Mastering Multi-Vendor MPS Management: Strategies for Success and Case Studies

Navigating the world of Managed Print Services (MPS) can be a complex task, especially when dealing with multiple vendors. The challenge lies in effectively managing these relationships to ensure seamless operations and maximum efficiency.

Understanding Managed Print Services (MPS)

Managed Print Services (MPS) streamline the intricate world of printer management. It encompasses a multitude of features, from monitoring and maintaining printers to reducing wastage and optimizing efficiency. MPS, in essence, aims to take the burden of printer management off your shoulders, saving you time and resources.

The Need for Managed Print Solutions

Consider a business landscape populated by numerous printers, scanners, and copiers, each of varying brands, models, and functions. Managing printers in this environment poses a distinct challenge with a mass of consumables, varying printer lifecycles, different warranties, and distinct support protocols.

In this scenario, Managed Print Solutions come to the rescue, providing all-out printer management. With MPS, it becomes possible to consolidate tasks such as maintenance, supplies, troubleshooting, and even the disposal of old units, under a single service. Imagine the relief of not juggling diverse vendors for supplies or managing a potpourri of warranties.

Evaluating Your MPS Needs

Assess your MPS needs based on various factors. Start by analyzing the scale of your printer fleet. For instance, a fleet of over 50 printers might benefit significantly more from an MPS. In contrast, a simpler setup of five units, might not necessitate large-scale MPS.

Additionally, consider your print volume, consumables usage, and expenditure on maintenance and repairs. High print volume and expenditure denote substantial MPS needs.

Evaluating your MPS requirements isn’t simply about identifying needs, it also revolves uniquely around recognizing your capacity to manage them. Use internal audits or partner with MPS providers for an in-depth needs assessment. You might be surprised by how much your organization stands to gain by efficiently managing your print environment through MPS.

The Challenges of Managing MPS with Multiple Vendors

The labyrinthine task of managing MPS relationships with multiple vendors presents innumerable challenges. From communication complications to the integration of diverse systems, this process isn’t always smooth sailing.

Complexity in Communication and Coordination

In the realm of managing multiple vendors, complexities in communication and coordination often emerge. Having several vendors adds several layers of interaction, each with their unique set of procedures, criteria, and channels. This scenario increases the likelihood of miscommunication, one eggregious error being botched orders. For instance, placing a toner request to Vendor A but, due to a mix-up, it gets requisitioned from Vendor B, leading to a surfeit of toner and a bewildered Vendor B.

Integration of Diverse Systems and Technologies

When dealing with multiple vendors, the clash of diverse systems and technologies is inevitable. Different vendors, each with hostile systems, create a cacophony rather than collaboration. Vendors A, B, and C may employ systems 1, 2, and 3 respectively. Such diversity breeds the issue of compatibility. An illustrative example, a print job sent through System 1, which due to system incompatibility, cannot be processed by Printer from Vendor B using System 2, culminating in workflow disruption.

Inconsistent Service Levels Across Vendors

Service inconsistency poses a formidable challenge in Maddening MPS with multiple vendors. It’s a usual occurrence that several vendors operate on different service level agreements (SLAs) thus offering varying levels of service. One vendor may offer round-the-clock support while another, strictly 9 to 5. Such inconsistencies can wreak havoc during troubleshooting. As an example, a late-night printer malfunction. Vendor B’s support isn’t reachable, and Vendor A can’t render help as the malfunctioning printer is not within their purview.

Strategies for Effective Management

As the complexities of managing MPS with multiple vendors rise, it becomes increasingly important to develop strategies to effectively manage these challenges. Below, I offer several strategies that can assist in this management.

Centralized Management Approach

Taking a centralized management approach, I suggest creating a dedicated team or designating a point person to manage the vendors. This team or person becomes responsible for coordinating between the vendors, thus reducing communication errors and ensuring smoother systems integration. For instance, in a company with 5 vendors, appointing a dedicated vendor manager can ensure streamlined communication, making it easier to manage multiple vendors and their disparate systems.

Establishing Clear Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

It’s important that clear Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are established with each vendor. These agreements must outline expected performance levels, response times, and service quality metrics. SLAs should also define and agree on penalties for underperformance. An example of such an agreement might detail that a vendor is to respond to service requests within 3 hours or face penalties. Constructing specific, measurable, and realistic SLAs reduces the risk of inconsistent service levels.

Conducting Regular Performance Reviews

I also propose conducting regular performance reviews with each vendor. These reviews can provide an opportunity to review the vendor’s performance against the agreed-upon SLAs, address any issues, and facilitate continuous improvement. In the case of a company with high print volumes, monthly reviews could help identify possible improvements, such as higher-efficiency printers or better placement of devices, leading to optimized MPS performance. Regular performance reviews ensure vendors remain aligned with the organization’s needs and expectations, leading to optimized service delivery.

Benefits of a Multi-Vendor MPS Approach

In the quest for efficiency and effectiveness, adopting a multi-vendor approach in managed print services (MPS) has ample advantages. This approach brings forth a platform for leveraging diversified expertise, competitive pricing, and risk mitigation.

Access to a Broader Range of Expertise

Embracing a multi-vendor MPS approach brings forth a trove of expertise. This isn’t just about getting diverse skills, it’s about accessing tailored solutions for unique business needs. For instance, one vendor might excel in eco-friendly printing solutions, another could be a pioneer in high-volume printing, while a third might be renowned for advanced security features. Having multiple vendors, in this case, equates to accessing diverse, specialized capabilities, optimally addressing variegated business needs.

