6.1 What is it?
Managed Print Service (MPS) is offered by specialist providers, and is a service that manages all aspects of your business printing devices, such as printers, scanners, fax machines, and photocopiers. Most businesses use managed print services in order to monitor their print output with a view to optimise and consolidate their devices to save vast amounts of money. Businesses also tend to choose managed print services in order to reduce the amount of their waste print paper, reducing their environmental footprint and increasing efficiency.
6.2 What is included in a Managed Print Service?
Many different elements can be included in an MPS package. Machine servicing and engineer call outs is one of the main functions of an MPS contract. If your equipment breaks down, an engineer will come and fix your machine and replace parts if needed, allowing business to return to normal. User support should be included in any good managed print service; this provides training, a helpline in case of emergencies, and help with any software connected to the devices. Some MPS agreements may include a scheme for ink and toner, usually comprising of monitoring and managing the ordering of your toner, and the recycling of empty cartridges. Selecting the right managed print service is therefore a decision that should be well researched, as aspects like toner may be included, but other consumables such as staples may not be included, which would incur extra costs.
6.3 What does a printer and photocopier service involve?
Service engineers, as mentioned earlier, will cover the maintenance of your machine fleet, and fix your machines by replacing broken parts if required. Certain print providers will not only repair your machine when it breaks down, but also proactively service your machines in order to prevent breakdowns. This means
that your organisation can focus solely on business, and not worrying about broken machines halting your business processes.
A good MPS provider will have their own engineers and not outsource this service. These engineers should be rigorously trained by the provider or with the manufacturers themselves, ensuring that you can rely on the service you are receiving.
When selecting an MPS provider try to find out about their engineer numbers and where in the country they are, this will give you some indication of how quickly they will respond and help with your machine breakdowns.
There are three main ways of billing for managed print services, cost per copy, cost per development, and tiered billing.
Cost per Copy
Cost per copy is generally presented as the standard industry approach of MPS billing. There is normally a flat rate price per printed page, with many elements being considered to reach the end figure such as: the inclusion of toner, an engineering service, the replacement of machine components, and user support.
You will be charged a different price for printing in just black as opposed to in colour. You will also be charged more for an A3 sheet rather than A4 as the area
is twice as large. If you do duplex printing on both sides of a sheet of paper this would be classed as two clicks.
Cost per Development
Cost per development, sometimes called cost per separation or cost per colour,
is where the print provider will charge based on the number or amount of colour used. With the typical digital print process involving 4 colours, cyan, magenta, yellow and black. So if you were on the cost per development plan and you printed in colour, you would be charged four times your quoted cost per separation. This method of billing is usually cost effective if you only require the need
to print in one colour. Cost per colour can be deceptive however, as a lot of companies use clever wording in order to gain more money, insinuating that there is a flat rate for colour pages, instead charging per colour used.
There is usually confusion between these two types of billing. One company may quote ‘cost per page’ or ‘cost per copy’, while another company may quote ‘cost per separation’ or ‘cost per colour’. The difference between these terms is often not made clear, so understanding what you are being quoted for in advance makes sense.
Be aware of the ambiguity of the terms used, as this is where companies can come into trouble.
To put it in context, you receive two quotes:
Company A quotes
2p per black copy
5p per colour copy
Company B quotes
1p per black
2p per colour
On the face of it, company B seems to offer a much better deal, you would be saving 1p on black and 3p on colour. However, company B’s prices do not mention copy, it is in fact cost per separation (or colour), and that actually works out more expensive.
Here is how it works:
- Company A has quoted exactly that you are paying for each black page and each colour page. For every piece of paper that contains solely black ink, you pay 2p and each page that contains coloured ink you pay 5p per copy.
- Company B has quoted the rates you are paying for each colour used on the page. Each black page will cost 1p, but colour pages, use colour from all four cartridges: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. The quote is 1p for black and 2p for each of those colours used on the page, adding up to 7p per colour page.
Therefore, company A is actually the cheaper quote, however, it is easy to see why many companies just simply go for the quote from companies like company B
Read the below article on being careful and what to look out for when it comes to cost per colour billing.
Tiered billing then, is similar to cost per colour/separation, however instead of charging per colour used, tiered billing charges based on the percentage of colour coverage on a page. This type of billing would be useful, for example, with an accountancy firm that may only print a small logo in colour at the bottom of a page, as the percentage of colour used is small, so costs would be low. A company that prints in varying amounts of colour or large amounts of solid colour may suit a different type of billing, as costs may be high and widely vary from month to month.
6.5 Questions to ask when signing up for Managed Print Services
As we have seen, different print providers will include different elements in their MPS packages, all at varying costs. The below points should be considered by any person or entity wanting a managed print service for their organisation:
- What will my contract cover?
- Will the contract be a fixed price per month or based on usage? Will it increase in price over time?
- Are the costs of parts and labour covered?
- How quickly will an engineer be sent out if required?
- Will you receive a replacement if your photocopier is not repairable? Or will a courtesy copier be sent if the machine has to be repaired off-site?
- Does your print provider use in-house tracked engineers or third party engineers?
- How many service / support staff does the provider employ and what experience / training have they received?
- How far away is the provider located from your premises and how quickly are they agreeing to respond to your calls?
- What industry qualifications does the provider have?
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