5 min read

What is Managed Print Services?

What is Managed Print Services?

Did you know that for the vast majority of organizations, print is the third-highest controllable cost on their books? It may come as a surprise — a single black and white copy usually costs between one or three cents on a dollar. But, as ancient wisdom dictates, a single drop doesn’t believe itself to be responsible for the flood.

In more concrete terms, print costs can quickly get out of hand due to one variable: the employees who work at the office. Why? Because of something I refer to as “the dish soap theory.”


Dish soap theory dictates that the last quarter of a bottle of soap will last twice as long as the other three quarters of its contents. When a resource is plentiful, our brains like to use a lot of it; it’s only when that resource becomes scarce that we begin to use it more sparingly.

You can visually determine how much soap is in a bottle; you cannot easily look at a copier and determine how much paper is in its trays, or how much toner is in its cartridges.

And even when a warning pops up on a copier’s display notifying an employee that the paper is low, or the toner is depleted, there’s very little to worry about. More often than not, there is another ream of paper, or another toner cartridge ready to go. Besides, the cost of maintaining a copier isn’t the responsibility of an employee — it’s up to your organization.

Essentially, employees commoditize their copier and the resources it uses to function.


Before you can control a cost, you must first be able to measure it. This is the backbone of all of managed print software and services; knowing what is being printed, where it was printed, how it was printed, and who printed it.

Managed print platforms do this by managing the following:

  • Cost
  • Behavior
  • Hardware
  • Supply

Depending on the tier of managed print services you use, the level of managing those four factors can vary.

Traditionally, managed print services simply referred to automated toner replacement. Essentially, software would keep an eye on a copier’s toner levels, and when they reached a certain threshold, the software would automatically alert the organization responsible for that copier’s service. Then, replacement toner would be sent, ensuring no downtime due to lack of toner.

Today, this is a portion the benefits your organization can expect from managed print services. Below, you can find the four tiers of managed print services (keep in mind that these tiers are additive):

  1. Base tier: Simple managed print services provide you with a platform that allows you to view the entirety of your copier’s levels and usage. In this basic tier, however, you can only record information. While this can provide you with excellent insight into why your organization’s print costs are so high, there is very little you can do to improve the situation beyond speaking to departments and employees with the hope that they change their printing habits.
  2. Second tier: This is the aforementioned “keeping an eye on toner levels” example. While this provides the ease of never having to worry about ordering supplies, like the first tier, it does little to help manage the cost associated with printing, and the behavior that causes those high costs.
  3. Third tier: This level of print management provides your copier with the ability to automatically send error reports to your service provider. This covers the gamut of printer problems, from system to mechanical, such as a paper jam, low paper levels, or a fuser roller being low. While this may seem like an insignificant feature, it helps to decrease the amount of time it takes your service provider to fix your copier. This feature is excellent at preventing downtime during critical business hours.
  4. Fourth tier: This is the highest level of print management, and provides you with statistics and customized reports that show any changes within your print fleet. This level of print management also breaks down your reports by department, or even individuals and their print habits. Using this data, you can set rules such as automatically printing in black and white, or automatically printing to the most cost-effective device.

Essentially, what managed print services do is provide you with insight into your printer fleet, the numbers behind your bills, the use of consumables, technical management, and potential business opportunities.


The word “cost” can mean a lot of different things. In the case of business, cost boils down to three distinct factors: time, resources, and money.

Managed print services have the potential to decrease your organization’s overall costs by influencing all three of those factors; managing your copiers takes less time, your print software reduces waste, which ends up saving you money. In fact, check out our Coffee with Cobb episode, Getting a Handle on Print Costs with uniFLOW: A Case Study to see how we saved one organization $60,000 by simply managing their prints.

I have a favorite saying; “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” I like to take it a step further when on the topic of Managed Print Services by adding, “You can’t change what you can’t control.”

Out of all the benefits of managed print services, there is one that stands out due to its direct and easily-perceivable impact: rules.

Managed print services allow you to set network-wide or department specific rules, like automatically printing in black and white, or duplex printing. Let’s face it — the devil is in the details, and computers are much better at recognizing the small things that we are.

Let’s imagine, for instance, that an employee has been told to only print in black and white. They need to print out a document, and all of the text is in black. So, there shouldn’t be any issue, right? Well, on paragraph ten, there was a hyperlink signified by a little blue line under a string of words. Because of that half-an-inch-long, width of a hair blue line, that page is now printed in color, increasing that page’s cost by up to six times its original cost.

In a perfect world, that employee would have the time to scan the document for hyperlinks before printing it out. However, business often moves at a pace where this wouldn’t be feasible.

With managed print services, you can easily prevent this from happening simply by instating a rule that says, “prints from the accounting department only print using black toner.” These rules can be made as granular as you’d like depending on the level of print management you use.

The other major benefit to managed print services is the amount of time it gives back to employees who have become bogged down managing a copier, when that is not the main function of their position.

Take, for instance, an employee who works in your IT department. There is a push for them to implement and new project, but at least once an hour they receive a call on the help desk about a printer. What brings more value to the company — that employee working on their project, or spending time slogging through printer errors they weren’t trained on how to fix?

This is why it’s not only important to make use of print management software like uniFLOW or PaperCut — it’s just as important to partner with a service provider who can manage your print environment for you.

When your employees have more time to spend doing what they were hired to do, you have more opportunities to make your business grow.


There are a lot of print management software options out there — and there are even more special features made available through those platforms.

While any print management software is better than none, there are a few that rise above the rest. The print management software we’ll highlight here is PaperCut, for a few reasons listed below:

  1. PaperCut has a high number of free options
  2. PaperCut works in almost any print environment
  3. PaperCut provides you with a high level of insight while remaining brand agnostic

If you have any questions about what would best fit your print environment, we can help. Reach out to us here.

Questions about print management?

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