User to Device Ratios are Junk
Hardware vendors and solutions providers use User:Device ratios as a measurement of right-sizing a fleet and state that Ideal Optimization is between 7:1 and 10:1. Some industry analysts, using the ratio for the same purpose, set the ideal optimization between 5:1 and 8:1.
Optimizon’s position is that User:Device ratios are not appropriate for use as a right-sizing methodology. While User:Device ratios can be used for establishing a model for device placements within a particular fleet (i.e. based on a site with x number of users, you should have x number of devices), the only way to create the model and the right-sizing methodology for the devices within the model is through a Complete and Objective Document Output Assessment.
What’s Easy Might Not Be What’s Right..
User:Device ratios are easy to talk about, and using ratios make the sales person’s job of deciding what equipment to place in the fleet easy, but there is a severe disconnect between making right-sizing decisions based on ratios and what benefits the client actually receives.
From a practical standpoint, in many environments with less than 100 users at a site, it is very difficult to implement a User:Device ratio above 5:1 when the physical layout of the site is split between floors or between buildings and when there are different user groups whose workflow would butt heads if they were to share equipment (think warehouse users and accounts payable trying to use the same device).
From a process standpoint, significant reduction in the number of printing and copying devices should only follow process innovation. If you reduce the number of devices but don’t give the users new processes, efficiency will suffer.
User:Device Right-Sizing Equals Higher Costs
Furthermore, ratios in the range of 8:1 and higher may not lead to the significant cost-reduction you’re looking for, and in many cases may actually lead to increased costs. When you severely limit the number of devices, you force the need to apply the highest common denominator (in terms of the equipment configuration and cost of operation) to more volume than should be associated with that cost of operation.
For example, if you were to apply an 8:1 ratio to site with 24 users, the site would be allowed 3 devices. If the site has a need for color printing that is produced by only a few of the users, you would have to decide whether one of the three devices would be right-sized for those 2 users, leaving the other 22 users to share two devices, or whether one of the three devices will be sized for 1/3 of the usage but be equipped with color capability, which significantly increases the cost of the hardware.
How Then, Should We Right-Size?
The bottom line is that the only way to determine what your fleet costs should be and to tell how many devices you should have in your fleet is by doing a Complete and Objective Document Output Assessment.