Competitive Pricing and Flexibility

Looking at pricing, engaging multiple vendors sparks healthy competition. This typically translates to competitive rates. For example, if three different vendors provide similar services, they’re likely to offer competitive prices to outdo each other. This gives you an upper hand, potentially leading to cost savings.

Moreover, the flexibility is an added advantage. You’re not locked into one vendor’s product range or pricing. This flexibility enables you to mix and match services and products to precisely suit your business needs.

Risk Mitigation Through Diversified Partnerships

The phrase “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” echoes true in MPS management as well. Engaging multiple vendors inherently diversifies risk. It’s akin to an insurance policy against downtime. Let’s say one vendor is unable to provide service due to unforeseen circumstances, there’ll be other vendors to fill the gap, ensuring uninterrupted service.

Moreover, diversified vendors mean distributed dependencies – a fail-safe against the monopoly of single vendors, leading to improved business continuity and service quality. It’s a strategic move, helping businesses navigate through turbulent times without substantial disruption.

Best Practices for Managing MPS with Multiple Vendors

Managing Multiple Vendors of Managed Print Services (MPS) is no easy feat. However, implementing certain best practices makes it manageable and rewarding. Here’s what these practices entail:

Streamlining Vendor Selection

Picking the vendors is the first step, but it’s not a simple task. Two key factors play big roles in vendor selection: expertise and flexibility. Out of a plethora of vendors promising the best service, picking the ones that specialize in fulfilling your specific business needs is crucial. For example, if your printing needs involve high-quality image printing, focusing on vendors with expertise in that niche becomes essential.

Apart from specialized expertise, look for vendors that offer flexibility in their service plans. A vendor with multiple service levels or customized plans adds value, as it accommodates changes in your business needs over time.

Building Strong Vendor Relationships

Once you’ve chosen your vendors, building and maintaining strong relationships with them is essential. Regular communication remains at the heart of such relationships. It’s best to establish clear and regular communication channels. These might be weekly briefing calls or monthly performance reviews, depending on your specific needs and the complexity of the services.

Remember, it’s not just about enforcing your needs onto the vendors. It’s also about understanding their work processes and constraints. Empathy breeds stronger relationships, even in business. For instance, appreciating a vendor’s efforts in promptly addressing an issue not only boosts their morale but also encourages them to ensure top-notch service.

Implementing Continuous Improvement Processes

Aim for constant enhancement. Introduce a culture of continuous improvement in your MPS management strategy. This approach includes regular review of vendor performance, monitoring of service quality, and making necessary adjustments.

For example, you might notice that vendor A’s service quality has been consistently sub-par over the last quarter. Instead of abruptly terminating the contract, seek a performance improvement plan. Initiate dialogue, explain your concerns, and suggest possible solutions or improvements.

Also, make it a point to provide constructive feedback to your vendors. This not only aids in ensuring that they meet desired service levels, but also helps them improve their overall service quality.

By following these best practices in managing MPS with multiple vendors, you can ensure a smooth operation while achieving optimal results and maintaining robust business continuity.

Case Studies

In the realm of Managed Print Service management, practical instances often illuminate the theory. Several high-profile organizations have proven that a Multi-Vendor MPS Approach can yield substantial benefits with the right strategies in place.

Success Stories of Multi-Vendor MPS Management

Prominent companies, large and small, have realized significant gains by leveraging multiple MPS vendors. For instance, a global insurance firm decided to engage with multiple MPS vendors, which offered differing areas of expertise. After a rigorous selection process, they consolidated their entire print environment under these vendors. In addition to saving them 20% in print-related costs, it allowed for risk dispersal and facilitated an increase in operational efficiency.

Also, a national hospital chain adopted a similar approach. They managed to streamline their print operations across different locations using a cluster of MPS vendors. The result was a 30% reduction in total printing costs, better patient data security, and increased employee productivity.

Lessons Learned from Complex MPS Implementations

Contrarily, a few organizations encountered hurdles in their journey of Multi-Vendor MPS management. A higher education institute chose to work with various MPS providers without a clear understanding of the benefits that each vendor brought to the table. This resulted in communication discrepancies and led to inconsistent service levels. On identifying these critical challenges, the institute took action to create a robust governance structure, leading ultimately to better coordination and improved service quality.

Another case involves a manufacturing firm that had initially failed to define clear expectations and performance metrics with its MPS vendors. This misunderstanding caused friction between the stakeholders. Noticing the discrepancy, the firm reframed their vendor engagement model, setting explicit expectations, and tracking KPIs. This restructuring led to service improvements and optimized costs down the line.

In essence, these examples signify the importance of strategic planning, clear communication, and active management when embarking on the Multi-Vendor MPS journey. It’s not only about choosing the right mix of vendors, but also how effectively you can integrate, communicate and manage them to achieve the desired outcomes.


Managing MPS with multiple vendors isn’t without its challenges. Yet, it’s clear that the benefits of a Multi-Vendor MPS Approach – diversified expertise, competitive pricing, and risk mitigation – often outweigh the difficulties. Success stories from various organizations show that with strategic planning, clear communication, and active management, it’s possible to achieve cost savings, operational efficiency, and improved service quality. Remember, the key to managing MPS with multiple vendors is to stay proactive and strategic. It’s not just about finding the right vendors, but also about managing them effectively to get the most out of your MPS investment. The road might be a bit bumpy at times, but with the right approach, it can lead to a more streamlined, efficient, and cost-effective print environment.