By Lisa Guerriero
Managed print services (MPS) transcend basic hardware management. Vendors offer comprehensive solutions that streamline the paths of business documents. A combination of strategies and tools ensure that each MPS customer’s solution is customized for cost savings and efficiency.
Among market leaders, this holistic approach is often known as managed document services (MDS). Industry analysts like Quocirca and Gartner identify market leaders as Canon, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Lexmark, Ricoh, and Xerox, as well as Konica Minolta, Kyocera, and Toshiba.
The approach caught on, in part because MPS customers are discerning veterans. Quocirca reported in 2014 that among large U.S. enterprises it surveyed—those with 1,000 or more employees—over 85 percent either used MPS or planned to implement it in the next year.
Most market leaders perceive an opportunity to migrate existing MPS users to a more comprehensive second- or third-generation solution. These customers require greater productivity and optimization from existing implementations.
Other MPS customers are first-time adopters, especially among small and mid-sized enterprises. Vendors strive to offer comprehensive solutions for these customers as well. New adopters benefit because MPS optimizes their printed output needs.
To ensure a thorough solution that increases productivity over time, MPS providers break the service into multiple stages. These stages generally fall into three categories—development, implementation, and maintenance.
Here we highlight a selection of prominent MPS providers and discuss how each vendor’s solutions ensure effective print management.
Spotlight on Solutions
Canon U.S.A., Inc. considers its offering to be managed services rather than straight MPS. The company helps customers graduate beyond output-focused services and derive more value than they did with earlier-generation MPS.
For companies considering MPS, Dennis Amorosano, VP/GM, marketing division, Business Imaging Solutions, Canon U.S.A., Inc., recommends investing in solutions that can provide true efficiencies.
“Basic MPS delivery is facing the threat of commoditization, a cost-per-print ‘decimal war,’ largely due to its inherent narrow scope of services. Expanding to a managed services model that solves real end-customer business challenges is the next logical step,” he says.
The company breaks its services into five stages, Discover & Analyze, Design, Deploy & Transition, Support & Manage, and Evaluate & Review. Canon gathers insight and data about the enterprise’s output environment and activity and reports back to the customer.
Canon’s team then develops a plan based on the assessment as well as the customer’s goals and needs.
The implementation phase includes the physical movement and replacement of equipment.
Once the solution is implemented, support and management are key. “A poorly maintained output environment is costly not only in numbers, but in employee productivity. Canon’s tools for service delivery are advanced and designed so that you can stay focused on your core business, instead of thinking about support issues,” notes Amorosano.
Evaluation and review are performed on an ongoing basis to ensure continuous business process improvement.
Although solutions vary depending on the vertical market and each business’ needs, Canon believes its structure ensures productivity for all clients.
“Canon’s five-phase methodology, inclusive of quarterly business reviews, clearly defines return on investment (ROI) in addition to identifying new opportunities to solve real customer challenges and deliver better business outcomes,” notes Amorosano.
HP specializes in several industries, including financial services and insurance; healthcare; manufacturing and distribution; communications, media, and entertainment; and the public sector.
The key to successful MPS is taking a broader and more modernized view at the factors that influence document pathways. “Initially, largely a cost reduction story, MPS today is about increasing employee and IT productivity and performance, and continuous improvement through increased transparency and control,” explains Todd Gregory, director, Print and Personal Systems, HP.
To be effective, MPS must address security, the digital influence on workflow, and the client’s need for a flexible solution that adapts when the business changes.
“Many organizations don’t know the true cost of their imaging and printing print spend, much less the opportunity to drive down the number of pages printed through best practices and end user acceptance. Certainly, most organizations are not aware of security considerations—including secure disposal of old equipment,” says Gregory.
An effective MPS solution addresses timely factors like device management, content capture, and mobile printing. Printers and multifunction products (MFPs) are “smart” devices that interact with corporate data and are effectively an on-ramp to the network. Interest in secure print solutions increased across nearly all segments and regions, notes Gregory. In response, HP released JetAdvantage Security Manager, which helps customers detect and protect their print infrastructure.
By addressing all of these areas of MPS and providing regular reporting to track the solution’s efficacy, HP ensures ROI.
Konica Minolta’s Optimized Print Services (OPS) combines consultancy, hardware, and software implementation and operation to improve print management.
The OPS concept focuses on five areas—fleet, process, financing, security, and “green.” It links three essential functions—consult, implement, and manage.
