printers are a notorious source of workplace frustration, but they certainly don’t have to be. The market for managed print services is growing quickly as more organizations understand the value this comprehensive service brings and the frustrations and risks it eliminates.
This guide includes everything you need to know about managed print services and what you should look for in a provider.
Let’s get to it!
What Is MPS?
Managed Print Services (MPS) refers to outsourcing the management of your printing devices in order to eliminate unnecessary waste, save time, increase productivity, and save money. In fact, a good MPS provider can save their clients up to 30% on print costs.
Managed print services aren’t the same as what you’ll receive with a print/copier contract from a manufacturer’s local dealership. While a dealer is tied to servicing and recommending a certain brand, an MPS provider will be able to manage some or all of your print devices, regardless of their manufacturer. And while a dealer is incentivized to sell you new equipment, an MPS provider’s goal is to provide excellent service and recommend the devices that will work best for your organization.
What Does MPS Include?
All MPS providers are not the same. Generally speaking, however, MPS providers will include the following services:
- An initial print assessment to identify what printers you have, how they’re being used, and where waste can be reduced
- In-depth conversations about your organization to make sure your print strategy is aligned with your long-term goals
- Ongoing print analytics
- Recommendations for tools and print policies that can help reduce waste
- Recommendations for tools and policies that can improve basic workplace security
- Supply monitoring and automatic ordering
- Help desk support
- Employee training
- Troubleshooting, repairs, and maintenance
Additional Print Security Services You Should Consider
Depending on your organization and its location, additional print security measures may be necessary to meet compliance requirements. While print security services aren’t mandated for every organization in every state, lax print security could provide hackers with an entry point into your critical systems and tools, and allow them to access sensitive data.
Depending on your provider, they might be able to provide any or all of the following security services:
- Access to a dedicated print security team
- Secure passwords at setup that are unique to each client
- Multi-pass data overwrite of HDDs and NVRAM clearing
- A complimentary print security assessment
- A dedicated SOC Type 2 report
- Auxiliary uplift services
At Marco, all of the above are provided to every MPS client at no additional charge.
What Are the Benefits of Managed Print?
A top MPS provider can provide a wide range of benefits for organizations of all sizes and across all sectors.
Minimize Printing Disruptions No Matter the Cause
Your provider will use powerful software to monitor your equipment 24/7. If a component needs to be replaced or a device is about to fail, they’ll dispatch a technician with the parts your machine needs, before it causes a disruption.
In addition to taking care of your printing equipment, an MPS provider should also be able to resolve, for example, network connectivity issues caused by workstation upgrades or IP address changes.
Free Up IT Staff
Today’s IT teams are notoriously understaffed and overwhelmed, and research indicates that as much as 50% of help desk calls are printer-related. By outsourcing the management of your printing fleet, your IT team can focus on more critical projects and issues.
Well-maintained equipment performs better and can often last longer. Unfortunately, printers aren’t often given the same care and attention as laptops and servers. An MPS provider will make sure that your devices are maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions to get the most ROI.
Automate Supply Ordering
With the help of advanced print software, your provider will know when any of your devices are running low on ink or toner and will send the correct supplies automatically, at no additional charge. With toner pirate scams remaining so problematic, automated supply ordering may do more than just save your staff time. It may also help your company avoid fraudsters.
Get World-Class Expertise On Demand
If you haven’t worked with an MPS provider before, it’s easy to assume that a manufacturer will be better at maintaining their equipment. However, that’s typically not the case. An MPS provider’s technicians are often certified by the manufacturer themselves, and dealerships can earn special recognition for how well they can maintain and service their equipment.
For example, at Marco, our strategic partnerships include Canon, Kyocera, Konica Minolta, Sharp, HP, Lexmark, and more.
Reduce Business Risk
With managed print services, you transform a significant business liability — printer failure — into a manageable monthly expense. If printing is critical for your business, you can outsource all of that risk along with the maintenance, repairs, and management responsibilities.
Save on Print Costs
Unmanaged printing expenses can amount to 1–3% of an organization’s total revenue. Even though ink and toner have never been exactly cheap, it can be difficult to fathom why print costs are that high. But there are many components that determine your total print costs, including equipment, energy use, staff hours, supplies, wasteful printing habits, maintenance, and repairs.
An MPS provider typically saves clients money in a number of ways, including updating print policies, installing print tracking software, eliminating unnecessary print devices, detecting and eliminating wasteful printing habits, and more.
What Businesses Are Ideal Candidates for MPS?
Not that small to midsize businesses don’t frequently benefit from managed print services, but complex print environments in multiple locations (think universities, regional health centers, government institutions, and more) are often the ideal case for outsourcing.
Most healthcare organizations were already struggling to keep up with rapidly evolving treatments and processes before the pandemic. They simply haven’t had the time or the resources to pay attention to their print environment. After all, patient care has to come first.
