Making the Business Case for Managed Print

Rob Ince, Senior Director, Managed Print Services, ITsavvy
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Rob Ince, Senior Director, Managed Print Services, ITsavvy

A few years back we worked with a company that had outgrown its print operation. As the IT Director described it, “Initially, print management wasn’t a big deal, but as we continued to grow our business with new facilities, it became an overwhelming daily task. Which printer was running out of ink today? Which needed cleaning or service? We were taking up too much time on print.” Outsourcing print management was an obvious solution. The bigger problem, though, was convincing senior leadership of the cost savings that could be achieved. Unfortunately, the IT Director had no idea how much his existing print operation was costing them.

This is a common story. A CIO or IT Director recognizes the problem, and even identifies the solution, but struggles to make the business case for Managed Print. There are a lot of invisible costs of print that need to be considered, and our discovery and assessment tools help clients to uncover these costs. Here are ways for you to identify the critical ones in support of your proposal to outsource your print operation.

Assess the fleet. It’s not unusual for us to conduct an assessment and uncover print devices that had been purchased without knowledge of the IT department. If possible, you should conduct site visits, and be sure to look on top and under desks and in closets. Are there rogue devices you didn’t know about? Are there devices that are no longer being used? Your entire print fleet is costing your organization, either through supply purchases, maintenance or service contracts.

  An industry-recognized Managed Print provider should be able to help you gather the data and perform the analytics for you 

Assess service contracts. Make an accounting of all devices, warranties and service contracts. How many vendors are you working with? Are you getting the best service from all of them? How quickly can they be onsite? You may discover that you are paying for service contracts for devices that you no longer own or use. If you were to work with a single vendor that could service all makes and models through a Managed Print relationship, and even monitor usage remotely and manage events proactively, you may receive better coverage and reduce service costs.

Assess procurement processes. When you conduct your site visits, make note of supply amounts. You may find stockpiles of toner for devices your company no longer owns. What is that excess inventory costing you? How are supplies ordered? Can you identify one vendor who can serve as a procurement resource for economies in scale? Centralized procurement with just-in-time supply ordering is a big cost advantage of Managed Print.

Assess the devices. An aging fleet contains hidden costs, too. How often are devices down? Are users taking print offsite when a device is down? That’s an invisible cost you need to account for. If you pay your service vendor on a per-visit basis, how much did that cost during the last year? Would it be more cost-effective to decommission an old and inefficient device? You will want to establish a consistent purchase and replacement strategy.

Assess the applications. Sometimes print devices are ill-suited for the user needs, so it’s important to understand how devices and print applications are used. You should get input directly from your users, particularly your power users to learn of their day-to-day challenges. Does Accounting print massive month-end reports with a low-output device? Does Advertising use an outside print service because they lack a high-end printer? Could you identify underutilized devices and relocate them for more appropriate usage? You will want to match devices with user needs.

Assess user authentication. Sometimes it’s helpful to know who is printing what. When you come to work on Monday morning and realize 200 high-color copies were made over the weekend, wouldn’t it be nice to know which employee had come in and printed her wedding invitations? Or do you notice that print usage increases during Fantasy Football season? There are ways to track usage back to the user so that you can recapture some of those costs.

Assess information security. Your print operation should comply with your industry’s data security requirements, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, the Data Protection Act and MiFID. Do you need to keep an audit trail for your document transmission and receiving process? Are there fines associated with non-compliance? A Managed Print provider could help you select a printer that meets compliance standards.

Benchmark your findings. Once you have identified your costs, you can benchmark them against national standards like HP’s typical costs for Total Cost of Ownership for print: toner and supplies – 44 percent of TOC; hardware – 24 percent; break/fix repair – 14 percent; maintenance contracts – 6 percent; related support – 12 percent. Where are most of your print costs?

Understand stakeholder priorities. You may be able to leverage department or corporate-wide initiatives to support your Managed Print proposal. For instance, a branch office manager who has been tasked with streamlining processes would welcome someone taking over their print supply procurement responsibilities. Perhaps your company recently established sustainability initiatives that could be supported by reducing consumables like toner and paper. One of our clients in the logistics industry once told us, “If our label printer is down, our operation comes to a halt.” A reliable print operation can support a push to improve business continuity. Your users may be your best allies for Managed Print.

Make the business case. Once you have accounted for all of your print operation costs, you can make a strong case for moving to Managed Print. According to Gartner, actively managing office printing can lead to a reduction of up to 30 percent in recurring print spending. The discovery and assessment process can be a time-consuming task for many IT operations, however. An industry-recognized Managed Print provider should be able to help you gather the data and perform the analytics for you.

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