When it comes to a managed print service (MPS), it’s important to understand that one size most definitely doesn’t fit all. With different sized businesses in different industries, all with their own individual goals, providers know that they need to work closely with prospective customers to create a bespoke solution that meets their specific requirements.
Any managed print service supplier will provide a contract or SLA (service level agreement) to outline all of the “terms and conditions” before any work is delivered. This document sets out the services you (the customer) requires, the services that the MPS supplier agrees to provide, how they will be managed and measured, and the responsibilities of both parties throughout.
Providers deliver their services in accordance with this document, so it’s important. Service response times, the frequency of support or preventative maintenance visits and many other key performance indicators (KPIs) are agreed beforehand and outlined within it, so that customers are clear on what they will get from the service and how they will benefit. Much of the value of a contract derives from the two-way dialogue that is required to create it…so, don’t ever be afraid to ask questions.
Below, we’ve outlined some of the things you should cover in your RFP (request for proposal) or in any discussions with potential suppliers before signing a contract/SLA…
Hopefully there will be no issues, but if something does go wrong with any printer or device that’s covered by a managed print service, you want to rest assured it’ll be rectified quickly and easily. When you invite a supplier to tender, you may wish to ask questions such as:
- What’s the process if an issue arises?
- How long would it take for you to respond?
- Would you attempt to fix an issue remotely first (if applicable)?
- How quickly would you send an engineer?
- What is the average time for resolving an issue?
As a business, you naturally want to minimise downtime and avoid disruption, so you need to agree suitable response times that are realistic for both you and your provider.
A print service is only as good as its engineers, don’t you think? A supplier’s support team and response time might win you over, but you also need to feel assured that you’re in reliable hands with the engineer who’s dealing with the issue. In your RFP, we would recommend asking whether the company’s engineers are specialists in the brand of device that they are offering you; if most parts are carried by the engineer on their first visit; and how many engineers they have available in your area at any given time.
Accreditation and partnerships
Any established or reputable managed print service provider should have credentials or accreditations awarded by external bodies, who have evaluated their quality and ethical business practices. Accreditations might include: ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001, Cyber Essentials or Safecontractor. If a prospective service provider cannot demonstrate any of these sufficient industry standards, then you might want to consider speaking to an alternative supplier who can.
Another important question to ask is about the partnerships the MPS supplier has with any manufacturers or software providers, like we have with Canon.
Printers, just like cars and other machines, require attention throughout their whole lifecycle to ensure they are kept in working order. It does therefore stand to reason that you will need to expect an incremental increase year-on-year to maintain your office printers or MFPs. Make sure you know what this increase is likely to be and when you can expect it to happen.
Also, double check that the provider is offering you a flexible contract that can be updated or amended if and when required. This may be needed if any aspect of the service is modified during the contract – such as adding additional print devices, configuring new software to the print infrastructure or adjusting the levels of support.
Document security and data privacy
With printers and MFPs becoming more connected than ever before, document security and data privacy is now a vital part of any managed print service. Any provider should be able to give you in-depth detail on how they keep data secure and the levels of security that are put in place. Some questions worth asking in relation to document security and data privacy could include asking for details of the security features that are available with any hardware solution or information on how the solution will help your business comply with the GDPR, which remains a concern for many organisations.
Read, read, read!
Last but by no means least, it’s an obvious thing to say, but always read every single word of a contract or SLA…including any small print! If there is anything at all you’re not sure about or any element of it that raises a red flag – question it. It’s your responsibility to make sure you are happy and comfortable with the service you’re signing up for.
At BTS we offer bespoke solutions, which enables us to meet the needs of any business. The clearer you are about your specific requirements and exactly what you are trying to achieve, the more likely you are to reap the benefits! Our team is ready to answer any questions you may have, so get in touch today and find out everything you need to know about our services and how they can help you meet your business goals.