The K-12 CIO’s Opportunity to Help Save Money, Improve Service in their District’s Copy/Print Program in 2017Mel Walker
Districts can save, but it takes the right tools, the right data and cabinet-level support
Over the past several years I have had the opportunity to work with great number of school districts throughout the United States. I work closely with CIOs and CBOs to examine the inner-workings of district copier and printer programs and I can tell you that every single one of them has found significant savings. All it took was collecting the right data; and then using that data to drive better decisions about vendors, programs and contracts, and to fuel the ongoing management of their printer/copier program more proactively.
CIO Must Be Involved for Real Savings
Printers and copiers are an area that most CIOs would like to avoid, but doing so can be costly. Indeed, districts that I’ve worked with have saved on average 32 percent. The result is often in a six figure savings district-wide. Now, in my book, that is worth paying attention to. And CIOs that elect overlook copiers because they are not a high-tech priority should think again. In fact, for districts to really save (not just incremental budget savings or a few cents shaved off per click) the CIO must be involved. The districts that have been the most successful have done so as a result of a tight and fruitful partnership between the CIO and the CBO.
Right Data, Right Focus
According to our research, school districts who have implemented copying/printing program optimization strategies save big. To learn more, read Ethan Davis’ blog post here that breaks down some of our current research.
How do they do it? It takes the right data and the right focus, and a thoughtful and ongoing examination of the current state — not only at RFP time but throughout the life of the contract and program. This will require that the CIO dedicate attention to acquiring the right tools and applying the right resources and people to collect meaningful data. Here are some key metrics to consider:
Devices and Configurations – How many printers and copiers are in the environment? Are they configured to match user needs? Are some devices over-kill, while others are underpowered?
Usage – Device usage is essential in order to come to grips with your environment – telling you not only what devices you have deployed, but how often and to what degree they are utilized.
Category – Many organizations do not have a clear picture of the number and types of devices they own or lease, whether they are connected or unconnected, and whether they print in black and white or in color.
Service and Uptime – Do you have machines that are constantly in need of service while others perform flawlessly? What does that service cost you and what are the implications of the corresponding downtime?
Peak Demand –Business units often have slow periods mixed with times of high demand. End-of-month, quarterly close or special projects can drive up demand and skew the numbers in ways that can be misleading.
Voice of the Customer – Statistics are essential, but valuable perspective and information can be gained by listening to your “customer” — essential to make meaningful adjustments and improvements.
When to Act
If your printer/copier contract is coming up for renewal in the next 9 to 12 months it is important to begin your efforts now, otherwise you’ll be stuck with another three to five years of status quo. For districts with contract expirations in 2017, the time is now. Data collection typically takes 90 days to get meaningful data on your printers and copiers, and add a month for analysis and decision making. That means the assessment needs to start 4 months before Procurement is planning on starting the RFP process in order to make the right business decisions. Remember, this is a strategic program that will require a cross-functional team and executive level involvement – including purchasing, IT and members of the academic community.
Copy/Print Vendors Can’t Provide Objective Data
It can be tempting to simply allow your current vendor to provide the data, but that approach always falls short. After all, it’s not in your vendor’s best interest to uncover savings in the current program. An honest and independent evaluation of your current program is essential. The best approach is for both the CIO and the CBO to work together to sponsor and lead assessment efforts and to bring the data to cabinet-level decisions regarding district spending and service levels BEFORE Procurement starts writing the RFP.
For Ongoing Management, Better Data Means More Savings
A thorough and thoughtful assessment is only part of the equation. Districts find a great deal of additional savings by applying the same business acumen to monitoring and managing the printer/copier environment on an ongoing basis. Not only does this validate and ensure that the savings promised at RFP time are actually realized, the effort and process also allow IT and others to adjust accordingly with an eye to constantly fine-tune features and placements as needed to ensure optimal performance and cost-effectiveness. It is important, therefore, to have the proper reporting structure in place that identifies gaps in system performance. From there, you can create a “hit list” of machines to adjust or redeploy to better meet the needs of the district.
You Can’t Get a Ph.D. in Copying/Printing
It can be a challenge for CIOs to apply the right resources and expertise. That’s where we come in. Optimizon is an independent, professional business consultancy that specializes in K-12 as well as the intricacies of a district-wide printer/copier environment. We don’t sell any equipment or broker any hardware. Instead, we work for you to evaluate the current state, examine vendor contracts and deployments, and ensure that you get the right pricing, the right capabilities and the right programs in place to optimize your environment and enable savings district-wide. We’ve worked for some of the most progressive school districts in the nation, and we’d be pleased to explore how we can help you too.