Avoiding the Managed Print Rip-off
Over the years I've met many businesses that have signed up to Managed Print Service (MPS) contracts on the promise of spectacular savings that just weren't there when the bills came in. What's worrying is that it's happening more and more. So what's going on?
The problem is the cost-per-page deal that has become the core proposition of many contracts, whereby the business replaces the expense and management headache of running a printing fleet with a payment structure developed around output. Replacing capital costs with a managed service model based on paying a few cents for each printed page is a tantalising prospect, made even more attractive because of a race to the bottom on price. But there’s a catch.
Many of these contracts present a cost-per-page figure based on black and white printing and a higher price for colour. Colour is then made readily available to all users. Without constraints on who can and can’t print colour – a prerequisite of best practice MPS, but absent from many bargain-basement providers – costs soar and the bill bears little resemblance to the quoted figure you signed up for.
The MPS market has become so competitive that some less-than-scrupulous providers do cheap deals that are loss making at the outset because they believe they can claw back a profit, one way or another, over the term of the contract. Scratching around trying to make money becomes the focus of their ‘service’ rather than delivering all the benefits of a properly executed MPS. I'd be very surprised if the client company has any meaningful agreement around guaranteed uptime and I’ve met plenty who have called us because they’re fed up waiting for machines to get repaired.
I would urge organisations to weight cost as only one part of an MPS contract, the same way they would with any IT service. What you pay is obviously important, but when it becomes the central pillar of a contract you have to ask yourself what you are sacrificing in terms of service and support. If you think that print is in some way simpler, more commoditised and therefore more price driven, you are making a big mistake.
It never ceases to amaze me that organisations are investing heavily in front-facing services, digitising their businesses to better connect with customers, while providing their own people with an ancient print environment that doesn’t do anything to make them more productive or accelerate the efficiency of the business.
While Ergo always competes on price, it's not our primary focus and neither should it be yours. A fleet of properly networked MFDs (Multi-Function Devices), centrally managed with security and workflow embedded in the environment, can be every bit as transformational as cutting-edge technology in other parts of the business. You just need a provider that has the skill and experience to show you how.
What it really comes down to is partnership. Get over the idea that MPS is a commodity service where the principal function is to cut costs and relieve your IT department of a headache. Because of the security implications alone, you can’t afford to treat it lightly. You need to select an MPS provider that is willing to engage with you and your business in a way that will ensure ongoing efficiencies and uptime; someone that will continuously monitor the service to make sure it’s delivering optimum value.
I suppose the difference with Ergo is that we we’re in it for the long haul. We’re interested in delivering continuous improvement and facilitating true business transformation. It’s a long way from someone selling you a cost-per-page deal that’s full of holes and does nothing for your business.