What IS a Print Assessment?
Mon Oct 31, 2016 | Lasers Resource
If you're looking to lease, purchase, or enter into a managed print service (MPS) contract; everyone (including us) is hounding you to do a “print assessment.” Many of our current customers were initially confused about the assessment; just like you probably are.
In short, the print assessment allows us to walk through your office, talk to employees, track your actual print and copy totals, and identify what equipment you already have. Based on this information, we can then craft a plan specific to what you really need.
What's this look like in reality? Let's break the process into 4 steps and go into detail of what you can expect from a Print Assessment.
1. Review Current Deployment
The first step, as with any good project, is taking stock. A printing partner will look at what printers, multi-function printers (MFPs), copiers, scanners, etc. you already have in place. They will map out your imaging deployment and take a look at any workflows that are in place and the functionality of each device. Many times, the devices you already have can be used in a new managed print arrangement – if you have equipment that works, your MPS partner can incorporate that equipment into the plan. This can decrease costs because you don't have to buy or lease another piece of equipment. It comes down to what brands the managed partner can service and if the machine is expected to last for all or part of the agreement term.
2. Gather Data From Your Network
MPS partners will use a data collection program to get a better understanding of your printing fleet. A data collection program sits on your network and reports meter reads, supply levels, and how many pages are being printed on each device. The program that we use is called FM Audit, if you're curious about the software, click here to learn more about it. The point of this is to really understand how much is being printed on your devices and to be able to produce an educated recommendation that will be able to support the volume the users need. The software usually reports for anywhere between two weeks and two months during the assessment.
3. Location Assessment
We need to visit your office (or offices if you have multiple locations) to get the lay of the land. This step is often done while the audit software is doing its thing. That data review is analytical – lots of reports and spreadsheets that provide a window into the health of your fleet. That's important, but the location of your employees and devices is an equally important part of a managed print services engagement. As they say in real estate: location, location, location. Here's why we need to see the physical lay of the land, what we look for, and how we do it.
3.1 Where Are All of the Printers and Copiers
During a site assessment, your account manager and a member of the service team will go to every one of your printers and copiers and look at the environment it is in. Are there other printers nearby? Does the copier have additional attachments – a finisher, extra trays, etc? They'll review the pages each device prints per month and if the device is used heavily for scanning.
3.2 End User Interviews
After the account manager has reviewed the physical device, they will find one or more end-users in the area and ask them a few questions about it. A few of those are:
- How often do you print?
- What type of documents do you print?
- Do you print color?
This is to gain an understanding of how the device is actually used and to make sure there wasn’t anything overlooked that would hurt or hinder the users.
3.3 Customer Interview
This is a higher-level interview normally done with IT and other members with a seat at the buying table (more on this in the next step). This person (or group) has final say on approving the engagement and/or will have a part to play if the engagement continues. In the customer interview, the key contacts exchange:
- Contact information
- Discuss role requirements
- Supplies fulfillment
- Service expectations
- Your company's technical infrastructure
- Software that is in place or needed
These and other topics are covered to ensure there are no surprises during deployment or fleet take over.
4. The Buying Table: Who Needs to Be Involved
Print assessments can be a long and labor-intensive process when there are many machines and high volumes of printed output. But with the right people doing the right things at the right time, they can be a breeze (well, at least bearable!). The MPS provider doing the assessment should have the right people involved, those include:
- The sales account manager
- A member of operations, normally a service technician
- Members of management (Head of sales, Head of operations, President of the company).
These members from the MPS provider are needed to ensure a speedy report of findings and to make sure nothing gets overlooked. With all hands on deck, the process goes faster and with minimal hiccups.
Certain members from your organization are required as well, or greatly encouraged to be part of the process:
- The director of IT
- IT support members
- A member of finance/CFO
- A member from operations
A print assessment does not live in IT or in purchasing alone, it is a process that requires input for every department that will use the equipment. Normally these members of your company have a final say in the agreement, it is best to bring them into the process as soon as possible. This can cut down or eliminate red flags later in the process, make sure everyone is on board and gives the ability to answer questions as they come up and continue to keep the process moving forward and staying on schedule. A member of your legal team is sometimes appropriate in the assessment stage. They can wrap their heads around the type of service that will be provided and request any documentation they require early.
I hope this gives you a better understanding of what a print assessment is and helps to prepare for one. A thorough print assessment will set you on the path to a successful managed print services engagement. Once it's over, you'll know all of the devices you have in place, we'll be able to provide you recommendations on how to move forward and, most importantly, you'll know how much it costs you to print (broken down in a variety of ways – by device, by output type, by department, etc.) – a cost many companies are in the dark about.
Ready to have a print assessment or are looking for more information? Reach out to us and we can help!
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