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25 May 2011

Fresh prints of…thin air

By Steven Swift

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S teven Swift explains how a considered managed print service can help your company cut costs, improve efficiency and lessen its environmental impact.


The Question. I've heard about the benefits of managed print services: improved efficiency, reduced environmental impact while reducing costs (figures mentioned have been around 30, even 40 percent). I'm sceptical, as my experience tells me you never get something for nothing. Are the benefits promised real? And if so how are they achieved?

The Answer. The benefits are very real; a survey of 105 companies pre- and post-MPS carried out by Photizo Group in 2009 showed that by outsourcing the management of imaging devices companies achieved an average saving of €250 per employee, a 60 percent reduction in CO2 emissions caused by printing and imaging, and freed up 10 percent of IT resources. Analysis carried out by independent consultants NewField IT across a large sample of organisations for which they provided assessments, showed 34 percent cost savings in direct cost of printing and imaging, and a 69 percent reduction in the number of imaging devices.

However, you are of course right that that you never get something for nothing. So how are these results achieved?

The answer is found in the 69 percent reduction in the number of print devices. Most organisations have way too many printers, and most of them do not even realise the full amount. Photizo has found organisations average one imaging device for every two employees.

In addition to having too many printers, many organisations also fail to manage the costs associated with using the printers. Consumables are often purchased from multiple sources, without using the organisation's buying power, and without proper controls to avoid inventories accumulating, which can lead to wastage and write-offs.

There are big differences in the cost-per-page between print devices, especially between mono and colour printing. However, many organisations fail to implement proper policies, which can encourage employees to use the most appropriate and cost-effective device for each job, and to avoid unnecessary colour printing.

The NewField IT analysis showed that on average organisations that had not adopted MPS spent 5.2 cents per page printed - taking into account the cost of both the hardware and the consumables. A reasonable benchmark for a medium to large organisation would be 2-3 cents per page for mono output, and 8-10 cents per page for colour output. The actual cost varies according to the type and size of organisation, the number and profile of printing devices used, and the type of printing performed.

There are a number of reasons for organisations not managing their printing properly. Firstly, printing has traditionally been regarded as a Cinderella function, which is often ignored. Secondly, until recently document output was divided between printing, which was the responsibility of the IT department, and copying, which came under facilities management. Now, with the advent of networked multi-functional printers (MFPs), it is possible to move to holistic management of all document printing and imaging, and the devices used for it.

A good managed print service does just that. The MPS provider begins with a thorough assessment of the organisation's printing and imaging needs, and the current infrastructure and costs. It then agrees a strategy with the client, and based on this comes up with a transition plan to right-size the printer fleet, rationalise and manage the purchase of consumables, and implement sensible printing policies, with tools to monitor and manage users' behaviour. The MPS provider agrees service levels and cost targets with the client, and is then responsible for delivering these.

Best of all, by moving to streamlined management of all printing and imaging, not only can significant cost savings be achieved, but substantial additional benefits may be realised, including big reductions in environmental impact and fewer calls to IT help-desks with print-associated queries.

Biography

Steven Swift is a senior consultant with Photizo Group and is responsible for the European market. He has over 20 years' experience in the Imaging industry with organisations like Ricoh Global Services Europe where he launched one of the first managed print services; NewField IT, an independent consultancy providing software and services to help clients optimise document management and output, and as a vice president at Acco Brands.


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