Printing in business organisations is a mostly taken-for-granted activity. Denied the attention it truly deserves, printing service setups are often ad hoc and chaotic. In the absence of a good maintenance system, IT staff too end up spending large chunks of their time resolving printing related issues or unexpected breakdowns. Wastage resulting from misuse of equipment or frequent breakdowns drives up costs further. Despite this, organisations hesitate to upgrade systems because of the huge capital investment required, preferring instead to work with low efficiency existing equipment to limit expenses. Unfortunately, organisations fail to realise the true cost and implications of such inefficient and chaotic printing setups.
This paper discusses the strategy of managed print services, which attempts to resolve these issues through a usage based model targeted at improving performance and lowering costs.
Introduction - Are we a Paperless Economy yet?
Over four decades ago experts sanguinely predicted that in the future we would only have ‘paperless offices’. Since then we have come to realise that a complete elimination is not realistic; however, it is possible to minimise paper use through better document management.
While it is commonly thought that companies spend between 1-3% of their annual revenue on office printing, this estimate may not be representative of the real figures. Very often expenses related to human resources, hardware and supplies are underestimated while computing printing costs. Additionally, existence of multiple vendors also prevents actual print related costs emerging clearly as these are spread across various budgets.
Analysts state that if computed correctly, the cost of purchasing, operating and maintaining of print devices alone accounts for 3% to 6% of total revenues of any organisation. There is therefore an overarching need for organisations to optimise their printing services to reduce costs and improve efficiency while also reducing their carbon footprint
Managed Print Services (MPS) – An Idea whose Time has come
MPS is a strategic approach to addressing printing requirements within an enterprise by studying the printing setup and implementing procedures and processes that eliminate wastages, optimise operations, and improve efficiency while also providing a clearer picture of the overall print related efforts.
A well managed print service promises to deliver reduction in Total Cost of Operations (TCO) through an approach based on streamlined workflow, optimisation of fleet, and incorporation of cost saving methods. An environment friendly, vendor agnostic MPS can also enhance customer satisfaction through seamless operations.
Printing in Offices: Environmental Impact
Despite this being the age of electronic communication, workflows in an organisation continue to leave paper trails that need to be minimised. According to one report, an average office worker in the US uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year translating to four million tons of copy paper annually. Paper recycling too is not an adequate solution, because the huge amounts of sludge produced during de-inking add pollutants to the environment.
Managed Print Services (MPS) – An Important Step
In the normal course of business, printing operations are often taken for granted. However, it is only when there is a disruption that organisations wake up to the importance of an efficient printing management service. A sudden breakdown, an unexpected running out of resources to carry out a printing task, or absence of staff to deal with a malfunctioning system at a crucial junction, drives organisations to consider alternate options to manage their printing services.
An efficient way to address these issues is through MPS. This outsourced service promises to actively manage and optimise the printing function in an organisation. Creation of clear workflows ensures smooth and uninterrupted operations, resulting in standard predictable output.
MPS today offers much more than just handling hardcopy devices such as copiers, printers and fax machines. It offers instead technologically smart systems that can scan and extract data from images, classify documents and share content across electronic management systems. Productivity improvement can be achieved by successfully transitioning processes into a digitised workflow, resulting in lower consumption of paper and reduced operating and infrastructure costs.
Reduced consumption of paper helps organisations meet their targets of reduced carbon footprints through a reduction in material usage and energy consumption.
According to a Global Managed Print Services market report, the MPS market is set to grow at a CAGR of 10.75% between 2012 and 2016. Once mainly limited to the most developed countries and large companies, MPS is now growing faster in developing regions, such as Asia/Pacific at 19%, and among smaller companies too.
MPS – How it Works
An organisation’s transition to Managed Print Services is a methodical process. It involves a number of steps progressing towards the solution.
Fig. 1. Steps in Transitioning to MPS
In this first stage, the MPS provider assesses existing infrastructure capabilities to find out exact requirements. The present infrastructure is mapped to evaluate whether its competencies meet current and future output requirements. Results of the assessment phase include comprehensive asset list, its present conditions, age, usage, etc. This helps the MPS provider look for the possible optimisation, IMAC (Install, Move, Add, Cancel).
The MPS expert examines the existing arrangements and looks at options that will optimise the current set up. Extra or unnecessary devices will be eliminated to streamline the printing process and a customised MPS is designed to arrive at an optimised process flow.
