The notion and discipline of Managed Print Services (MPS) is evolving. Originally devised as a means of controlling the enterprise-wide expansion of printer and copier fleets and the related expense, a comprehensive MPS strategy today not only manages hardware and consumable costs, but also extends important value and improvements into additional business areas.
Things like collaboration, customer service and regulatory compliance all are dependent upon the document and information flow within an organization.
As a result, the MPS market continues to grow beyond the core services of device consolidation and cost savings toward driving improved business efficiency around all types of paper-dependent processes.
Today, companies of all sizes face new challenges when it comes to their printer and copier fleets, well beyond the basic issue of cost control. The most effective MPS engagements have moved beyond a hardware-centric approach to look more closely at how business processes and information workflow can be improved for enhanced organizational performance. Indeed, with the majority of enterprises looking to increase their digitization efforts, MPS is proving to be an effective approach to the integration of a digital workflow in previously paper-bound process.
Map The MPS Journey
How can organizations make the most of their MPS initiatives? One way is to map existing document workflow. Every business has some sort of document workflow process in use. Whether that process is limited to a single individual or multiple people, a series of steps is completed to formulate the workflow process. This can consist of an invoice, an order, a contract, or any other document that drives any particular process. Since this occurs every single day in every single business, it is easy to expand the value of the MPS initiative to improve and streamline important document workflow processes to maximize efficiency, service and cost savings.
Process Improvement Opportunity
Service providers can expand the value of their MPS initiatives by considering the possibilities of automated workflow using document management and how that automation can relieve and eliminate the inefficiencies and intrinsic costs of dealing with paper. Some points of contention when dealing with paper may include:
- Loss of documentation
- Inability to quickly locate information for customer service responses
- Increased risk of non-compliance for audit or security
- Rising costs of additional staff to process paper based workflows
- Efficiency in managing the paper for tracking and status purposes
- Cost and inefficiency moving paper between a remote locations and a corporate office
Where to Start
One stumbling block for extending an MPS practice is simply getting started. With so many documents and so many important business processes to choose from it can seem overwhelming. The question is the same for both providers and customers, “Where do I begin?” Start by selecting one document process to work with. The old adage “reaching the end of your journey starts with the first step” holds true.
Don’t try to improve every business processes at one time; start with the ones that are most important. After selecting the process to improve, begin by breaking the process down into steps from beginning to end. Spend time with each person involved along the way and find out what action items occur at each step, what the exceptions for each decision are and where the document goes once it leaves that step. The end result of this will be a clear understanding of what takes place today, as well as a clearer understanding of how to improve it.
Suppliers Must Step Up
For suppliers, understanding the shift between a cost-based mindset and a value-based approach is the key to understanding how to provide more value to customers. MPS is maturing, and the key is offering more strategically oriented MPS services and consultations that go beyond device consolidation and per-click savings. More than 50 percent of large enterprises are using some form of MPS already, and analysts estimate that a further 20 percent are planning to adopt MPS within the next year. In order to continue to compete, suppliers and vendors will need to provide more value-added service and expanded solutions that support broader process improvement.
Make a Business Impact
Businesses looking to extend the value of their MPS initiatives should look for an MPS provider that can have a truly transformative business impact. This requires the ability to look expertly at how machines, systems and software can be deployed and coordinated to improve organizational performance and not just cut costs. Employees are demanding access to the latest technologies that enable them to work more flexibly and productively.
Meanwhile, customer expectations are changing, meaning organizations must interact in more dynamic, agile ways to maintain a competitive advantage. This demands a new kind of MPS provider that can tame the scope-creep of device infrastructure and remove the IT complexity, while helping customers focus on innovation and process improvement that make a difference in new and more expansive ways.
For many organizations, the networked printer, copier and multi-function device is the most logical starting point for digitizing content and automating workflows. As a result, process optimization will continue to be a point of emphasis for businesses and providers alike as MPS continues to evolve.
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