Managed Print Services and Optimization: You Can Do It Too
I just finished a grueling 2½-day process of reviewing vendor responses to a multi-function device RFP for a large university in New York City. The organization wanted to upgrade and modernize its fleet of copiers/multifunction devices and move to a cost-per-copy program. My task was to evaluate the current state, make recommendations on ways to optimize resource use, write the RFP, and help with the evaluation. Pretty straightforward stuff.
The toughest part of this type of project is helping the organization assess its current state. You’d be surprised at how little many organizations know about their copier, MFD and desktop printer fleets. Or maybe not. Suffice it to say that organizations that know how many devices they have, where they are, and the number of prints/copies they make have most of the data needed to optimize the fleet.
It follows that organizations that don’t have the aforementioned data fall prey to the circling managed print services proponents looking to optimize the fleet.
You see, a few years ago a major IT consulting firm opined that organizations spend 1 to 3 percent of their gross revenue on printing. It did not define “printing”—that is, it did not clarify whether printing included offset, toner-based production print, print created on distributed copier/MFDs, laser and ink-jet desktop printers, data center production, etc. Nor did it articulate the basis of the implication that 1 to 3 percent was a bad thing. For all we know, 1 to 3 percent is about right.
Nevertheless, the pundits spoke it and the copier companies jumped on board, so now our organizations are being inundated with promises of huge savings available from taming the copier/printer beast. Many managed print services (MPS) firms promise savings of 30 percent by reducing the number of printers, copiers and fax machines and purchasing competitively. Never mind that these are often the same companies that sold us the printers, copiers and fax machines in the first place, and if they didn’t sell them to us, they probably tried to.
Ray Chambers, CGCM, MBA, has invested over 30 years managing and directing printing plants, copy centers, mail centers and award-winning document management facilities in higher education and government.
Most recently, Chambers served as vice president and chief information officer at Juniata College. Chambers is currently a doctoral candidate studying Higher Education Administration at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). His research interests include outsourcing in higher education and its impact on support services in higher education and managing support services. He also consults (Chambers Management Group) with leaders in both the public and private sectors to help them understand and improve in-plant printing and document services operations.