Before COVID-19, a lot of printing happened. Then the move to hybrid working resulted in lowered print volumes, as reported by Quocirca. If you didn’t notice this paradigm shift, congratulations, you’re not a print geek.
The folks who definitely felt this disruption were Managed Print Services (MPS) providers. Pre-pandemic, MPS reduced associated print and copy costs by managing and servicing devices, toner, ink, and software. Post-pandemic, with far less printing happening, MPS is changing.
You might be thinking, “Do I need managed print services now that my workplace has adopted a hybrid working philosophy?” But your workplace isn’t alone in adapting to post-pandemic printing. MPS is evolving too.
7 ways Managed Print Services is adapting to post-pandemic printing
Printing and document management are still essential parts of the workplace. Office workers still need to print, just not as much as they used to. The transition from office to remote working resulted, out of necessity, in default digitization, and therefore less print and hardcopy documentation.
But the pandemic simply accelerated an existing trend. The rise of digital transformation has been hinting at the long-anticipated arrival of the paperless office. Cloud services have increasingly become the norm for modern businesses. Printing is a piece of that pie. IDC reports that by 2023, 60% of global organizations will deploy cloud-based technologies to enable remote monitoring and management of printing.
The pandemic was the final push for many a workplace to shift to cloud printing and cloud print management for their document output. That’s just one example of the current change to printing environments. As business printing morphs, MPS is evolving with modern workplaces to continue providing value-added services.
1. Existing services help your IT staff
What you’ve come to expect from MPS providers will still be on the table: ink, toner, paper, and device maintenance. The major difference is that lowered print volumes will mean less of all the above.
Out of sight out of mind will only increase the invisibility of your devices’ health. That is, less printing will mean it will be much easier to forget when your fleet was last serviced.
IT teams are shrinking, and their hybrid working responsibilities are growing. MPS provides your IT staff with a much-needed buffer. Sysadmins can focus on supporting remote workers and all the hiccups that ensues, while your MPS provider takes care of your printing environment.
2. Digital-first workflows approach
Digitization has replaced paper documents as the default: move over print jobs, scanning is king. But even though print volumes have declined, when you have to process printed documents, they need to get the same treatment as their digital counterparts.
While some mobile phone apps replicate scanning functionalities, integrated scanning from an MFD secures hard-copy documents, routing them through the same digital processes your organization has invested in already. This simultaneously protects intellectual property; which ideally shouldn’t be captured by non-organizational assets such as users’ phones.
Workers need the ability to simply scan documents not only to their personal destinations but also to enable digital on-ramps capturing data during the scan, to enable routing documents to a line of business applications or platforms.
As part of your MPS agreement, your Reseller can recommend the best software and hardware pairings to optimize your business as a digital-first workplace.
3. Customer choice: on-prem or cloud print management
Modern businesses have been moving away from on-premises server infrastructure including printing. And the print industry has been listening.
Whether you’re managing your print on-premises or in the cloud, MPS providers will meet your needs. If you’re searching for a cloud print management solution, it’s important to choose cloud-native print software over cloud-added: solutions purpose-built for cloud architecture, rather than legacy on-premises technology spun up for the cloud.
Talk to your MPS provider about what print management software suits your cloud needs, cloud or on-prem, they’ll meet you there.
4. Print enablement wherever users are
User expectations for printing are simple: “When I press print, no matter where I am, or what device I’m using, it should just work.” This rings true for printing environments managed by a server or in the cloud.
For managing and enabling print whether on-prem or in the cloud, your MPS provider is the subject matter expert on the software that will enable printing for your users, no matter where they are.
5. Fleet load balancing
MPS providers can provide guidance on redeploying devices to balance out device volume over time.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many customers experienced significant reductions in print volume for many of their devices. But there was little to no reduction for other devices. Sales, marketing, and finance may have all been working remotely throughout the pandemic. But operations and logistics were, necessarily, working onsite.
Therefore, devices continued to output volumes at pre-pandemic levels.
Faced with uncertainty as to whether workers will ever fully return to the office, many organizations have delayed fleet upgrades 12 - 24 months past their initial end of contract. This has also meant pushing some of those devices which have continued output at pre-pandemic levels beyond their design duty cycles. This issue can be addressed by swapping over-utilized devices with under-utilized devices to balance out the total lifetime volume, thus reducing maintenance requirements and outages.
An MPS provider’s knowledge of print management solutions, particularly in accounting and reporting functions, is highly valuable for workplaces that require ongoing assessment of device utilization and fleet redeployments.
6. Set and forget security maintenance
Devices run firmware and other embedded software which occasionally needs updating due to security vulnerabilities.
In most cases, internal IT operations teams do not consider device security after their initial fleet deployment. This is even though risk increases throughout the contract as devices age and firmware becomes more out-of-date.
MPS providers offer proactive management of these firmware and embedded application updates.
7. Device enhancements
Multi-functional printers offer a swathe of features to customers. Most device manufacturers continuously update and improve their companion phone applications and embedded device applications. Such improvements include extending cloud storage integrations, extending phone apps to control device features, and improving user experiences through interface enhancements.
Despite being charged for software maintenance, customers tend not to revisit their device functionality throughout their typical 5-year fleet contract. Opportunities for document process improvement are missed, reducing the potential return on investment their fleet could deliver.
MPS providers can monitor OEM and third-party app improvements their customers are entitled to use. They then can work with their customers to deploy selected improvements through their normal change management process.
Furthermore, MPS providers can engage with their customers throughout the contract to identify where device features or companion applications are not known or understood. User training and consultation should be continuous, not restricted to the initial fleet deployment project.
MPS 2.0: the age of digital workflows
The pandemic made all of us have to adapt to change at the drop of a dime, the workplace was no exception, and neither is Managed Print Services.
The print industry has been innovating and adapting since the rise of digitization, and in the hybrid working era, MPS 2.0 is defining itself by proactive outreach and the digital-first mindset.
To find out how MPS can boost your workplace, talk to a PaperCut Reseller. Drop us a line and we’ll point you in their direction.