Is Managed Print Services Right for Your School? (Pros and Cons)  

Submitted by Karla Metzler on Wed, 04/20/2022 - 07:04
Students raising their hands in a classroom with the teacher at the front

One thing almost all schools have in common is their need for high-volume printing. 

To fulfill their schooling requirements, teachers must print curriculums, assignments and any other documents that encompass the educational environment.  

All this printing and copying comes with a price; a very large price that can unnecessarily contribute to over expenditures on your school’s budget.      

Being in the printer/copier industry for over 35 years, we’ve learned all too well how difficult it is to manage a large printer fleet by yourself. For schools, excess printing costs can contribute thousands of dollars extra to your monthly print invoice.        

That’s why we’ll be leaning on our managed print expertise to provide you with an objective analysis of what a managed print service (MPS) is, the pros and cons of managed print and a real example of how incorporating MPS helped a school reduce its printer footprint and save on their monthly bill.      

Before getting into the article, there are a few things we must go over first to make sure you don’t get the wrong idea about what managed print services can do.      

One, managed print services will not be for everybody. We will go over this in more detail later on, but MPS will not be for smaller companies that print at a low volume and don’t manage a fleet of machines.     

Secondly, even if your school wants to implement MPS, you may not be eligible for some print vendors’ managed print services. We will touch on this more in the first section of this piece, but some print vendors require a minimum number of machines to even consider adding managed print for a customer.     

Lastly, this blog is not meant to be a mouthpiece for managed print; there are limitations to MPS and it is not going to be a fit for every school district. You will learn about those in addition to the benefits that come along with the service.   

Banner image via U.S. Department of State.     

What Are Managed Print Services?   

The exact definition of managed print services can change depending on who you talk to, but in general, a managed print service allows you to pay a monthly payment to have one source manage your entire fleet. This includes supplies, service, a direct point of contact and one invoice for all your printing-related expenses.         

The parameters of MPS will vary depending on the managed print service you go with, but generally speaking, MPS can:        

  • Automatically ship your supplies, such as toner, whenever supply is low.    

  • Provide on-site service from technicians whenever issues arise with your machines.    

  • Offer analysis and recommendations to better optimize your printer fleet.     

A managed print service is not always cut and dry on what they offer. Benefits and eligibility requirements will differ depending on which one you go with.        

For instance, some vendors require a minimum of 15 machines to implement a managed print service, and most do not include InkJet printers or non-networked devices as a part of the service.         

And to track employee printing behavior and set usage limits, you will normally have to purchase an external print management software, like Y-Soft or PaperCut.         

Read our blog defining managed print services to learn more.     

4 Pros of Managed Print Services        

There are four major benefits to investing in a managed print service for your school. Below are the four advantages of MPS in detail:      

  1. Cost Management and Control   

The most impactful thing managed print can do for your school is cut out extraneous printing expenses, which will save on your monthly and annual budget.   

There are multiple ways in which MPS works to save on your expenses. Here are a few of the main ways in detail:      

Auto-Toner Shipments     

One of the primary areas where MPS can cut printing expenses is by allowing for automatic shipments of the right toner at the right time.    

What does the “right toner” at the “right time” mean exactly?   

If you’re a school, you’re likely to maintain a vast number of printers from all different kinds of brands.       

Specific machines require specific supplies, meaning if you have an assortment of printers from different brands, you must find a particular kind of toner every time one of your printers is low on supplies.      

Say you designate an employee to keep track of toner levels and put them in charge of getting the supplies when necessary.      

If you manage 50 machines at your school district, how many hours a week would you guess that employee is spending on the toner issue? Two? Four?      

Whatever the number is, that time spent on printing supplies is taking away from more salient tasks that could better contribute to your school’s goals.       

Take away the three hours a week that your designated printer-supply employee spends on toner for your machines and what do you get?   

A cost-saving benefit, because now that employee has three more work hours a week to focus on school-specific tasks that can be more beneficial for revenue opportunities.  

The extra cost savings can then be spent on resources to achieve a better educational experience for students and faculty.     

It’s not just the time element that comes into play regarding the cost savings benefits of getting auto-toner shipments.      

If you’re managing 50 machines, your supply shelf is likely chock-full of ready-to-use toner and ink cartridges.   

How many of those cartridges will actually be used, though?   

If you’re like most schools, you’re going to overspend on toner because you over-purchased printing supplies to ensure you always had a substitute on hand, or you bought supplies for a specific machine that ultimately gets replaced, rendering the toner for the old machine useless.        

The result?      

Excessive money spent on supplies can be avoided with MPS because the source managing your fleet will automatically provide the correct toner in the right amount so you’re not spending money on supplies you don’t need.      

If you would like more information on auto-toner shipments, read these blogs:     


Many schools have machines from different companies; a couple of HP machines here, a few Brother printers there and a mix of copiers over there.       

