Whether staff is in charge of kindergarteners on their first day or college kids heading into their senior year, managing educational institutions can seem like herding cats sometimes. School staff have enough on their plate; dealing with printing contracts shouldn’t be a concern looming over their head.
But with schools spending a massive portion of their budget on print solutions, administrators have to consider these numbers. The problem is that cutting costs in this department is difficult to do without the knowledge and expertise needed. Step one towards finding savings is understanding the challenges that educational institutions face and how managed print services for schools can help. Then, the next step is to turn to a professional to ensure your MPS company is doing its job correctly and not overcharging your school.
Managed Print Services for Schools
Printing management for schools involves utilizing services and software to help coordinate the entire printing process for an educational institution, such as keeping information secure, collecting data on printing practices, and maintaining and replacing hardware.
Many schools or universities opt for working with a managed print services (MPS) provider. MPS companies are meant to optimize printing solutions by creating a systematic approach to your school’s printing fleet and networks. Theoretically, the goal is to lower printing costs through tools and software. However, many of these MPS providers work on behalf of the companies that sell printing products and may not always have lowering costs as their top priority.
Challenges in Educational Printing
Compared to other businesses, there are unique challenges that school printing networks can face. Most schools will burn through millions of pages of paper in a school year, which is a significant expense. While many schools are attempting to move towards more digital solutions, there are many instances where hard paper copies are still preferred or even required.
For now, it’s impossible for schools to become 100 percent paperless. Since access to printers is usually available to teachers, staff, and students, schools are bound to have issues with printing. Some education printing-specific problems include:
- High volume: School printing is often intensive or high-volume, with teachers printing thick stacks of study materials and students using solid colors for projects. This can slow networks, wear down hardware, and reduce printing speeds.
- Broken printers: Teachers and administrative staff don’t have time to fix jammed or broken printers between breaks. With so many different people using the machines at once, breakdowns are common and inconvenient.
- Uncollected documents: When an entire school network is directing their education printing to one copy room, or worse, printers spread throughout the school, it’s normal that people can’t find or forget to collect their documents. This creates paper waste and excess costs on supplies that weren’t even used.
- Unauthorized printing: Students will use unmonitored access to printers for personal projects or copying needs like birthday party invitations, printing pictures, or making copies of their faces. Even teachers and admin may be using the copiers for non-authorized uses, which costs schools money.
- Outdated equipment: When schools purchase copiers instead of renting them, they can become old and obsolete quickly. With technology advancing as fast as it is today, an old copier may become completely useless in a matter of years.
- Connection issues: Students and teachers are relying more and more on using personal laptops, tablets, or other devices to complete school projects or work. Printing for schools requires the ability to connect from a variety of brands and types of devices.
What to Look For in Managed Print Services for Schools
If your school does opt for an MPS provider, there are certain attributes you’ll want to make sure they offer that are particularly important for school printing. For a school to justify paying for MPS, the provider needs to address the above issues and create more cost-effective and streamlined print solutions for schools. When shopping around for an MPS provider, look into what services they offer in the following areas:
- Data security and FERPA compliance: Any server responsible for handling sensitive documents should be trustworthy and secure, but schools have additional guidelines to consider. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) has strict regulations that require schools to safeguard student records. Check with potential MPS providers to see how they will implement data safety protocols when managing school printing solutions.
- Serverless printing: Eliminating servers will save the school money and enable printing directly from workstations. This means you’ll have no bulky, physical servers needed to run your school printing. Changing to serverless printing solutions for schools also means you’ll have simplified management, better security, and more flexibility.
- Integration: Most schools probably don’t have the budget to overhaul their entire printing fleet at one time. So, if you’re changing MPS providers, it’s important to make sure their print management software for schools can integrate with the equipment you already have on-site. Look at your school’s specific needs and see what the MPS can offer you to solve your problems.