Process improvements such as digitisation of paper processes for routings and approvals are incorporated. These contribute to a reduction in paper use.
The next step involves the implementation of the proposed MPS workflow that will help manage the transition effectively. This is done to ensure greater clarity in the flow resulting in shorter uptake time
while handling changes. This involves setting up the service desk, supply of devices, installation and configuration of MPS tools, deployment of manpower, planning and stocking of supplies, etc.
An efficient system is capable of anticipating possible problems and resolving the issues before they have an adverse impact on the business. MPS functions include preventative maintenance and ensuring constant supply of consumables, which is crucial to ensure uninterrupted business activity. A pro-active monitoring tool helps in achieving the goal.
Providing network management and IT support to the business is an integral part of the MPS. It is common for every upgrade of hardware or purchase of new equipment to cause some amount of disruption to processes, as staff and employees learn to use them. With an MPS these disruptions do not occur as the outsourced staff is trained to deal with changes, ensuring the smooth flow of business. Sustained support is provided to remote workers as there is a team dedicated to provide them the assistance required.
What can MPS yield to Business
MPS as a solution offers multiple benefits to the enterprise. Prominent amongst these are:
Standardisation of Hardware
Acquisition and additions to the fleet are made keeping in mind their compatibility with existing hardware. Standardisation is ensured by limiting variation in device manufacturers, models and user interfaces.
Significant Reduction of Printer Fleet
An MPS takes into account the needs of the organisation and ensures deployment of an optimised fleet of printers. This helps cut down on unnecessary hardware costs.
An MPS can track user activity and enhance security in an organisation, including enforcement of walk up user authentical before the release of print jobs.
Reduction in Carbon Footprint
Use of paper declines, toner cartridge recycling and a drop in electrical consumption help in reducing the carbon footprint on the environment.
Cost Capturing made Easier
Accounting and allocation of costs becomes more accurate. Costs and charge back can be attributed to precise account head. Quality of data improves as also the analysis output
Freeing up IT Staff
Following the implementation of MPS, the IT staff can be freed up to attend to more critical and core functions of the business rather than focus on managing printing issues.
An immediate improvement in productivity is observed as business downtime declines, which eventually improves overall customer satisfaction.
Choosing the Right Service
Selection of the right MPS depends on the size and requirements of a business. For smaller organisations, an MPS that offers end-to-end services including device, software and printer management and support could be adequate. It should however also offer options that allow redeployment of capital to improve efficiency. Service availability on a fixed payment pattern would deliver cost efficiencies to small businesses. Larger organisations could opt for more comprehensive systems. These would have to be device agnostic so businesses can deploy them across their own output devices. Flexibility to plug into a centralised print managed service would provide a bird’s eye view of the complete service and consumption. Cost efficiencies could be derived from a payment scheme based on number of devices and users.
MPS and its Potential
Print Capabilities - Current State and Opportunity Map
What is required of an efficient MPS, however, goes much beyond providing improved customer experience through increased availability of print facilities. There is additionally an immense potential for enriched features for the enterprise as a whole, and in preparation of its future needs.
Exploiting Synergies of Combining People, Process and Technology
A sustainable and efficient MPS focuses on bringing together people, processes and technology to deliver consistent long term savings and increased productivity while meeting sustainability targets. And these are the features that will drive the need to meet goals like savings, enhanced user experience, and environmental sustainability.
MPS is an outsourced activity that appears poised to take over the industry. As an outsourced service it has the potential to not only support larger organisations, but also small and medium sized enterprises. Though it is an activity which is not given much importance, a disruption of this service has the potential to adversely impact productivity and profitability. As a service, MPS promises improved productivity and profitability to organisations by freeing them from the responsibilities of managing print services to focus on core business activities instead. Thus a good solution using the latest technology can eventually transform printing services into a well-supported and efficiently managed, environment friendly, sustainable process, offering businesses an advantage they cannot afford to ignore.
Adarsh R Talinki, Sr. Practice Manager - EUC; GIS – Wipro Limited
Adarsh is working as a Sr. Practice Manager for Wipro Infotech Ltd., he has been driving practice team on different services pertaining to e-Mobility. He has 15 years of IT experience that comprises six years of experience in Design, Development and Deployment of solutions for different enterprise customers such as service desk, helpdesk, VDI and MPS requirements.