Do you know who to contact if one of your printers breaks down and you need timely service work?       

Having to figure out which brand a certain machine is and trying to figure out what number to call for service can be difficult and time-consuming.       

Even if you find a technician, they can charge upwards of $100 an hour for printer repairs, and if you manage a fleet of over 15 machines, especially if they’re older machines, that can add up significantly over time.   

Service is included as a part of most managed print contracts and saves on not only the financial aspect of outsourcing for service but also the time it takes to find the right technicians for a certain machine.      

Both the price of outsourcing service and the time it takes to find the right technicians are respective cost-savings benefits that managed print can offer.   

One Invoice    

Oftentimes, schools with over 15 machines will have multiple print invoices to pay each month for supplies, service or other printing-related matters.    

MPS makes it so that you have one invoice a month, which is a cost-savings benefit in a way similar to the one regarding auto-toner shipments.      

Say the same employee who oversees printing supplies is also in charge of paying invoices.     

If you have to pay eight different print invoices a month, that’s going to take considerably longer than if you only had to pay one, right?    

A managed print contract narrows the number of invoices to one, which cuts down on the time it takes for an employee to consult and pay each vendor.      

This gives that employee more time to work on more important tasks, which can potentially be tasks that more greatly contribute to school goals and improvements.    

Print Tracking    

If you wanted to take managed print a step further, you could purchase one of the many external print management software to specify employee printing tasks and cut costs by setting function limits.    

This means employees can’t print or copy over a certain threshold. For instance, say you’re trying to cut back on print expenses next month. You could set a 1,000-page printing limit per user, and once that limit is reached, printing for the rest of that month will be disabled.    

Print tracking is especially important for schools that frequently print in color since color prints (around $0.07-$0.30 per print) cost more on average than black-and-white prints (around $0.01-$0.03 per print).       

To learn more about print management software, read these blogs:       

  1. Productivity and Availability      

The next MPS benefit revolves around asset optimization and having a single source of truth for all your printing needs.      

Let’s take a look at the productivity and availability benefits in a little more detail:      

Asset Optimization   

A managed print provider can figure out where your workhorse machines need to go, and which machines can be cut out altogether, to better optimize your printer investments.     

For example, if you’re a school that has a place where printing is most common, such as a library, but your best machine is located in the administration office, MPS can show you that moving the machine from the administration office to the library would be the most efficient way to get the most out of your printer investment.    

Furthermore, if you invested in 25 machines for your school, but only regularly use 15 of them, MPS can alert you to the low-usage machines that aren’t worth keeping anymore. This can not only open more space but also decrease monthly printing costs by cutting out the redundant machines entirely.   

There’s also the benefit of standardizing machines. As mentioned previously, companies that maintain lots of machines will usually have all sorts of different brands and models.     

Because printers are intricate machines that require specific supplies and services, having a wide variety of printers usually means you will have a difficult time finding well-timed assistance.     

Managed print providers can standardize your printer fleet by cutting down on the assortment of models you own and replacing them with a consistent brand/model so you’re not constantly having to worry about which machine takes which supplies.    

It also means that employees will be trained in just one brand/model of machines, which cuts out any confusion that may result from having to learn the layout of different-branded printers.      

Centralized Solution      

Investing in MPS also means you will have a centralized solution for all your printing concerns.      

If you have a problem with a machine, you have one number to call to get service assistance. If you ever have questions about supplies, you have one number to call. If you have a general printing-related question, you have one number to call.      

This is particularly important for service issues. As discussed in the cost section, outsourcing for service can be costly but there’s no guarantee you will find a timely solution to repair a problem with your machine.     

Most vendors have in-house service technicians who are almost always available to consult and usually quick to act on service issues.          

As discussed earlier, you will also have one invoice that itemizes each printing expense on that month’s bill. For schools that might get hundreds of invoices a month, receiving only one bill for all printing-related expenses can be hugely beneficial.     

Better Time Efficiency      

The downtime you can create with a managed print contract ties into the productivity benefit of this section.      

It’s not just the downtime created for employees who are tasked with ordering supplies or filling out print invoices that were discussed previously.      

Without managed print, the IT staff at schools can spend up to 15 hours a week on printer repairs and maintenance.      

Is that the most effective use of their time? Or could they use that time to work on tasks more valuable to the school?      

If you’re like most school districts, you likely answered no to the first question and yes to the second one.      

Many problems arise when overseeing an entire school district, and if your IT staff is spending over a day’s worth of time on printing-related issues every week, it takes time away from the jobs that are most essential to the school’s operations.     

MPS frees up that time formerly spent on printers and gives the IT staff more time to focus on issues more vital to the school.     

  1. Security and Compliance     

Ensuring your machines are safe from cybersecurity threats and compliant with the latest security measures can be another benefit of using a managed print service for your fleet.    