Lexmark cites double-digit growth in MPS, with particular growth from the government and healthcare segments. It also provides solutions for banking, education, insurance, manufacturing, and retail. The company’s goal is not just to manage printers, but to leverage print infrastructure to optimize and streamline workflows and business processes, says Kyle Farmer, VP/GM, managed print services, Lexmark.
“An exciting aspect of the evolution of MPS is helping our customers grow their business with their customers, rather than just helping them reduce costs and build efficiencies,” he observes.
The company looks at MPS in three stages, starting with infrastructure optimization. Next, in the proactive management stage, Lexmark provides a single-system of the infrastructure, ensuring uptime.
The final phase is streamlining/business optimization. Lexmark digitizes and simplifies critical processes. The data collected during the second stage now serves to improve processes in the back office and public-facing environments.
“Our closed-loop governance process ensures that we meet established ROI targets at every phase of the engagement. This includes monthly measurement reporting, quarterly strategic business reviews, and an annual satisfaction survey,” says Farmer.
Lexmark offers an integrated platform. Because it owns its technology, the company is able to unify output, content, and process management. “These technologies enable us to solve unstructured content problems that span both paper, such as documents, forms, and notes; and digital, such as email, images, video, and electronic forms formats,” he explains.
Toshiba views MPS as having three types of customers, late adopters, existing MPS users looking for a better solution, and “customers who think they are doing MPS, but are really just buying toner and service,” explain Kathy De Santi, program manager, and Jon Hafey, director, Strategic MPS Business Development, Toshiba America Business Solutions.
These groups have disparate needs and goals, but the common thread is the need for mature processes for implementation and execution. “Many clients are still waiting to actually achieve the benefits that MPS has promised. As a result, many are focused on refining their current programs and products to better realize the full potential of MPS,” say De Santi and Hafey.
Early stages of Toshiba’s program include assessing legacy devices and optimizing placement and reallocation prior to procuring new equipment.
The company designs its document output and device management solutions to protect and control print volumes and expenses. It strives to simplify and optimize fleet management and workflow.
During development, Toshiba works with the customer to establish strategic, financial, and operational goals for the engagement. After implementation, both Toshiba and the client have tools to evaluate the program’s success.
“During meetings and quarterly strategic business reviews, we review progress against those targets and continuously identify opportunities for improvement. In addition, Toshiba customers have access to tools to help manage their fleet, with extensive data on all critical aspects of the fleet,” note De Santi and Hafey.
Xerox combines classic MPS services with sophisticated components like data analytics, mobile access, and security. It offers a suite of services, allowing clients to select a program suited to their needs and expectations.
The company strives to provide a modernized version of core MPS services, like document lifecycle management. Xerox drills down to establish who created a document, where the document originates, how many people used it, and how long it lasted. This level of scrutiny gives the company insight into the customer’s workflow and how best to re-engineer document pathways. “We can find and process hot spot inefficiencies,” observes Kirk Pothos, VP, MPS offering development, Xerox Corporation.
The customer’s devices must also be analyzed to ascertain their condition and how they were used. This allows Xerox to show the client what environment is ideal for the equipment, and vice versa. It also ensures ROI later in the process. Usage patterns come under the microscope. A printer may produce 1,000 pages a month, but how that number is reached affects the MPS. If only two users hit the 1,000 with sporadic, high-volume printing, it’s different than five people using it regularly for smaller jobs.
When devices are eliminated, the customer relies more on the remaining equipment. Understanding these machines and properly maintaining them is important. “We want to make our devices better MPS citizens,” explains Pothos.
Device and document data serve another purpose—analytics. Xerox utilizes the information to track the customer’s progress and make adjustments to maximize efficiency. The company recently released a third analytic platform focused on the user. Called CompleteView User Analytics Tool, it evaluates users’ non-essential printing, how often they print, and the time of day they use the device.
Xerox also focuses on mobility—access as well as security. “We do see that customers want to work using mobile devices,” notes Pothos.
Print and document management needs continue to grow. New enterprises seek solutions, especially in segments where MPS penetration is low. Moreover, the market is ripe with early adopters looking for a more comprehensive solution.
Vendors approach MPS differently, but there is a common thread among market leaders. They take a broader view of their services. While programs manage devices and documents, they also play a role in efficient workflow and business practices.
Changes in business practices and IT affect the MPS landscape. Vendors are already adjusting their solutions because of greater mobile use, security concerns, and the demand for data analytics. MPS strategies that meet these needs will have the most success in the future. dps