Author: Louella Fernandes, Associate Director at Quocirca
20 Mar 2015
Printing remains a core element of many business processes. Research by Quocirca reveals that overall, 30 percent of organisations view printing as critical to their business processes. This rises to 73 percent for financial services, followed by 41 percent for the public sector. Left uncontrolled, this can lead to escalating costs – both financial and environmental – as well as exposing an organisation to potential document security risks in today’s age of governance and compliance.
Over the past decade, many businesses have turned to MPS to help them reduce costs, improve productivity, enhance compliance and achieve environmental sustainability. Through device consolidation and the use of advanced multifunction peripherals (MFPs), organisations have been able to reduce costs, improve productivity and enhance security.
Key to a next generation MPS contract is joining up enterprise print and developing a strategy that supports mobility, security, cloud and digitisation
As MPS providers and their customers have gained experience and relationships have matured, we are seeing the emergence and implementation of the second and third generation of MPS engagements. More demanding buyers are now looking for total business impact and transformation, and partnering with vendors to bo ost value within their business.
With the core hardware-centricity of MPS becoming more commoditised, leading vendors are extending beyond the office print environment to offer enhanced services around mobility, digitisation and the cloud. New opportunities exist to not only extend the scope of MPS engagements to encompass all aspects of enterprise printing (office, mobile, production and commercial), but also to improve performance and the top-line by outsourcing higher-value services such as IT operations and business processes.
The next generation
Perhaps the most significant opportunity for next generation MPS is the integration of paper and digital workflows. In Quocirca’s study, 72 percent of organisations indicated they are planning to increase their digitisation efforts as they extend their MPS contracts to encompass business process automation.
Indeed, those organisations that have expanded their MPS agreements beyond initial hardware consolidation are most the confident of their digitisation initiatives. While only nine percent of organisations not using MPS rated their ability to integrate paper and digital workflows as effective or very effective, this rose to 51 percent for those using MPS.
Quocirca expects this figure to climb over the next year, as more organisations move further along their MPS journey and begin the implementation of document workflow tools and business process optimisation. This, of course, is a key opportunity for MPS providers, who are typically experienced in the implementation of solutions to integrate paper and digital workflows – for instance, automating manual paper processes that are found in HR, accounting and finance.
Quocirca recommends businesses looking to better integrate their paper and digital business processes should look closely at the broader services that many leading MPS providers are now offering. While some organisations may consider business process optimisation as something to be implemented later in the MPS journey, it is increasingly paper-dependent processes that are being analysed at the outset, as part of the initial MPS assessment service.
So, how can next generation MPS have an impact across the enterprise? Key to a next generation MPS contract is joining up enterprise print and developing a strategy that supports mobility, security, cloud and digitisation. At the heart of this strategy is the advanced MFP, which can play a key role across these areas. These sophisticated devices are no longer peripherals, but can become part of an integrated information management strategy – including document capture, routing and archiving.
Within such an approach, security is of paramount importance as more organisations move to a shared print environment. With many users sharing the same device, it is much easier for confidential or sensitive information to fall into the wrong hands – either accidentally or maliciously. Quocirca research reveals that over 70 percent of organisations have suffered a data breach in relation to uncontrolled printing practices. An effective MPS engagement will ensure the implementation of secure print solutions with user authentication and user tracking.
As an extension of this, the ‘bring your own device’ phenomenon in the office means that the print infrastructure must extend to the mobile worker. While tablets are now commonly used to view and share documents as an alternative to printing, there is also a need to provide quick and flexible printing from mobile devices. Quocirca’s research reveals that there is certainly an appetite for mobile printing, with over 80 percent of respondents stating that their organisations would like to print from their mobile devices. To ensure mobile printing is accounted for, buyers should consider an MPS provider that offers mobile device management along with integrated solutions for secure mobile printing that can be tracked and managed through enterprise reporting tools.
Finally, business process automation is a vital consideration. Areas such as payroll, claims, mortgage processing and accounts payable are full of time-consuming, transaction-based tasks that can stifle productivity and innovation. Leading MPS providers offer business process services to automate and manage these tasks as part of wider MPS engagements, and can often leverage existing investments in MFPs by utilising sophisticated document capture and routing features. For instance, providing medical form processing directly from an MFP helps accelerate document capture and can digitise paper-based workflows into critical back-end healthcare applications.