Unfortunately, when a print environment causes a disruption to normal operations, it’s often patient care that suffers most.
A Cautionary Tale
We once worked with a hospital that refused to upgrade its print security. We repeatedly recommended the upgrades, and we weren’t the only third-party to bring the problem to their attention. The hospital routinely failed third-party security audits. However, because time and resources were tight, they wanted to reserve both for improving patient outcomes.
One day, they fell victim to a ransomware attack and were forced to reroute ambulances to other hospitals — sometimes quite a distance away — for days.
Ignoring print security with the intent of providing better patient care can unfortunately have the opposite effect.
Advice for Healthcare Organizations
Internal IT teams who work in healthcare settings are notoriously overwhelmed. They have enough on their plate without having to worry about print management or print security issues. An excellent MPS provider can take a big load off of their plate while helping a healthcare organization save money, maintain compliance with HIPAA, and much more.
If you already have a provider, or you’re considering outsourcing your fleet, this is what we consider to be checking all the boxes for MPS providers that work with healthcare organizations.
Does Your Provider Check All the Boxes?
|You know that even if something bad were to happen, your job wouldn’t be at risk for choosing them||✔️|
|They know how to provide customized, simplified billing||✔️|
|They’ve updated their software and no longer need to do regular meter readings||✔️|
|Their ticket workflows are automated, and you can manage service requests through their online portal||✔️|
|You often don’t think about them at all, because everything just works||✔️|
|They also have IT expertise and take a holistic approach to print management; if a print issue is caused by a connectivity problem, for example, they can still help you fix it quickly||✔️|
|They are looking out for you in the long term and initiating conversations with you around cybersecurity||✔️|
|Their dedicated print security team will help you patch vulnerabilities in your fleet and securely decommission your devices when they reach their end of life||✔️|
|They’re knowledgeable about other ways to improve document accessibility and security, including enterprise content management solutions||✔️|
|They have a proven track record of working well with clients just like you and already understand your pain points||✔️|
|They won’t have to instantly scale up to properly serve you. They already have the size and expertise necessary to provide you with best-in-class service||✔️|
|They don’t just talk about their initial response times. They can also attest to how often they can fix issues remotely or on the very first visit||✔️|
|They’re manufacturer agnostic and can manage all of your printing equipment effectively||✔️|
|Their business is solid, and you know they will be with you for the long haul||✔️|
|They have certified experts and a large inventory of components and parts available for any and all emergencies||✔️|
|They keep tabs on when your devices reach their end of support||✔️|
|They have achieved a SOC Type 2 report specifically for their managed print services offering||✔️|
|They have close relationships with top manufacturers and can provide highly competitive pricing on equipment, including industrial printers||✔️|
|They participate in Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) contracts so you can leverage contract pricing that has been previously competitively bid||✔️|
Interested in learning more about how we are able to help healthcare systems thrive? Read our case study below.
Read Granite Falls Health Case Study
In many ways, college kids are the same as they’ve always been. But their priorities are very different than they were 20 years ago, and they factor heavily into their choice of school.
- According to a recent survey, 45% of college students considered environmental sustainability when they were deciding on a school
- 85% said it was somewhat important for their campus to focus on sustainability
The MPS Competitive Advantage
Colleges and universities across the country are throwing millions of dollars into marketing efforts to attract top students, but may get more ROI from upgrading their MPS provider.
How? Because modern MPS software can collect reliable data on who’s printing what, and how much, some MPS providers have taken the additional step to partner with PrintReleaf — an organization that effectively neutralizes an organization’s paper footprint by planting new trees to offset consumption in a certified global reforestation project.
Is your provider a partner? Search for their name here. (Yes, you’ll also find ours.)
Working with a national print provider may offer additional benefits, such as internship and employment opportunities for students. We try to find ways to offer our clients more than the normal vendor relationship, and we’re always on the lookout for new talent. In fact, our former CEO and current chairman, Jeff Gau, was originally recruited for our sales team right out of college.
If you’re curious about what a Marco partnership can do for your college or university, the following case study outlines how our experts helped Minnesota State University reduce its print waste.
Are Managed Print Services Worth It?
While more businesses are likely to save more money with a provider, there are many ways you can reduce print expenses without outsourcing, like setting more efficient defaults (double-sided, black-and-white printing with slimmer fonts).
However, there are a few tell-tale signs that using an MPS provider would be worth it for your organization.
Signs You Need Managed Print Services
- Your print environment is frequently a source of frustration
- Your printers aren’t receiving routine maintenance as outlined by their manufacturer
- Print costs seem impossible to track
- Your staff sometimes order the wrong supplies
- You notice that many documents are left unclaimed in the paper tray or lining the recycling box the same day they were printed
- Your printers aren’t performing reliably
- You’d rather have a planned monthly expense instead of worrying about unpleasant surprises and added productivity risks
- Your IT department is overwhelmed
When done well, managed print services tend to make everybody happy. IT departments are happy because their jobs are less stressful (and security may also get a big boost), office staff are happy to have fewer disruptions, and management is happy because they’re saving a great deal of money that helps offset the cost of the service.
