Printers are hardly advanced technology these days. Most people have them at home, often with the added ability to scan, copy, and even fax. Why, then, would a company, even a startup, outsource this service? While this may seem like an inconvenient or expensive waste of time and resources, at the professional level, printing services are more complicated and pricier than you might think. Outsourcing can significantly increase functionality, service quality, and other key elements of the printing process.
Basic Vs. Business Printing
When choosing a printer or a printing service for a small business, there are a number of key factors you’ll want to consider. A good printer-copier combo, even on a rent-to-own plan, can keep up with just about any company’s printing volume, but if you need to do a lot of high-end printing, even a top of the line printer may not be enough. Between the costs and the need to upgrade the printer regularly, you’ll likely dig your business into a hole in the name of quality, when outsourcing the service would be less expensive.
Outsourcing printing services isn’t the same as outsourcing your bookkeeping needs – you aren’t just handing over the job to be done elsewhere. Of course, that is an option; it’s usually more cost efficient to pass mass print jobs like flyer printing to a specialty company rather than wasting time and resources on such a job in-house. But, in addition to shifting where you do your printing, small businesses also have the option to outsource who manages their printing.
Managed print services (MPS) are increasingly popular with small businesses because they fill a major IT need, not just a basic equipment one. In keeping with other types of managed IT services used for system security and recovery, MPS allows businesses to embrace outside expertise for a technical task. Indeed, printers are now part of business’s security system; they’re connected and they need to be secured. MPS simplifies this responsibility.
In addition to the security advantages of MPS, research into these services suggests that even small organizations can save money by shifting print management. This comes as a result of reduced time and financial investments into purchasing and supplies, as well efficiency improvements based on MPS analysis and modifications to the printer fleet. It’s a powerful proposition, yet one that can help your company feel like it’s still in control of its printing services.
The Sharing Model
Outsourcing and MPS both have their advantages, but perhaps the most influential element changing how small businesses print is the growth of the sharing economy. Yes, businesses have always been able to rent printer-copiers, rather than buying them outright, but with the explosion of coworking spaces like WeWork (despite its recent struggles), owners and employees alike feel more comfortable releasing control of infrastructure and equipment. If anything, many feel that sharing space and equipment makes them more flexible. They can scale and shift with the economy and customer demand.
Most businesses don’t have the funding to buy a printer worth its salt when they’re first getting started, so finding other resources is to your advantage. Once you’ve bought in to an outsourced printing option, you may discover that you don’t miss owning that bulky old machine after all.