What is a managed service provider?
A managed service provider is a company who handles the outsourcing, on a proactive basis, management responsibilities and functions and a strategic method to improve operations and control business costs.
The managed services business model differs from other types of channel companies, such as value-added resellers (VARs). Managed service providers typically use a number of differing pricing models such as a per-device, per-user and all-inclusive pricing, with responsibilities contracted under service level agreements (SLAs).
Managed print service (MPS) providers are companies who manage all aspects of an organisations document infrastructure, including printing devices, scanners, faxes, copiers, software and all support services. Typically, a blend of hardware, software and service is packaged into contracted SLA agreements to assign responsibility and management of the document environment to a dedicated provider. The managed service provider will use a mixture of remote and field-based service to maintain the document technology, with various other specialist departments dedicated to delivering certain aspects of the service.
What to expect from a managed service provider.
Organisations who work with a managed service provider will have different levels of expectation depending on the nature and extent of the service provision, but can typically experience various contractual obligations relating to:
Account and management duties
Routine technological updates
Backup and business continuity
Managed print providers will deliver their services in accordance with the contracted SLAs which can be tailored to the organisations specific requirements. Service response times, the frequency of support or preventative maintenance visits and many other key performance indicators (KPIs) are agreed beforehand and contracted within the SLAs so that customers are clear on what they will receive from the service and how they will benefit.
The service performance is continuously monitored, assessed and reported on by account managers so that both parties understand if the SLAs are being met and how the service can be adapted to better suit the organisation going forwards.
If any aspect of the service requires modifying – such as adding additional print devices to the contract, configuring new software to the print infrastructure or adjusting the levels of support needed – then this will typically be handled by account managers or customer service teams. Most managed service contracts are flexible enough to be updated if and when required.
Aspects of a managed print service
Managed print services can combine different value-added practices to deliver a complete end-to-end offering, from print audits and assessments to implementation and proactive management. It is important that the true scope and value of the managed service is understood, as well as how related document technologies and practices can impact the managed service.
A managed print service will typically include the following different business practices and specialist departments:
The graphic below illustrates different software solution areas that Professional Services can offer within the managed print service environment. Having numerous brands within each software area to choose from demonstrates how much value a managed service provider can add to an organisation when they are able to access and offer such a large variety of business solutions.
Benefits of working with a managed service provider
Adopting managed services is an efficient way to stay up-to-date on technology, have access to skills and address issues related to cost, quality of service and risk.
By optimising the document infrastructure, companies can save money, produce less paper waste and increase efficiency. Here is a more detailed look into the main benefits of working with a managed service provider:
In the digital age we live and work in, it is surprising how many organisations still don’t have effective control over document security, their data, and multi-functional devices (MFDs). The print environment plays a vital role in keeping an organisation’s information safe.
The majority of organisations are unaware that all documents printed, copied, faxed or scanned are saved on a machine’s hard drive, and even worse what happens to this hard drive (HDD) once their device is replaced. An established managed services provider will recommend numerous security measures to safeguard your companies data and work towards GDPR compliance.
Reducing the environmental impact of your print function will not only help the environment, but can also reduce excessive costs, improve efficiency and increase data security.
Research shows users often send print jobs by mistake or print too many copies. Jobs are abandoned if printers are out of paper and users print them somewhere else. When the paper tray is refilled, the now unwanted job starts printing out producing more waste. Without restrictions large print jobs are also sent to small, expensive printers, resulting in a high cost per page.
Managed service providers can help you find the right hardware and software solutions to help green printing and cut waste or misuse, identify areas to rationalise document resources and enforce best practice printing rules and restrictions.
Document assessments will immediately identify any wasteful practices within your organisation and focus on implementing changes to improve this. Too many organisations still waste valuable staff time handling documents that could be replaced by a simple process or even a cloud-based document management solution that removes the need to handle physical documents entirely.
By combining the latest software with best-of-breed hardware, managed service providers can offer a range of benefits to your organisation including improved cost control, reduced waste and an innovative approach which all results in a more efficient philosophy.
A managed print service will allow your organisation to take complete control of printing expenditure and understand precisely how much it costs to produce each page of printing, copying or scanning. It is widely reported that MPS solutions can help companies save up to 40% on all document-related activity.
Print management software can help minimise waste and reduce expenditure, while providing centralised control of printing and copying. The introduction and enforcement of a flexible print policy, whereby restrictions can be set on who prints what and with automatic routing of print jobs to cheaper devices, allows you to reduce your printing costs significantly. It also allows department or document-type rules to be set, in instances where print jobs need to be sent to devices with specific finishing options or higher quality outputs.
3 questions for a managed service provider
When researching which managed service provider to select, undoubtedly, there will be numerous company-specific questions you will want to ask to identify which is best suited to your organisation and document requirements. It is also important to understand and benchmark key common criteria to decide which company has the best credentials, values and business practices. Here are 5 questions that you should ask prospective managed service providers.
Every managed service provider worth their salt should have various credentials awarded by external bodies that evaluate their quality and ethical business practices. Accreditations might include: ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001, Cyber Essentials or Safecontractor. If a prospective service provider cannot demonstrate sufficient industry standards, then you might consider speaking to other organisations.
2. Partnerships or Independence
A critical question to ask is what partnerships the managed service provider has with OEM’s or software providers. Typically, companies are known as manufacturers, mono-brand, multi-brand or independent managed service providers – referring to the amount of different solutions they are able to offer.
If you’re considering a manufacturer, mono-brand or even multi-brand managed print provider, then you are going to be limited to the amount of solutions they can provide. This restricts the possible offerings to your organisation and means that software, hardware or support service combinations may not be best-in-class, best-of-breed or the most ideal available.
Independent service providers have access to the whole of the market and blend the perfect mix of document technology and services to meet your organisations current and future needs.
No matter how reliable a service is, there are times when disruptions are unavoidable. It is important that you understand what measures your managed service provider has taken to mitigate risk and assist your business with keeping core practices like printing up and running in times of need.
Managed print companies that offer additional layers of contingency, above and beyond normal service procedures, can be a very attractive option to organisations. These might include outsourcing capabilities or disaster recovery facilities.
Having the peace of mind that document processes can be outsourced to dedicated facilities to produce, or even taken directly to specialist DR sites by staff to complete, can make all the difference to forward thinking organisations.
A managed service provider for you organisation
Does your organisation currently leverage a managed service provider to handle all the responsibilities of your print and document infrastructure?
The advantages of using a managed services provider are attractive and it’s rare for companies to not benefit from using a specialist provider to handle a core business practice like printing.
If you would like to find out more about Managed Print Services or how Apogee can help your organisation optimise it’s performance, then speak to our Strategic Accounts team today by completing the contact form below.