If you’re curious about working with an MPS provider, you might see if they provide a complimentary print assessment. You’ll get a chance to see the kind of cost-saving measures their experts recommend and why. Depending on your provider and their skill set, they may also help you uncover hidden security risks in your fleet.
At Marco, we find that offering a free print assessment helps clients understand exactly what they will be getting from a provider. After all, you can’t understand the savings you might expect unless you know what your costs really are, and you can’t understand the security measures you may need unless you understand what and where your risks currently are.
To get an estimate of the scale of your print costs, try out our free online print cost calculator.
Managed Print Providers - Green Flags
Whenever you work with anyone who has access to your facilities, your systems, or your tools, you should do vendor due diligence to make sure they don’t pose an additional risk to your business.
If your security needs are met, here are some additional signs that you’re dealing with an excellent MPS provider:
- They have a SOC Type 2 report that shows they consistently follow best practices, and they’re happy to show it to you
- They will happily tell you who their current and past clients are, so you can contact them
- They have strategic partnerships with manufacturers to help you save money on equipment
- The software they use is compatible with all of your printing equipment
- They get to know your business and its printing needs before they start making recommendations
- Their guaranteed response times and help desk availability are compatible with your needs
- If print security isn’t included in their standard offerings, it’s at least part of the conversation
- Their business has been providing managed print services for a number of years, and their technicians are highly experienced — preferably certified by the manufacturer of your equipment
- They have a healthy supply of parts on hand
- They take pride in providing excellent customer service
- They check in with you from time to time to make sure you’re happy and ask if there’s room for improvement
- It’s easy to understand exactly what you’ll be getting, what it will cost, and who is responsible for what
There are additional considerations you may want to keep in mind if you’ve got more than one trustworthy provider that’s vying for your business. But above all, an excellent MPS provider should see themselves as a strategic business partner, and they should always have your best interests in mind.
Managed Print Providers - Red Flags
If you notice any of these warning signs, you may want to consider a different provider:
- They don’t meet your vendor due diligence requirements, and are unwilling or unable to take steps to address your concerns
- They won’t discuss their client list with you, or will only provide one or two cherry-picked clients for references
- When and if your provider fails to meet a guaranteed response time or another promise, it’s unclear what the remedy will be, or that there will be a remedy
- The contract doesn’t let you terminate early, even if the provider hasn’t met their requirements
- Their contract is written in such a way that it puts a tremendous burden on your business, while helping them avoid responsibility for catastrophes
- Their contract is lacking important details about who is responsible for what, what you can expect, and when you should expect it
- Important services and items, like repairs or replacement parts, cost extra
- Their service level agreement doesn’t include any mention of print security, and they don’t bring it up in any conversations with you
Additional Vendor Management Tips
If you’re trying to compare multiple MPS providers (which you should before signing a contract with anyone), their services should be spelled out in detail in their Service Level Agreement (SLA).
When you read it over, pay special attention to guaranteed response times, escalation procedures, and who’s responsible for what. It may also be worth having a more in-depth conversation with a potential provider before signing anything. SLAs are just like any other contract in that they’re often negotiable.
Why Consider Marco for Managed Print Solutions?
For starters, we’ve been in business since 1973. What started as a small office supply shop has grown to include 650 certified systems engineers and technical representatives, all based in the US. One of the reasons our client list continues to grow is our Gold Standard Culture. Client satisfaction and continuous improvement are central to everything we do, and we’re constantly surveying our clients to see how we can improve every aspect of our offerings.
Many companies will talk about their excellent customer service and how they go above and beyond, but here’s what that translates into for our MPS clients:
You won’t have to wonder if we’re following best practices. An independent auditor has verified that we consistently live up to our promises. We’ve attained a SOC Type 2 report, and we’re happy to show it to you.
Managed Print Software
Not all MPS providers use the same print management software. Ours is manufacturer-agnostic, so regardless of the printing equipment you use, we can automate supply ordering, monitor your equipment, and maintain it effectively.
We provide print security services at no additional charge to our MPS clients, including access to our dedicated print security team, unique passwords at setup, secure decommissioning, a complimentary print security assessment, and auxiliary uplift services.
We know we don’t have to provide these as part of our regular offering. But regardless of what state and federal laws or regulatory agencies dictate, we believe your data and your clients’ data deserve to be protected. Furthermore, we believe it’s the right thing to do for our clients.
Most good MPS providers will help you save money. But because we have strategic partnerships with top manufacturers, we can also offer our clients better deals on equipment than they’re likely to find anywhere else.
Managed print services is a complex topic, but if you’re researching this topic, chances are you’re already an expert in what you do. There’s no need to become an expert in what we do. Feel free to bookmark this guide for easy access.