The office environment -- and its myriad printing, copying, scanning and fax devices -- has become the new frontier for cost-cutting. "Unlike a lot of areas of infrastructure, like data centers, desktops and call centers -- we pretty much beat up those in terms of cost savings for years -- the office environment with these types of devices has been pretty unmanaged," says Craig LeClair, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. That's especially true now that many companies are doing away with office managers, who used to monitor such spending, he says. But he is bullish on MPS as the solution to escalating printing costs.
A true MPS provider offers much more than just a maintenance and ink-and-toner-replacement contract. "This is a contract with a third party that almost plays an advisory role to you," says IDC analyst Angèle Boyd. They provide continuous monitoring of your environment and know where the output is going, how much is being used by different departments and what type of output is being produced.
In the current economy, though, cost savings is the No. 1 reason why companies choose MPS, and most are saving 25 percent to 29 percent annually on their printing costs, Boyd says.
"There's a proliferation of print device models, consumables end up becoming obsolete in closets, and the number of devices per employee is way too luxurious in most current environments," LeClair adds. "When you can ratchet up the use of these devices from three employees using one device to 10-to-1, you can take a lot of costs out of the environment."
Like P&G, Rent-A-Center was looking to improve printing efficiencies with managed print services, but the cost savings were an added benefit.
The Plano, Texas-based company has 3,100 stores, and the ability to print rental contracts and receipts is essential. "If we can't print, we can't rent," says Jai P. Chanani, director of technical services. He chose High Touch Inc. to manage 3,400 HP printers, with the goal of improving uptime. One year into the project, printing equipment downtime has been all but eliminated.
"We still have the same number of printers, but they're better managed," Chanani says. High Touch monitors the performance of all printers from its Wichita, Kan., office using HP's JetAdmin tool. Replacement cartridges are sent to Rent-A-Center stores before they're needed, and High Touch dispatches a service partner in the area when monitoring shows that a device needs maintenance. If a printer can't be repaired, or if the monitoring tool catches three or four service calls on the same printer within 90 days, High Touch replaces the printer with a current model at no additional cost.
"The key that drove us was to enable our stores to print anytime, but the cost savings was a nice benefit for us," Chanani adds. The project is on track to save Rent-A-Center over $1 million a year -- one-third of its annual printing budget -- in cartridge expenses alone.
Industry-watchers say MPS can help companies of all sizes save money, improve uptime and gain efficiencies -- if an MPS program is implemented properly.
A prospective service provider or independent firm will assess the printers and paper flows of the entire organization to look for economies of scale and then make recommendations to improve efficiency. Ideally, the service provider will have benchmarking data to compare the printing costs at your company with those of others in the same industry.
It's important to find a provider that can scale with you -- especially if you're a large enterprise with a national or global footprint. "The highest costs savings are going to come the more you extend this throughout your corporation," Boyd says.