- Maintenance: One of the main reasons to turn to MPS companies to help with school printing solutions is repairs and maintenance. With breakdowns as a major concern for educational institutes, the MPS provider you choose must handle both repairs and technical support in a timely fashion.
- Tracking and reporting: In order to continue to monitor printing efficiencies, it’s essential to track, analyze, and report usage to find ways to lower costs. Ensure that the print management software for schools that a potential MPS provider offers includes solutions to turn data into savings.
- Adaptable solutions: When adding new equipment to your printing fleet, these devices must easily function with new and future technologies such as mobile and server-based pull printing. Mobile printing allows students to print from any device, and pull printing guarantees that only the individual who printed materials can access them from the printer. These functions are relatively new, and who knows what exciting new tech will be released soon to make education printing even more efficient. Schools should ensure that their MPS provider utilizes machines that can continue to adapt to next-gen features.
The Drawbacks of Working with MPS Providers
While MPS providers can potentially offer a lot of value for school printing solutions, working with them has a few downsides. For example, these companies often bundle their services, meaning schools pay for functions that don’t necessarily benefit them. In addition, some MPS providers may charge for services that should be included at no additional cost.
Another thing to be wary of when shopping around for an MPS to help with printing solutions for schools is their pricing tactics. There can be a lack of transparency even within the same company, where one salesperson offers a totally different price than another. In addition, different MPS companies have distinct payment structures, and it can be hard to compare one to the other effectively.
Plus, these companies are trying to make money at the end of the day. If you’re not careful when shopping around for an MPS provider, you may not actually save money. While some pay-per programs look promising, schools could end up paying more than they would to lease the copiers and pay for supplies.
How Schools Can Reduce Managed Print Services Costs
Many schools work with an MPS company, but some may work directly with manufacturers or a regional dealer. Regardless of who handles your print management services, monitoring your contracts and billing is essential to ensure you’re operating in the most cost-efficient manner. Unfortunately, this can be challenging for schools due to a lack of knowledge and expertise.
The best way for schools to handle this aspect of vendor relations is to allow a third-party such as P3 Cost Analysts to step in and help reduce their managed print services costs. P3 can bring your school tons of savings in different ways during an MPS audit.
- Optimize leasing agreements: Whether you’re just shopping around for your school’s first MPS provider or looking to change companies, shopping around and conducting proper comparisons can be confusing. Each company has a different pricing structure, and contracts can contain confusing language. P3 will ensure you fully understand the differences in payment structures between companies and get the best offerings available.
- Consolidate contracts: Over time, schools can build up a collection of contracts with multiple vendors, making it even more difficult to keep track of each one, their expiration dates, and the monthly invoices. Schools can save on education printing by buying or leasing in bulk through one vendor. However, it’s challenging to get out of print contracts early. By letting P3 handle contract consolidation for you, we can address the many roadblocks that stand in your way.
- Ensure services: On top of fighting to save your school money on print management services, P3 will ensure that your provider delivers the services you need. The industry benchmark is one full-time service provider per one million pages produced, but often schools don’t realize this should be negotiated into contracts.
- Uncover billing errors: Getting initial contracts squared away is only half the battle. With managed print services, it’s crucial to continue to audit your invoices for billing discrepancies. P3 offers a detailed report that outlines errors and overcharges and shows exactly how we save costs for you. We will also evaluate each invoice to guarantee that you’re saving every penny possible.
How Much Can Schools Expect to Save?
School printing is an essential part of educational institutions that isn’t going away anytime soon. But real savings are possible, and P3 has helped many other businesses and organizations find those savings time and time again. On average, schools can expect to save between 30 and 40 percent on print by outsourcing their management services audit with P3. Plus, with no upfront fees, getting control over your school printing solutions won’t cost you a thing.
We will help you optimize your lease agreements, consolidate contracts, correct billing mistakes, and save your school money on managed print expenses. If you’re ready to get your print solutions running more efficiently and cut costs for your school, schedule a free expense audit with one of our print experts today.