To MPS or not to MPS? That is the question... or is it?

What is MPS? The Managed Print Services Association defines MPS as: the active management and optimisation of business processes related to documents and information, including input and output devices. Today, MPS is essentially synonymous with a service that is delivered to a company by an external provider.

What does MPS provide?

Delivering the MPS service to the customer requires a number of processes that help with the active management and optimisation of printing. The processes could be things like inventory audit, fleet optimisation, device management, toner ordering, and financial services. They will almost always include a set of print management software tools delivering things like print queue and driver administration, user job accounting, secure print, scanning and workflow optimisation.

In the early days of MPS, these processes were often delivered as a combination of both manual and tool-driven events, e.g. manual collection of meter readings versus later remote tools for automatic meter collection. Another example is manual toner ordering versus tools that can automatically order toner on a just-in-time basis so customers eliminate local storage of toner cartridges.

MPS software solutions: A bloated feature set?

Many of these processes are currently covered by a variety of software vendors. Examples of solutions range from auditing with PrintAudit, optimization with AssetDB, device management with JetAdvice, user job accounting with Paper Cut NG, Secure Print with SafeCom Pull Print, scanning with Drivve Image to full capture workflow solutions with AutoStore.

Often these tools require expert knowledge to install, operate and maintain for the customer to get the full benefits. The tools can also be characterised by a bloated feature set that has creeped into the products after many years of customer influence. The result has introduced higher entry barriers for the customer such as the hefty up-front investment, extensive installation and roll out time, license management, and maintenance fees.

This also means that we seldom see the full breadth of these tools being used outside of an MPS contract. This development is unfortunate because many of these tools could actually help every single customer with a printing need and not just those that are able to cross the high entry barrier. The first question the customer should ask is not 'to MPS or not to MPS', but rather to do PM or not to do PM.

Print Management: The heart of MPS

Print Management should be the foundation of any type of MPS, whether it’s done by the customer itself or delivered by an MPS provider. A proper print management tool of tomorrow should enable any customer to manage their print environment from cradle-to-grave while delivering an equal amount of cost optimisation (removing print servers, alleviating administrative tasks etc.) and added value (i.e. feature-rich yet easily adoptable and flexible print environment for office workers, guided maintenance for IT administration, and easy to handle consumable ordering for procurement).

We believe that every customer should have a modern print management tool to get all the benefits. Whether the customer wants to run their own MPS (like most still do) or have it delivered by an external provider has its advantages and disadvantages, but that should still not be the question. Print management is no longer 'rocket science' – it's print management for everyone.

Hugo Marqvorsen, Business Development, Printix.net