Since the Titanic met its legendary and tragic fate in 1912, icebergs have become a metaphor for hidden masses—ready to crush anyone who dares underestimate their threat. For businesses today, unmanaged print services are a similar (albeit less threatening) example of the same principle.
As Ken Thibault, HP director of indirect managed print services said, “Whenever I start a discussion about printing services, I usually talk about the fabled iceberg. What most customers see in their print environment is the 10 percent above the surface. But what will kill you lies in the 90 percent below the waterline—the inefficiences and waste you aren’t even aware of.”
One of Thibault’s responsibilities at HP is working with customers to manage their print services needs. Over the course of his career, he’s witnessed the important role robust print services play in keeping businesses as productive and efficient as possible. And in most cases, more than productivity is at stake.
Unmanaged—and underestimated—print services
“Before I worked at HP, I was at a small business, where we spent the entire weekend generating a proposal for a large government contract,” Thibault said. “It was 3:00 a.m., and we were trying to get the package on a Delta Dash flight at 6:00 a.m. when we ran out of toner. Nobody knew where or how to acquire another toner cartridge at that juncture. We almost missed the chance to bid on a multimillion dollar contract—which is key to the fortune of a small business—just because we ran out of toner.”
Thibault said he sees far too many businesses underestimating the costs involved in keeping printer systems up and running. A vast majority (1 in 10) don’t even have a firm grasp on the devices connected to their network. And that lack of knowledge can end up costing them dearly. Let’s take a look at four pain points businesses could avoid with better print management.
1. Free up IT
When something goes amiss with a printer, the first impulse is to turn to IT. Thibault said IT help desks spend 15–20 percent of their time addressing printing issues, adding to their pipeline and slowing down their capacity to address other issues. And this slows down the productivity of the organization, overall. How can IT innovate if they’re busy putting out fires?
“With managed print services, the IT help desk can focus on where their skills should be focused—on strategic tasks, like migrating new software integrations or working on server efficiency,” Thibault said. “This drives efficiency with them and better productivity and user satisfaction.”
2. Secure all entry points
A recent study from the Ponemon Institute revealed that printers are a prime security risk. Sixty percent of IT security practitioners surveyed acknowledged that a data breach involving a network-connected printer has likely occurred and predict one will occur in the next 12 months. Many people do not realize that printers are endpoints, just like PCs, and they need to be equally protected. Printers have hard drives, processors, and operating systems, after all.
“I’ve heard so many anecdotes about printers being the Achilles’ heel or Trojan Horse used to gain unauthorized network access,” Thibault said. “A sound managed print services strategy must include security, and that starts at the hardware level. By placing the most secure devices on the network, you are then able to follow up with solutions that ensure consistent application of security policies and appropriate access to confidential or sensitive data.”
Security breaches can cost businesses millions of dollars to remediate. They’re also disruptive, because workers may need to stop what they’re doing and dedicate time to address the breach. Managed print services keep breaches at bay and workflows humming along.
3. Never run out of materials
Printers require upkeep to ensure toner, ink, fuses, and other materials remain in working order. Running out of these supplies is frustrating at best and, as Thibault experienced, catastrophic at worst. Let’s say the toner runs out in an office printer: An employee needs to waste their time tracking down the toner (which isn’t always easy), installing it, or finding someone else to do it. This process is time consuming and disruptive to the work day—even more so if there’s no toner in the office.
Managed print services help organizations reduce or eliminate printer supplies and toner inventory while ensuring those components arrive at the printer just in time, before the business encounters printer down time. “A managed print service provider will run predictive analytics on machines, so when a toner cartridge is down to 10 percent, we’re already shipping a new cartridge or a technician will show up to install it before workers become concerned about running out and elect to do it themselves. It ensures business continuity,” Thibault explained.
4. Automate document delivery
Today, most offices have printers at the end of aisles or in central locations. And according to Thibault, 40–50 percent of those pages sent to network or group printers are forgotten, resulting in huge unnecessary costs. Lost jobs are also common, which forces employees to run around searching for their prints or printing a second time—yet again wasting minutes and money. Instead of going back to work or accomplishing their tasks, they’re forced to figure out what went wrong with the printer. Managed print services help documents get to where they need to be, when they need to be there.
“In an unmanaged, ‘non-workflow’ situation, I’d print an invoice, and if there were three people who needed a copy of that invoice, I’d physically walk it around to them,” Thibault said. “There is the additional possibility of human error in that scenario. When you institute a managed print workflow, you can send that file to an email inbox, a printer, a fax machine, or whatever is required to complete the documentation process across all parties. A managed print environment incorporates secured, managed document processes, ensuring jobs are not lost and that they end up in the right hands.”
The best way to avoid getting sunk by the iceberg of network printers? Adopt a managed print services plan. There are plenty of productivity-detractors out there—don’t let your printers be one of them.