Making print count

Managed print services may seem like a luxury only accessible to mutlinationals, but more and more SMEs are finding value – and substantial cost savings – in these services.

What are print managed services?

The term ‘managed print services’ covers a diverse range of functions and processes common within most business environments.

From centralising desktop printers, scanners and other electronic devices, to streamlining office tasks such as invoicing, through to the automation of toner deliveries and maintenance, these managed services are designed to minimise both the costs and the time involved in day-to-day tasks.

Fundamentally, the aim of a managed print service is to keep business owners and their employers where they should be – facing customers and fulfilling orders.

Benton Johnson, the product marketing manager for optimised print services at Konica Minolta, says the cost-saving potential is often lost on small business owners.

“What we see, especially in the SME space, is that a lot of businesses don’t understand the true cost of their printing environment as it stands today,” Benton tells My Business.

“I see managed print services as being the active management and optimisation of a client’s printing environment, both in relation to the printing equipment, but also looking further at documents, information and processes.

“What we’re seeing in the market, especially in Australia, is [that] managed print services [are] moving from a device focus to a user-based focus; so not just looking at the printing equipment, but also looking at the people who are using that equipment and how they’re using it,” he says.

Why use a print managed service?

For those who have seen the movie Office Space, there is no point asking ‘Why?’ when it comes to having someone else maintain the office printer.

A garbage bin overflows with yellow crumpled paperSpending time and energy wrangling a rogue printer, being caught off guard with low ink reserves, or using unnecessary amounts of paper, ink and electricity can quickly eat into a firm’s profitability, both through direct costs and lost productivity.

“We generally find 30 per cent more printing devices than what the business understood they actually had in the first place. For me, that’s evidence that businesses don’t fully understand the cost of their printing environment,” says Benton.

“We would always find some type of cost savings, and we’ve got mechanisms to be able to achieve that, either by reducing the amount of equipment they have to suit their business [or buying] print management software that can reduce print waste, and obviously the cost of paper.

“And also business efficiencies as well, in relation to managing toner consumables and also the procurement process. A lot of businesses might have multiple suppliers and vendors, which obviously takes time when choosing the right equipment for their business, so by having a single supplier on a managed print service, it can eliminate that burden and make that process easier.”

How much will it cost?

Of course, it’s all very well to look at the benefits of such services, but without knowing the costs behind them, they may simply be a pipe dream. As managed print services are specifically tailored to the consumer, the eventual cost will also be unique.

Regardless of cost, using a managed print service is highly likely to save a business money. According to research performed by Photizo Group, businesses that use a managed print service can reduce printing costs by close to a third (30 per cent).

A businesswoman looks shocked behind a stack of paperAccording to Benton, managed print services are “tailored” to best suit the needs of the consumer.

“We conduct a consulting imaging assessment where we review the client’s environment and infrastructure to fully understand their environment, and then we analyse and provide a summary of those findings to establish a base line that we can use. That base line is used to formulate a right-sized solution for their business, and then also used as a mechanism to measure their success,” he explains.

“Everyone’s business requirements are … from different market segments, as in a small/medium business, to an enterprise, or a government, or an education institution. But even within a segment, each business and organisation has business strategies that are completely different.

“It’s a partnership, so we would be working together with a business [or] organisation to come up with the right solution for them.”

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