The Best and Worst Print Management DecisionsEthan Davis
If you’re searching for Print Management Solutions, you have a problem.
Your problem is that you don’t know what your real problem is.
If you knew how to save money in your output environment, you wouldn’t be searching for Print Management Solutions.
But Print Management Solutions are not what you’re really after… are they?
What you’re really trying to find is the fastest, easiest, most cost-effective way to reduce print costs without hurting the quality to service you’re providing to your employees and internal customers.
The good news is that the best Print Management Solutions will quickly accomplish your goal by solving every problem you currently have, both the ones you know about and the ones you don’t.
The bad news is that the worst Print Management Solutions will magnify your current problems and actually increase your costs while hurting your productivity.
So how will you choose?
Let’s start at the beginning…
There are only 5 ways to reduce print costs.
The first is that when you buy devices/services/supplies, you get the most competitive pricing.
Second, you must control the volume that each employee in your organization prints.
Third, for the volume that your employees need to print, you need to have rules in place so that the pages are printed on the lowest cost devices with the right features and functions for the job.
Fourth, you must have the right devices in the right places for each output point in your document output fleet, whether that be the desktop, workgroup printer, copier/MFD, print shop, etc.
Fifth, you must pay attention to and resolve each and every issue that could cause your costs to fluctuate over the lifecycle of each device and contract.
So which Print Management Solutions on the market today can actually do these 5 things?
Print Management Solutions come in a variety of flavors, from simple software costing less than one-hundred dollars to highly-customized consulting services costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
These products and services all promise to achieve significant cost reductions in your print environment for you, but how significant?
To make the choice between hundred dollar software and hundred-thousand-dollar consulting services, you need to know exactly what’s in it for you. You need to be able to calculate ROI. Will it be worth it? What’s the risk? How will you know when you’ve achieved all you can?
Most print management vendors right now are saying that the average organization can save 30% on their print costs. But what are you currently spending? How can you tell?
And how sure are you that these Print Management Solutions will deliver what they promise? Are exact savings guaranteed? Has your current environment been baselined? Do you know what your cost targets are this year? Next year? In five years?
The level at which a Print Management Solution will reduce your print costs is dependent on how many of the 5 ways to reduce costs the product or service incorporates. Your print (and copy) environment is a system, and to achieve any significant and meaningful improvements that can be sustained over time, you must take a systematic approach to the management of it. That means you must manage everything all the time. Squeeze the environment in one area without controlling the other and it will bulge like a balloon being pinched. Get your hands all the way around it by focusing on all 5 areas at once, and see your savings really increase.
So how can you do this?
Three main types of Print Management Solutions are being offered today, but none of them will do all five things at once.
The first is “Print Management Software”, which helps organizations implement quotas and limits on printing at the print window for each job on the computer. This “Solution” only addresses the second area of cost savings. The cost savings that result may actually be less than the additional costs to the organization in terms of the employee not being able to do as good of job in the delivery of products and services to your organization’s customers. Beware! Only look to this type of “Solution” if you are 100% sure that there is waste inside your organization from your employees, and the cost savings of waste elimination will provide you a positive ROI on the software implementation.
Second, “Printer Service/Supplies/Support Service Contracts” are being marketed by print and copy vendors as “Print Management Solutions.” These services seek to remove the front-line support frustrations from IT departments allowing them to focus on other higher-value projects. While some include automated supplies delivery and on-site personnel, the cost reductions from this type of agreement will probably be a wash. Internal dollars are difficult to quantify. If you don’t have any true cost savings, it may be hard to justify, and not worth the time it takes to implement.
And third, “Managed Print Services” as a Print Management Solution is the industry buzz these days. Ranging from simple cost-per-click contracts where the organization owns the equipment and the vendor services it, to full-blown “pay-for-page” contracts where the organization doesn’t own anything, these contracts are anything but cost reducing. An aggressive sales team may be able to format some data that looks convincing on the outset, but implementation brings the same-ol’ same-ol’ issues with cost creep and overspending. Also, with this type of contract in place, you won’t see any cost reductions unless you cut your print volume once it is in place…
So what can you do? How can you tackle all 5 cost savings ways at once?
There is one more type of Print Management Solution relatively unknown to most organizations, and it’s called “Managed Services for Document Output Technology”. This service was created from a blank slate with the sole purpose of optimizing cost savings at the same time as optimizing quality of services provided to end-users and internal customers. This service incorporates every one of the five cost savings areas at the same time, and is designed to be implemented by a team of data management experts, analysts, and consultants working for and with every level of your organization to understand and fulfill every print/output need while protecting the organizations and working as policy ambassadors and trainers to help your internal personnel make better decisions when printing documents.
If you desire a Print Management Solution that will maximize your print savings while maximizing your end-user support and efficiencies, you want to implement the five cost savings areas at the same time, and if baselines, exact savings calculations, and written guarantees are what your organization needs, this last category is the only service out there that will give you what you want.
To find out more about the service and the methods and processes behind it that make it work, download our white paper titled “9 Best Practices for Achieving a Well-Managed Output Environment.”