Three Reasons K-12 Districts Overspent on Copying and Printing in 2016 …and how to stop it in 2017Ethan Davis
Over the past 25 years we have had the opportunity to work with over 100 school districts throughout the United States, including districts in California, Oregon, Texas and many more. Since we’re an independent consulting firm (we don’t sell hardware, software or Managed Print Services) we’ve had the opportunity to delve deeply into the numbers and work side by side with CBO’s and Superintendents to really understand the current state of a typical copier/printer program…and the news is alarming.
According to our findings over our last 30 assessments, most districts significantly overspend on their copier/printer program. The average mid- to large-size district spends approximately $38 per student each year on printing and copying. For a mid-sized district that can easily be a quarter of a million dollars. For a large district, spend easily reaches over a million. Contrast this with school districts who have implemented copying/printing program optimization strategies. These districts averaged just $28.00 per student; that equates to a six to seven figure savings. And with contracts coming up for renewal only every three to five, the opportunity to save may not present itself again until 2022!
The implications of this overspending reach beyond the balance sheet to impact students. For example, with a little over 6 million students enrolled in public school districts in California, and an overspend of $10 per student, that adds up to $62 million. These are real dollars – checks that don’t have to be written to copier/printer vendors and can be re-purposed to fund facility improvements, support program improvements, and put back into the classroom. Imagine the impact nationally.
Reasons for Overspend
What are the reasons why districts overspend? Here are three important reasons to consider:
Paying more than competitive price. According to cost metrics from our last 30 assessments it is clear that a lack of clear requirements in previous RFPs has given opportunity for vendors to pad pricing. This is not only to protect themselves from unknowns, but also, frankly, a way to boost revenue. Other examples include the use of piggyback or cooperative agreements based on another district needs and not yours, and apples-to-oranges bids that obscured or hid critical pricing factors.
Wrong-sized contracts are common as well. It’s easy for a supplier to say “this is what you’ve always had” instead of “this is where you can save.” As a result, overselling by vendors is common, upselling based on speed and functionality rather than actual need. And a lack of consolidation between copier programs, printer networks and print shop strategy can cost you as well.
Poor performance can cost you in ways you had not considered. When a copier goes down the implications to instructional hours can be significant. Our studies show that the impact of one hour of downtime is equal to 8.16 instructional hours. Spread that over the entire district and thousands of instructional hours are at stake. Equipment not serviced to manufacturer’s standards (rather to dealer standards focused on maximizing their profit – and getting machines turned every 36 months instead of 60 months) is common, as are site policies that cause undue wear-and-tear on devices.
Three Ways to Save
The good news is that there is a six to seven figure opportunity to optimize an important part of district operations, but now is the time to act. Where do savings come from? Here are three important areas to consider.
Right-Sizing helps districts prevent over-buying. An independent assessment helps bring non-bias business intelligence to the decision-making process.
Competitive Solicitation and RFPs help prevent over-paying. A vendor-neutral consulting firm helps to ensure maximum competition for pricing, contract guarantees and achieve overall value that actually matches the districts’ needs.
Ongoing Contract Management prevents cost-creep by employing proactive management and assessment of the equipment, contracts and vendors on a daily-weekly-monthly-annual basis instead of relying on the vendor/supplier.
It can be tempting to simply allow your current vendor to simply take care of things. But be careful; that approach will likely to fall short. After all, it’s not in your vendor’s best interest to uncover savings in your current program. 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.
The difference is that we don’t sell anything…and we work for you. For the same reasons you would engage a CPA or legal counsel, an independent consulting firm is your best approach to evaluate your lease agreements and vendor contracts to uncover true savings and improvements. In short, we 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 with some of the biggest districts in the West, and we’d be pleased to explore how we can help you too.