Management material Featured

7:00pm EDT January 26, 2010

You may not realize it, but controlling some of the specific document production factors in your company can have a very substantial impact on your bottom line.

Many document service providers are developing or already offer an initiative called managed print services that can help get those costs under control.

“The idea behind managed print services is to take a look at the entire print output capacity of the customer from all aspects,” says Richard Melez, manager of managed print services for Toshiba Business Solutions. “Typically, copier dealers have always wanted to sell hardware and place multi-functional products (MFPs) out there at customer offices. Generally, those machines run at considerably greater efficiency and less cost than regular printers.”

But replacing traditional printers with MFPs is only one way to reduce document output costs with a managed print services program.

Smart Business spoke with Melez about how you can set up a managed print services program in your company.

What exactly does a managed print services strategy entail?

Typically, copier dealers compete with printers. But elaborate studies have shown how migrating your copy volume from a printer fleet to MFPs can save you enormous amounts of money. Dealers have found along the way that they would show a customer these savings, but in practice customers would not eliminate the less-efficient printers that they previously had.

It is highly recommended that you move those printers or stop using them. But for one reason or another, whether it is inertia within the company, practice or convenience, customers continue making prints on their less-efficient printers.

Managed print services programs are designed to encompass the customer’s entire account. Document service providers wanted to address the workplace inertia situation specifically. So with their infrastructure, service capacity, inventory capacity and distribution capacity, they are able to service and supply not only their own fleet of MFPs but can also provide parts, delivery and everything else for a customer’s competing printing devices. In a nutshell, that is what a managed print services program does — completely manage a company’s output capacity.

What are the major benefits businesses can receive from managing their print services?

One major reason for businesses to use managed print services is the cost savings that result when the document service provider is able to manage your fleet of printing devices. Most companies are really oblivious to what they are spending when it comes to printing on that printer that is sitting on the desk of many people. They simply don’t know the volume; they don’t know what they are spending on cartridges. In many cases, individual departments are paying for supplies, so there is no way of knowing their expenses. Your document service provider has specialized software that tracks all of this.

By managing a company’s print devices, you can bring that last frontier of unmanaged cost to a measurable and quantifiable area. In most cases, it will save a customer somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 percent off what they are currently paying.

Between the document service provider’s software and its knowledge of what pieces of equipment are efficient and which are not, they can move equipment around. For instance, a very efficient machine may be doing very few prints; a very inefficient piece of equipment may be doing a lot of prints. You’ll see, in quantifiable, measurable ways, how you can save enormous amounts of money.

How does the process work?

The first step is a full study conducted by the document service provider. They’ll talk to management and get buy in from them. The company’s executives then identify the deliverables and provide all relevant information. The document service provider will take into account the number of devices, where they are, what they are and how much they are used.

The managed print services team comes up with scenarios on how you can change the complexity of the deployed equipment. They may recommend adding or reducing your number of devices. The program does most of the hard work in determining what a desirable outcome would be. The managed print services team works closely with the customer in determining the desired outcome.

What steps can be taken to combat workplace inertia?

Changing well-engrained work habits is a difficult task. As part of managed print services, a company can implement print management software in the workplace that can help. For instance, if an employee is printing to an expensive printer because he or she doesn’t want to walk far, a message will pop up and say ‘If you continually print from this other printer instead, you’ll save 50 trees this year.’

The software can even stop employees from printing documents on certain printers — whatever the document management team wants. The software can manage where printing is taking place, it can track it, it can recommend printing an alternative way to save money and be better for the environment.

Richard Melez is the manager of managed print services for Toshiba Business Solutions. Reach him at bmelez@tbsohio.com or (216) 525-8366.