Because schools usually have an abundance of machines, oftentimes more than they realize, the risk of missing or ignoring security risks becomes greater.         

Cyberattacks can devastate operations, and CyberNews’ hijacking experiment exposed how vulnerable network-connected printers can be to security breaches.       

Let’s go over a few of the ways MPS can contribute to your company's security profile:     

Proactive Device Monitoring and Firmware Updates       

Most MPS contracts will include proactive device monitoring, which provides for 24/7 monitoring of device malfunctions and can surveil for security irregularities, as well. The device monitoring technology can also resolve minor security issues on its own, further enhancing the machine’s overall security profile.       

An MPS provider can also ensure your machines are compliant with the latest firmware updates, which is key to thwarting cyberattack opportunities. Some providers can even implement auto-firmware updates.    

There are various other kinds of security features you can opt into with some MPS providers, like sign-in procedures to avoid unauthorized access, which adds additional security enhancements to your machine.     

Having MPS can help you to manage your fleet of printers and print policy in a way that makes it easier to ensure that all the latest security capabilities of your printers are enabled.    

Eliminate Older or Non-Networked Printers     

One of the things an MPS provider can show you in their initial assessment phase is an insight into which machines are most vulnerable to a security breach.     

Older models and printers that aren’t connected to your network are common areas of interest for cyber attackers since they are usually an afterthought when it comes to cyber threats.    

MPS providers can draw attention to the machines that are most at-risk for a breach and dispose of them, if necessary.        

Reduce Access to Your Fleet    

A general security benefit to having one print provider is reducing the number of non-employees who have access to your networked printers.      

Consolidating your printing matters to one source means that it will be the only external party that has access to your network of printers.      

Security is usually something that only comes to the forefront of your mind after a breach has already occurred. With an MPS contract, you will have ingrained and proactive mechanisms to ward off potential cyber threats.       

If you would like to learn more about what you can do to enhance printer security, read these blogs:     

  1. Environmental Sustainability     

If you’re a school that prioritizes environmentally conscious measures, then an MPS contract offers actions to achieve eco-friendly goals.      

Let’s break down the environmental benefits of MPS in more detail:    

Toner Recycling      

One of the key environmental benefits of a managed print service is the ability to recycle toner and other printing supplies in the right way.     

Some MPS contracts will ship you a box or wastebasket to send any used toner cartridges back to be disposed of properly.     

Empty toner and ink cartridges contain chemicals that could be hazardous and flammable, if not thrown away correctly. They can also contribute to indoor pollution and reduced air quality.        

This not only qualifies as a good deed for the environment, but it also protects against any hazardous risks you might be taking by throwing away used cartridges.     

Read our blog about how to recycle toner cartridges and other printing supplies to learn more.        

Energy Consumption      

Just as the MPS provider can alert you to machines most vulnerable to a cyberattack, they can also point you to the printers that are non-effective and still use a considerable amount of energy.       

MPS can also incorporate energy-saving tactics for your machines, such as auto-shut off when not in use, to cut energy costs and save on energy output.      

Wasted energy consumption can contribute to air pollution, water pollution, thermal pollution and solid waste disposal, according to the European Environment Agency.       

Paper Consumption      

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), 17% of printed documents are wasted.      

Compounding that fact is that pulp and paper is the third-largest industrial polluter of air, water and soil, according to The World Counts.      

MPS can cut down on wasted printing output in a few ways, which can include:      

  • Integrating paper-saving tactics, such as forcing double-sided print for most documents.   

  • Educating employees on the best printing practices.   

  • Incorporating print management software that can track and limit prints, which saves on wasted prints and unintentional printing mistakes with the ability to delete print jobs from the queue before it’s complete.      

Read our blog about Xerox’s environmental initiatives to learn more about how the company is combatting climate change.   

3 Cons of Managed Print Services       

Now that you’ve seen the benefits of MPS, let’s take a look at some of the cons, or limitations, of managed print contracts:       

  1. Additional Purchase Required for Advanced Managed Print Software       

This was touched on previously, but it is arguably the biggest downside to customary managed print services that vendors offer.       

A typical MPS contract does not easily allow you to track employee printing habits or limit function usage. This is where investing in print management software like InfoFlo Print, Y-Soft SafeQ or PaperCut would be the best option if you require tracking specific tasks and setting usage limits.     

  1. Employee Reluctance to Print Tracking     

Say you’re a school district that wanted to invest in print management software that would enable function tracking.        

Would all your employees be agreeable to having their printing habits tracked and monitored?      

Although not required, it might be worth asking whether employees would be amenable to having their printing behavior monitored and digitally recorded before implementing the software into your workplace.        

  1. Must Meet Eligibility Requirements        

This last con was another factor of MPS contracts discussed earlier, but to enact a managed print service, you must first meet the criteria for it.        

