Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2016 and has since been updated.
Are you new to managed print and wondering, "Is MPS right for me?" If your current or target customers print on a regular basis, then you should consider adding managed print to your existing offerings. It's a big decision that's easier said than done, so in this post we'll be looking at the different MPS solutions available and discussing the key features to consider when choosing a provider to help you determine whether MPS is right for you.
While integrating more document management solutions has reduced the amount of printing in some industries, offices and workplaces are still only paper-light and, according to many in the industry, the paperless office is a long way off yet. Given that paper seems to be here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future, there are numerous use cases for managed print programs.
Programs can vary in size and complexity, and they can be tailored to meet your unique business needs. Whether you're a dealer managing dozens or even hundreds of devices or you're a distributor managing thousands, you can partner with an MPS provider to provide your customers everything from an enterprise to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution.
So what are your options? The below quadrant chart looks at the scalability and cost of the various types of MPS solutions available on the market. Implementation and pricing are often the first two questions customers have when they start researching managed print services. How easy is it going to be to get your program up and running and scale it as your business grows? What are the initial costs when launching your MPS program?
As the chart shows, enterprise and SaaS solutions fall on virtually opposite ends of the scale versus cost spectrum. While an enterprise solution involves the setup of a server for the program—including costs associated with hardware, installation and maintenance—SaaS solutions are generally more cost-effective for resellers in terms of initial setup, implementation, scaling and ongoing support. However, this may not true for you and the best MPS solution for your business will depend on your MPS strategy.
Depending on the type and size of your business, and your position within your respective industry, an enterprise solution might make more sense than a SaaS one. Context is always the first thing to take into account when considering managed print; what are your needs and what are you looking for in an MPS program?
Other low-cost options exist if you're truly uncertain about whether or not managed print can benefit you. Rapid assessment tools can be used to ‘test’ a solution in your print environment, and they're also valuable sales enablement tools that can help your Sales team perform onsite assessments and sell end users on the benefits of MPS.
Regardless of which solution you choose, these are five things you should always consider when choosing an MPS provider or solution:
- Data accuracy: All the features and functionalities in the world won’t matter if the software isn't built on a solid foundation and you're not collecting the most accurate, reliable data possible. All devices come with their own specifications, meter and supply labels, error codes, and more, and unless you're equipped with a solution that keeps manufacturer information up-to-date and collects all of these pieces of information, you could be missing out on valuable insights when it comes to your customers’ print environments. Accurate data is essential for a quality managed print program.
- Integrations: If you're considering any integrations between your MPS solution and a third-party service or solution, you need to consider the use of APIs. If the program you have in mind requires data to be pushed from one application into another, be sure to look for an MPS provider that is as agnostic as you need your solution to be.
- Security: With great data comes great responsibility. The Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data have made some waves in the IT industry in terms of privacy and cyber security. As with any industry that deals in the collection and exchange of data, these concerns also ring true for MPS customers and providers. Ask potential providers about the security measures they have in place to ensure that any data collected is secure and the software complies with all data security legislation in your area. Not sure what these regulations are? You can find out what laws apply to you and your organization by visiting Data Protection Laws of the World.
- Cloud infrastructure: Cloud computing is here to stay with commodity cloud providers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google dominating the market with their cost-effective platforms. The cloud fuels everything from IoT to SaaS solutions, including managed print offerings. If you're going the SaaS route, ask potential MPS providers who they host their solutions with and ensure it meets your program needs. When you purchase a SaaS solution, you're not just partnering with the MPS provider, but with their chosen cloud services provider as well.
- Scalability: The more difficult it is to scale your MPS solution, the more growing pains you'll experience as your business grows. You want a flexible solution that can grow with you, not hold you back or slow you down when you are looking to break into a new market or have a large opportunity in the funnel. Most SaaS solutions hosted in the cloud are easy to scale, but only if you have an equally flexible MPS provider that can support your business requirements.
The first step is determining what you need from a managed print solution – here are five questions to ask when you're evaluating an MPS program. Once you've identified your requirements, the next step is to ask yourself whether you have the resources to build an in-house program or you should partner with a solution provider. Check out the third and final part of our How Do You Know blog series where we'll discuss when and why you should partner instead of going the managed print road alone.
Looking for a more in-depth introduction to MPS? Download our Complete Guide to Managed Print Services.