You have likely heard time and again about the benefits a managed print service engagement can bring to your organization. Outsourcing your print and document process should undoubtedly save you money and time and cut back on environmental waste. The key word being “should.” However, many organizations do not know what they should expect from their providers and are often short-changed during the negotiation and implementation process. These organizations end up with costly fleets, poorly managed environments and unsatisfied users.

So, how do you know if you are getting the best offering? Make sure your provider is including these absolutely critical elements in the process and contract.

1. Assess
You need an assessment. This sounds obvious, but it is often overlooked. A managed print engagement isn’t an “off-the-shelf” product. This is a customized solution that is unique to your environment. This personalization can only be achieved through on-site assessment of your current environment. The vendor must identify the number of devices, how they are being utilized and end user requirements. Photizo recommends getting an independent, third-party assessment in addition to vendor assessments, and the assessment should not be a one-time thing. The vendor you choose should regularly assess your environment, as it is likely fluid and your needs will change.

2. Consolidation of billing structure
It’s so hard to quantify the vast cost of unmanaged printing. Did you know if you have 200 employees, they are costing you $145,000 a year in printing? The costs are spread across a number of areas of business within corporations. Aside from obvious costs, add to that infrastructure, maintenance and support. According to Xerox, 351 items contribute to your company’s total cost of printing. It is vital to fully understand the costs of printing and where your money is being spent, or wasted.

3. Centralization of decision-making
A major benefit of a managed print engagement is taking a segmented function of your business and consolidating it into a simple, streamlined process. Along with the consolidation of billing, you need to consolidate the decision-making around your engagement to eliminate unnecessary barriers from too many decision makers.

4. Rightsizing considerations
While your fleet may not need to be downgraded, it is important to do a full assessment of the functionality of all the devices within your environment. This should go hand-in-hand with the initial assessment. Rightsizing is more than taking devices away. It is ensuring that everyone has access to the devices with the features necessary to do their jobs. Many vendors will propose removing all of your current devices and replacing them with their preferred brands. Be cautious. If your equipment is outdated, the supplies are more expensive, and it will cost you significantly more. Your vendor may be acting in your best interest, but also remember, your vendor likely gets a commission on every new piece of equipment placed in your office. So, it is in their best interest (and not often yours) to push as much new equipment as possible. If you are unsure, get a second opinion.

5. Fleet monitoring
It is critical to have printed pages actively monitored for billing purposes. In addition, device usage and supply level monitoring is essential to ongoing management and optimized workflow. Remote monitoring is an industry standard and should be offered by your vendor. This sends your vendor an alert whenever one of your devices has an error, is damaged or needs attention.

6. Reporting
Reporting of device usage and maintenance is critical to understand how your fleet is being managed and used. Monitoring should be made available to internal management personnel to ensure that things are running smoothly and efficiently. Blindly trusting that your fleet is optimized is never advised.

7. Help desk
It is important to have access to active support. Problems are sure to occur, and the ability to assess those problems and quickly identify solutions is key in our fast-paced world.

8. Change management training
An effective managed print engagement goes beyond traditional managed print services. It is essential to receive formal training to help your company transition and adopt the change from managed print outsourcing. Over 70% of change initiatives fail. However, with active management, you can eliminate the risk and align internal objectives and culture with the infrastructure change.

9. Document workflow or business process consulting
In addition to learning how to manage the change from the transition to an outsourced managed print engagement, it is important to understand how to optimize document workflow and business processes. Through optimization, you can go beyond cost savings and become more efficient and effective overall.

10. Service-level agreement
It is important to define certain parameters when engaging in managed print outsourcing. To ensure smooth program execution that is satisfactory to both of you and your service provider, the formal identification of expectations is advised. Best practices include identifying definitions of program success, metrics to which that will be measured, responsibilities and expectations from both parties, problem management policies and grounds for contract termination.

Outsourcing the management of your printing is a major initiative that can bring great benefits to your company. However, without due diligence, the results you actually achieve could fall short of your goals. This checklist helps cut the risk and ensure the realization of those benefits.

Edward Crowley has more than 30 years of experience in the high-tech industry and is the president and CEO of Photizo Group, a global consulting and market intelligence firm. Learn more about managed print outsourcing or follow Mr. Crowley on Twitter @PhotizoGroup.