This will vary depending on the type of MPS, but to be eligible for managed print, you usually have to:    

  • Have a large fleet of machines (15 or more at some vendors)    

  • Have machines that qualify for MPS (InkJets or older printers usually won’t qualify; most laser printers do).  

  • Print at a volume that makes MPS beneficial for your school.    

If you meet these eligibility requirements, you will likely qualify for a managed print contract. If you don’t, however, then there’s a chance you won’t qualify or do not need a managed print service for your school.       

Generally speaking, managed print is an optional service by print providers that is designed to help schools who desire the benefits they offer.    

Therefore, there are not as many cons to enacting the service for schools that have a large, mismanaged, printer fleet.     

It’s why fit is crucial to determining whether MPS would be worthwhile for your school. The benefits are plentiful, but only if you meet the prerequisites for the service and have a general need for it.  

If you don’t, then paying for a managed print service will not provide a great return on investment for your school.      

Cost of Managed Print Services   

You’ve read through what a managed print service is, and what it can and can’t do for your school, but you probably still have one more pressing question: How much does MPS cost?      

Figuring out a precise estimate for all managed print services would be next to impossible because of the variations of MPS out there.   

Cost can differ from provider to provider, and in most cases, the monthly price of MPS will be determined by how many prints you make or account for in a month.     

To determine an estimate of what MPS would cost you, it’s best to consult your print provider. Most MPS providers will work with you to gather the analytics of your current fleet to gain a better understanding of what your cost will be moving forward.    

They can then compare your current printing costs with an offer that includes MPS, which will show you the cost-saving benefits of incorporating the service.   

Read our blog on how much a managed print service costs to see an actual estimate on what you can expect to pay for MPS.  

A Real Example of How Managed Print Services Helped a School   

Managed print might sound great in theory, but what will the cost savings actually look like for your school?      

To demonstrate how managed print can benefit a school district, let’s look at an example of how MPS helped a client of ours.     

North Texas 5A School District    

A school district in North Texas knew it needed to find a way to cut back on its budget and allocate resources to the areas that needed the most improvement.     

They recognized how much they were spending on monthly printing costs and pinpointed it as an area of concern, which is why they decided to reach out to us to see what managed print was all about.   

After a managed print study was conducted, the school was found to have multiple printing inefficiencies: they were constantly outsourcing supplies and services, which began to take a tangible toll on their annual budget, and the machines they had were inadequate for the high print volume a school district requires.     

After figuring out what needed to be done to help the school district, we agreed to provide our managed print service, e-Valet, as a solution to their printing problem.    

The results:    

  • Standardized the number of manufacturers from 8 to 2.   

  • Streamlined accounts payable from 8 different vendors to one.  

  • Allowed IT time back to concentrate on mission-critical tasks instead of printer repairs/management. 

  • Reduced the number of printers throughout the district and optimized the remaining fleet, resulting in cost savings of 40%.  

  • Eliminated waste of obsolete and unused supplies.   

After several years, we continued to optimize their fleet and reevaluated their print environment. After finding a 30% volume growth and a need for 15 new additional printers, we were able to still provide the school district with a cost-savings of 15%. 

Because of their decision to incorporate a managed print service, the school not only saved on their school’s bottom line, but they were able to free up time for their IT staff and eliminate the need to deal with multiple vendors for printer-related issues.   

The school continues to operate under a managed print service and still reaps the cost-saving benefits to this day.      

For another look at the benefits of MPS, read our blog about the five reasons why you need managed print services.       

Interested in a Managed Print Service Study?      

If you’re a school district that manages a large printer fleet, then you know how much you’ve spent to get the right machines in place for your company.        

Improperly managing your printer fleet can cost you thousands of dollars more over the long run, not to mention the amount of time it will take you to figure out printing solutions on your own.        

This is why print vendors across the industry recommend opting into a managed print contract because they know how costly it is to manage a large fleet without managed print services.    

Opting into managed print has yielded school districts a cost savings of around 20-30% of what they were originally paying for printing-related expenses. In some cases, managed print has saved school districts up to 50% on printing expenditures.    

However, a managed print contract will not be for everybody, nor does everybody meet the minimum standards for the service. To find out if you’re a fit for a managed print service, talk with your print vendor about a managed print service study or assessment.       

A managed print service study is a deep dive into your print infrastructure where print volume, cost per print and quantity and quality of machines are evaluated to determine whether MPS is right for you.       

As a vendor who has seen too many school districts plagued by inefficient printing processes, opting into a managed print contract, assuming you meet the parameters, is highly advised to avoid overspending and underutilizing your printer/copier investment.    

If you are interested in implementing managed print in your school district, read our blog about what to expect in a managed print service study and whether it would be the right next step for you.