The right provider
MPS providers include printer/copier manufacturers, systems integrators and managed IT service providers. As MPS evolves and companies increase their dependence on it, whatever a provider’s background, it’s important they can demonstrate their credibility across a range of capabilities. Quocirca recommends enterprises consider certain criteria when selecting a next generation MPS provider.
Firstly, a strong focus on improving customer performance is essential. In addition to helping customers improve the efficiency of their print infrastructure, leading MPS providers can help them drive transformation and increase employee productivity as well as supporting revenue growth. An MPS provider should understand the customer’s business and be able to advise them on solutions that can be implemented to improve business performance, extend capabilities and reach new markets.
Providers must also boast a broad portfolio of managed services. Many organisations may be using a variety of providers for their print and IT services. However, managing multiple service providers can be costly and complex. For maximum efficiency, look for a provider with a comprehensive suite of services that cover office and production printing, IT services and business process automation. As businesses look more to full service options for software implementation, consider MPS providers with strong expertise across both on-premise and cloud delivery models.
Consistent global service delivery with local support is an important consideration. Global delivery capabilities offer many advantages, including rapid implementation in new locations and the ability to effectively manage engagements across multiple countries. However, it’s also important that a provider has local resources with knowledge of the relevant regulatory and legal requirements. » Check whether an MPS provider uses standard delivery processes across all locations and how multi-location teams are organised and collaborate.
Also important is an attitude of proactive, continuous improvement. An MPS provider must go beyond a break/fix model to offer proactive and pre-emptive support and maintenance. As well as simple device monitoring, they should offer advanced analytics that can drive proactive support and provide visibility into areas for ongoing improvement.
Related to this, providers should also demonstrate strong multi-vendor support. Most print infrastructures are heterogeneous environments, comprising hardware and software from a variety of vendors, so MPS providers should have proven experience of working in multi-vendor environments. A true vendor-agnostic MPS provider should play the role of trusted technology advisor, helping an organisation select the technologies that best support their business needs. Independent MPS providers should also have partnerships with a range of leading vendors, giving them visibility of product roadmaps and emerging technologies.
Businesses will always want to engage with MPS in a variety of different ways. Some may want to standardise with a single vendor’s equipment and software, while others may prefer multivendor environments. Some may want a provider to take full control of their print infrastructure while others may only want to hand over certain elements. And some may want to mix new technology with existing systems so they can continue to leverage past investments. Leading MPS providers offer flexible services that are able to accommodate such specific requirements. Flexible procurement and finance options are also key, with pricing models designed to allow for changing needs.
Organisations are facing increased accountability demands from shareholders, regulators and other stakeholders. In turn, they are demanding greater accountability from their MPS providers. A key differentiator for leading MPS providers is ensuring strong governance of MPS contracts, acting as a trusted, accountable advisor, making recommendations on the organisation’s technology roadmap. MPS providers must be willing to meet performance guarantees through contractual SLAs, with financial penalties for underperformance. They should also understand the controls needed to meet increasingly complex regulatory requirements.
Hand-in-hand with this goes full service transparency. Consistent service delivery is built on consistent processes that employ a repeatable methodology. Look for access to secure, web-based service portals with dashboards that provide real-time service visibility and flexible reporting capabilities. Leading MPS providers, furthermore, should demonstrate innovation. This may include implementing emerging technologies and new best practices, and continually working to improve service delivery and reduce costs. Choose a partner with a proven track record of innovation. Consider how a prospective MPS provider can contribute to a company’s innovation and business transformation strategy. Bear in mind that innovation within any outsourcing contract may come at a premium – this is where gain-sharing models may be used.
The bottom line
The bar is being raised in terms of what businesses expect from their MPS providers. The original benefits of MPS have not lost their appeal. Cost-saving and improved efficiency still matter, but these are now standard expectations. Next generation MPS is no longer simply about reducing costs through better device consolidation, but about continuous business improvement through the implementation of broader document workflow solutions. MPS customers now expect innovation, industry expertise, customised solutions and a commitment to continuous improvement from their providers.
The enhanced expectations that clients have of their MPS providers are increasingly more ambitious than ever and business innovation is becoming a key priority. The road may get bumpier for those MPS providers who do not offer the industry-specific knowledge business transformation demands.
Those providers that can support innovation and are able to offer industry-specific business insight will be best positioned to help their MPS customers drive greater business value and sustained long-term performance into the future.