7 Tasks School District Business Leaders Need to Outsource in Print ManagementEthan Davis
WORKLOAD. Today, more than ever, school district personnel are being asked to do more with less. There is more to do and fewer people to delegate things to. This begs the question: when does outsourcing work best for a school district?
In the print and copy environment, it turns out there are 7 tasks that forward-thinking business leaders are outsourcing to save their teams a significant amount of time. This allows them to focus on other higher-priority initiatives without letting anything fall through the cracks.
So, what can actually be outsourced for quicker, faster and cheaper than internal people power?
Task #1: Data Collection
Very few districts have time to collect print environment data. Even fewer have the resources or time necessary to analyze the data on an ongoing basis.
Data needs to be collected when printing is being analyzed or when print management is being implemented. The data needs to be current and accurate in order to be actionable, and the data collection process can be extensive considering it needs to cover all devices, all costs, all performance, and all usage.
This task should be outsourced because professional services firms (like Optimizon), have the resources, tools, expertise and time to gather all data for multi-vendor environments. Additionally, the firm can be assigned ongoing responsibility to maintain the accuracy of the data.
Task #2: Benchmarking Spend
Finance and IT professionals often make decisions without full visibility into industry benchmarks. It’s difficult, if not impossible, for a school district to access this type of data on their own.
A good partner will have access to their own extensive data, industry databases, and a complete view and understanding of the industry. By outsourcing this, the stakeholders in the school district can make decisions based on real numbers that are free of bias.
Task #3: RFP Writing
At least half of all purchasing departments rely on state contracts or piggybacking (or just delay any formal contracting process) to avoid having to do an RFP for copy/print equipment. Even though most purchasing professionals agree that an RFP is the best way for a district to procure copy/print hardware, software, services and supplies, they just don’t have the time.
A good partner can take on most of the work of the RFP to help ensure competitive bids and maximize responses to the district’s requirements, get apples-to-apples pricing and terms, and ensure adequate planning has taken place.
Task #4: Site Budgeting
Administrative support teams are especially busy during budgeting season. Helping schools and departments set accurate budgets for the upcoming year for print can be part art and part science. Whether the budget is based on charge-backs, direct cost pass-through, cost-per-page, or any other form of direct or partial cost required by a site, giving the principal accurate numbers can help them put their limited dollars to best use.
An experienced independent partner can help establish accurate budgets in advance. This support can also include budget monitoring so that adjustments can be made as needed throughout the fiscal year.
Task #5: Contract Management
Contract management includes vendor oversight, compliance checking and issue resolution. The goal is to make sure the vendor delivers what was promised, every day the contract is in place. At best, 1 in 10 school districts even attempt contract management. Because of a lack of time and resources, most school districts find themselves reacting to issues rather than proactively managing.
This area should be outsourced because a good partner will have tools, expertise, resources and the project management capabilities to track every key performance indicator (KPI) and promise that was contractually agreed to by the vendor. This can ensure nothing falls through the cracks while maximizing the value of the contracts and making sure the end users (teachers and staff) have what they need to do their jobs.
Task #6: Invoice Validation + Dispute Resolution
Many accounts payable professionals pay invoices without validating them due to lack of time or lack of information that would be necessary to check the invoice for accuracy. When they do spot errors, they can spend hours trying to resolve issues. Keeping up with all the different contracts in a multi-vendor or decentralized environment only adds to the complexity.
Invoice validation and a streamlined process for fixing errors is a critical process because a lot of errors are still happening from the vendors’ end, including early rate increases, projected meter readings, incomplete crediting processes, and general disconnect on the vendor’s end between their sales/order taking groups and their billing groups.
Outsourcing this task can save accounts payable loads of time and help make sure the district isn’t paying more than they should. Software tools can streamline this process, but it doesn’t make sense for the district to invest in this type of software or try to build the tool in-house. An independent partner can bring this type of tool to the table, along with the resources and support necessary to validate every invoice and resolve any issues.
Task #7: Benchmarking Performance
Benchmarking performance has two facets: device performance and vendor response. Many vendors will provide summary reporting once a quarter that focuses on high-level vendor response information, i.e. “Uptime.” The issue is that device performance has nothing to do with vendor response, and it takes time and effort to collect and record device performance data. Regardless of who within the district gets the phone call from frustrated principals or secretaries when their copier keeps breaking down, that person doesn’t really have the time to get involved in the issue, let alone devise and manage a system to try to proactively manage copier performance.
An experienced independent partner can provide expertise and tools to collect device performance data and provide proactive support managing device performance.
WHO TO OUTSOURCE TO
Your copy and print vendors are not the ones who can do this. You need to find an independent 3rd party group that has experience, expertise, resources and the tools necessary to do this at a cost point that makes financial sense for the district. We’re one, and you can check out our services here.
Most districts looking to improve print management realize that doing it themselves would require time, expertise and tools that they just don’t have. We can help with that.
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