Do you need a managed print service?


Date: 21 February 2011

The difficult economy and resulting emphasis on cost savings has drawn attention to managed print services (MPS). But do the benefits really outweigh the loss of control your company would experience? John Sollars from explains.

What is a managed print service?

MPS typically refers to outsourcing the performance and maintenance of your company's printers. There are three main aspects:

  1. Control. The MPS provider assumes control of your printing hardware and print activities. They will monitor how you use printers and how well your business printers perform.
  2. Optimisation. In response to the data the MPS provider collects about your company's printing, they'll suggest and implement changes to increase efficiency.
  3. Management. Once your printing processes have been optimised, the MPS will look at efficiency gains in the actual documents going through the printer. This usually means creating procedures for your staff to follow.

Benefits of a managed print service

There are a number of benefits to using MPS:

  • Cost savings. Using MPS can result in lower maintenance costs, better cashflow (because you can accurately forecast your printer usage) and financial savings (in paper and printer supplies).
  • Time savings. If you already estimate your monthly printing costs, the cost per page and lifecycle of your printers, this will take significant effort. With MPS, it's done automatically.
  • Less hassle. If something goes wrong with a printer, you don't have to sort it out yourself. You should get a dedicated contact at your MPS provider whose job is it to resolve issues promptly.
  • Security. As this extreme case demonstrates, monitoring your use of printing supplies can reasure you that no members of staff are 'repurposing' supplies meant for business use.
  • Environmental credentials. Implementing MPS should lead to reduced electricity consumption, reduced ink / toner use and less paper wasted.

Disadvantages of a managed print service

Sersious problems with MPS providers are now relatively rare, as tough competition has helped iron out implementation and performance problems, creating a very reliable system. However, it's still larger companies that will benefit most from MPS  - even though many providers have options for lower quantity users, the benefits low-usage companies will enjoy are limited.

MPS contracts can also lead to complications, so I would encourage you to check your MPS contract with great care. Ridiculous as it sounds, some will even prohibit your employees from changing cartridges in printers. Having to wait for an approved ‘engineer’ to come and replace a toner cartridge will lead to completely unneccesary delays!

Also be wary of single manufacturer agreements. Linking you to one brand of printer for the duration of the contract means there's a chance you will lose out on new functions if your manufacturer is slow to react to market innovations. However, in such a competitive environment most manufacturers are on the ball, so the risk of this occurring is limited.

Does your company employ MPS? Have you heard any good or bad stories? Add your comment here.

John Sollars is MD of

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