Industry Perspective: Playbook for Government Managed Print Services Programs

The sheer effort to manage countless multifunction products, fax machines and printers may cause significant operational impact --something managed print services can help with.

by Kathy De Santi, Program Manager, Managed Print Services, Toshiba America Business Solutions, Inc. / April 16, 2014

Many local and state government institutions have a strong focus on dramatically reducing print-related expenditures and redirecting funds to meet the needs of their communities -- and they're doing this via managed print services (MPS). 

Government agencies and municipalities typically manage purchase and maintenance activities in a decentralized fashion. Complicating the situation, IT has traditionally been responsible for printer purchases, supplies and support, while procurement oversees the document management programs. The sheer effort to manage countless multifunction products (MFPs), fax machines and printers may cause significant operational impact --something MPS can help with.

What Does MPS Mean?

MPS focuses on continual optimization of document output and workflow. 

According to the Gartner Group, adopting an MPS program, including fleet optimization efforts, can typically save an organization 30 percent off its print costs. It’s no surprise, then, that cost is the primary driver for most government entities considering MPS. But what is the best way to reduce cost? 

MPS programs can take many shapes. To implement a truly comprehensive program, it's important to design one that covers all aspects of document management, including:

  • Assessment services – including detailed data and floor plan reviews – to confirm requirements and optimize device placement, prior to new device procurement; 
  • Optimization services, including reallocating usable networked printers where appropriate;
  • Legacy printer maintenance and supplies to support existing fleet requirements;
  • Document output and device management solutions designed to help simplify and overcome device and fleet management issues, as well as optimize, protect and control print volumes and expenses;
  • Workflow solutions to scan, process, manage and distribute electronic document images and the data they contain;
  • Security programs, tools and technologies to safeguard equipment and information;
  • Environmentally friendly programs to promote green initiatives, including toner recycling; and
  • End-user behavior management. The solution should include strategies and technology to help reduce printing, lower costs and encourage environmental responsibility.

Best Practices

The concept of implementing MPS can seem monumental, so to ensure the success, government entities should consider the following best practices:

  1. Partnership – Establish a collaborative partnership and be fully committed to working together with your vendor(s) to achieve success.  
  2. Ownership – Determine clear internal ownership of the initiative by assigning a project champion.  
  3. Setting Expectations – A crisp project plan with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, deliverables and deadlines is key to a successful implementation, ensuring installation occurs on time and within budget.
  4. Phased Approach – Embracing a staggered deployment approach allows for immediate cost savings and operational streamlining, while mitigating the impact of outstanding lease obligations.
  5. Communication – It is critical to communicate the rationale for the shift to a managed print environment to all staff members, initially and throughout the implementation process.  
  6. Simplified Structure – A single point of contact for all service, supplies and new equipment can greatly simplify the administrative aspects of document management.
  7. Automation – Leverage the tools available to introduce automation. From supplies to service to relieve the burden on staff, expedite service and reduce downtime.

Perhaps the most critical aspect of the process is vendor selection.  Since MPS engagements often run at least three to five years, carefully choose a preferred partner with the following credentials: vision, experience, high-quality equipment, existing infrastructure support, a vast service network, technical savvy, customized procurement models and stability. 

Implementing MPS

There are four primary stages of implementation: 

  1. In the Project Definition phase, defining the project scope and outlining a company's document infrastructure, production and management goals and objectives are the primary steps to initiating a comprehensive document analysis. 
  2. The Assessment Process is the discovery phase, where the fleet is evaluated to determine device make-up and usage, as well as general workflow dynamics.  Key customer and partner stakeholders review and refine the formal recommendations for document infrastructure optimization.
  3. Optimization is where the magic takes place. Once the optimization plan is approved, the implementation takes place. The actual timing varies on the size and scope of the engagement. 
  4. Steady State is the control phase where initiatives are introduced to provide long-term success and profitability. This may include integrating benchmarking, reporting, account reviews, fleet management and user behavior modification software. Performance is tightly measured against service level agreements. Most importantly, this aspect creates the necessary controls and measurements to ensure accountability and adherence to the new document processes – the ultimate determinant of program success.

When planned and deployed appropriately, MPS can produce significant benefits for any government entity. The key is to customize an approach that truly aligns with the entity’s specific dynamics and culture, considering strategic goals, financial objectives, operational processes, departmental priorities, regulatory requirements, existing infrastructure and other business aspects that impact the document management strategy.  Overly ambitious targets and unreasonable staff-to-device ratios can doom the initiative, while sound planning can set a strong foundation.

The goal is simple, but true success lies in the execution.  By selecting a reliable partner, leveraging best practices, following a methodical approach, and deploying the appropriate solutions, processes and tools, any organization – large or small, public or private – can create and execute an MPS strategy that is visionary, yet realistic, producing both significant and sustainable benefits.

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