There’s an old proverb that describes how a foolish builder constructs his house’s foundation on sand. When the rain comes, water rises and winds blow, the house falls with a great crash. However, a wise builder constructs his house’s foundation on solid rock, ensuring the longevity and steadfastness of his construction.

The foundation of any managed print outsourcing engagement is the initial print environment assessment. Done correctly, the assessment serves as a strong foundation and a springboard for future cost savings and workflow optimization. Done wrong, or not done at all, your managed print services (MPS) outsourcing engagement is unstable, unreliable and left to chance—the equivalent of building your foundation on sand.

The solution is simple. Build your foundation on solid rock—a proper assessment. In doing so, you mitigate risk, identify needs and streamline benefit realization.

So, what defines a proper managed print services assessment?

You can boil down a good MPS assessment into six steps. Your provider must:

A good managed print services assessment takes ALL the above aspects into account. While seemingly simple and tedious, this is the true foundation upon which you build your managed environment. The insights gained from the assessment fuel smart decision-making, which serves as the adhesive of your program. Only with a through, complete knowledge and understanding of the current environment, workflow trends and end user needs can a fully optimized strategy begin to develop.

How is this actually done? It is a best practice to integrate digital cloud analysis of the current environment, as well as a physical walk-through. Why? Because not all devices are online, meaning they will be missed with digital analysis. In modern business, data is king but needs to be supplemented with physical, primary analysis.

Another key aspect of the physical walk-through is gaining an understanding of the environment, which cannot be gained through software tools. For example, is there a significant amount of paper left in paper trays indicating "lost jobs," which can be reduced through follow-me printing or other job management tools? Or identifying boxes of toner stacked in closets, indicating an issue in supplies management and purchasing. There is no replacement for a physical walk-through. This is a critical step.

Be a wise builder, and make sure your managed print outsourcing engagement’s foundation is built on rock, not sand. In doing so, you are leaps and bounds ahead of those who don’t. Not only are you one step closer to utilizing the extra money and time saved from printing cost cuts and business process efficiency boosts, but you are one step farther away from being burned with an ineffective managed environment.

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.

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