As you may have read in another article on the blog, managed print services can be a wonderful thing for your organization. Whether your organization is big, small or somewhere in between, it’s sure to benefit from the ease and thoroughness of a managed print services agreement. While managed print services agreements do offer safety and the ability for customers to sit back and relax, there are some best practices for customers.
From start to finish, customers can get a lot out of just a little investment in their managed print services agreement (also called managed printer services agreement) by doing some due diligence at various steps of the process. We here at ClearView Business Solutions are a bit of a managed print services expert, having worked with a huge number of such agreements in our time. So we’ve learned what works best and what doesn’t work for customers in this kind of agreement.
That being said, this article will teach you steps you should take throughout your managed print services agreement.
What should I do at the beginning of my managed print services agreement?
Here are some best practices for the beginning of your managed print services agreement:
Perhaps what’s most important in the early stages is strategy. Without a comprehensive strategy for your organization’s printing services, this aspect of your organization will be rudderless.
Here are some key components of any printing services strategy:
Like with many things in life, objectivity is important here. That means being objective with respect to choosing the manufacturer of the hardware. The manufacturer isn’t nearly as important as the best-fitting technology regardless of the manufacturer.
- A written plan
A supplier can provide a proposal for printing services, but that’s not enough. You don’t want to rely solely and exclusively on a hardware vendor, because vendors can be inclined to sell certain brands. Independently of what the vendor suggests, your organization should do some objective research about which infrastructure tools and policies are best for the organization. Take another look at this strategy every three to five years.
- Get a baseline
What’s important here is a service baseline. This is when you consider how easily and efficiently your organization’s people can make the best of the print services. Consider how these devices work for your organization over 30 to 60 days.
What are some best practices after the agreement has already started?
Once your organization’s managed print services agreement is up and running, you have a whole new set of best practices to adhere to. These start with:
- Integrating MPS into IT
Your organization should treat its document-solutions devices like an information technology (IT) asset. It’s not “just a printer,” or “just a copier”; it’s an IT asset, meaning that you have a whole host of decisions to make about it while you have it.
Always be aware of upgrades, maintenance, supply management, etc. to know when to retire a device and how to find a high-value, well-priced replacement.
- Optimization and automation
Be sure to choose the optimal number of hardware manufacturers, vendors and models of devices. Seek to strike a balance between efficiency and availability of your devices. At all times, the goal is to maximize productivity and minimize the cost of toner, supplies, device failure, etc.
While you might be inclined to minimize the number and initial costs of your devices, you could pay for such an inclination later. Fewer, cheaper devices can lead to more, costly interventions that end up making you spend more money and be less productive in the long run than if you had simply paid for a more expensive printer service agreement initially.
- Management and supplies
Then you have to manage your suppliers. Focus on the organizations that provide your supplies, hardware, consulting, service, etc. Make sure that you and your vendor are on the same page as much as possible. After you’ve already secured a service agreement, check that your servicing vendor is actually following through on what it said it’d do in the agreement. Be mindful of certain metrics like:
What percentage of the time are your devices up and running? What level of service are you receiving?
- Other service metrics
Other service metrics include how often your system goes down and the average repair time. It goes without saying that your vendor should also bill you fairly and correctly.
How do I make the best of the rest of my managed print services agreement?
Like with many things in life, getting the best out of this (your managed print services agreement) takes continuous effort. Keep these final things in mind both throughout the agreement and as it winds down:
- Actual reporting
Treat your managed print services agreement just like how you’d treat other aspects of your business. Ensure that it’s up to snuff by doing regular reviews of its performance. You don’t want to lose money on your MPS. You can, for example, check that your devices aren’t exceeding your quotas of annual interventions and failures. Consider these practices:
- Monthly reports
When you’re not doing formal reviews, you should prepare monthly reports about any issues with your MPS.
- Formal reviews
Consider formally reviewing your MPS every six months to see how your systems have (or have not) met your expectations.
Benchmarking: know what that means? According to Lexico’s Dictionary & Thesaurus, to “benchmark” is to “evaluate or check (something) by comparison with a standard.” Every two to three years, see how your MPS is (or is not) meeting metrics.
Should I get a managed print services agreement?
Now that you know all about managed print services agreements, you can decide if it’s best for your organization. As you’ll learn in another article, if you’re not going to pay someone else to handle your managed print services, then you’ll have to handle them yourself. The cost of self-managed print services can add up.