Reducing the complexity and cost of the print environment As enterprises recognise the costs associated with an uncontrolled printing environment, many are turning to specialist managed print services (MPS) providers. MPS services encompass the assessment, optimisation and management of the print environment. Increasingly, MPS providers are now adopting a partnered out-tasking approach by delivering flexible services that can be tailored to individual customer requirements.
- The MPS market is characterised by services offered by both printer manufacturers and IT outsourcing services providers. Although the market is dominated by offerings from printer manufacturers, IT outsourcing service providers are increasingly including MPS as part of their desktop management services.
- Established and broad MPS portfolios are offered by manufacturers such as Xerox, HP, Canon and Lexmark. These vendors all offer a robust set of services covering assessment, planning, implementation, management and ongoing maintenance and support for a multivendor environment. Canon, HP and Lexmark in particular, adopt a flexible co-operative approach to delivering MPS. Xerox‟s extended capabilities in offering document outsourcing and business process services currently position it as the vendor with the strongest global offerings in the MPS space. This has been helped by its global partnership with EDS, although the recent HP acquisition of EDS will, no doubt, impact Xerox‟s partnership whilst enabling HP to gain a new channel for pushing its MPS offerings.
- IT outsourcing service providers are positioning MPS as part of their green IT services. Accenture, CSC and Atos Origin are leading with a green approach. Printer vendors should look for opportunities to gain access to new clients by establishing deeper alliances with such IT providers. With enterprises increasingly interested in sustainability issues, MPS can deliver clear environmental benefits through reduced paper and energy use.
- Assessments underpin a successful MPS. Most IT outsourcing engagements begin with an initial assessment of the IT infrastructure. Whilst many organisations may have conducted this for the rest of their IT operations, the print environment is typically neglected. IT service providers should work closely with print partners to leverage their expertise in conducting these complex print assessments, emphasising the importance of alliances between manufacturers and IT outsourcing providers.
- Standardisation is the key to successful long-term MPS. As most organisations operate with a heterogeneous print environment, the advantage of fully supporting a multivendor environment in the initial stages of an MPS engagement cannot be overstated. However standardised, technology must be flexible and open enough to integrate with new technology as the business requirements and market offerings change.
- The quality of service level agreements (SLA) will shape successful ongoing MPS engagements. SLAs are an essential part of any outsourcing project. Whilst IT service providers will have already developed a best practice approach to SLAs through existing outsourcing engagements, emerging printer manufacturer MPS providers will need to ensure that SLAs are flexible, promote risk and reward sharing, and provide benefits for both parties. This is particularly well demonstrated by Fujitsu Siemens Computers‟ open-book benefit sharing model.
- Integration with IT management software will enhance the value of MPS. Today MPS capabilities are limited to proprietary document accounting and reporting tools which give a view solely of the print environment. As other parts of the IT infrastructure are typically managed by standardised systems management tools, tying print management and reporting tools to the IT management tools represents an opportunity for the print environment to be viewed and controlled as part of more holistic IT management
- Supporting business processes represents real opportunity. Utilising document workflow solutions, such as document capture and secure printing, as part of an MPS engagement, enables both paper and electronic documents to be more tightly integrated into business processes. This takes MPS to the next level by building on its foundation to manage the print infrastructure to enabling real business value through managing the complete document lifecycle
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