Guest Column | January 16, 2013

Four Guiding Principles For Advancing Managed Print Services

Ken Neal

By Ken Neal, Director of Corporate Communications, Canon Business Process Services

In an ever-increasing need to drive profit, most companies are consistently on the hunt for new ways to do more with less – or simply put, cut costs. According to industry analysts however, many companies spend as much as three to six percent of revenue on document process management but do not have a clear idea of how to manage this expense.

For many organizations, document management costs are difficult to quantify because they are spread out among a variety of budgets. This includes print/copy processes and equipment. For example, the information technology (IT) department manages printers, the facilities management department oversees multi-function devices and the procurement department focuses on negotiating the lowest cost on bulk equipment purchases. The result is fragmented responsibility, as few organizations have an executive with full accountability for managing print and copy infrastructure. Ultimately, no one monitors total costs of the print / copy operation, nor does anyone have a clear understanding of all the equipment that is being leased or owned. In other words, many companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per month on document output processes for which no one person or team is truly responsible.

Companies are becoming aware that in order to reduce document management costs and increase efficiencies they need to change their management process. Going down this path is likely to include deploying document management experts, whether internally or on an outsourced basis. Those experts can help facilitate changing the entire business function in order to deliver financial savings and operational efficiencies beyond equipment acquisition and per-page printing costs.

Leveraging a Managed Print Services Model

Many companies measure their office print and copy output primarily with “cost per click” pricing and basic maintenance supplied by a vendor. However, a number of forward-thinking businesses are moving beyond this by leveraging today’s more advanced managed print services (MPS) model.

MPS centralizes the print and copy responsibility, and creates an integrated bundle of services, consulting, software, parts and supplies, so that the organization can make smarter decisions that yield solid business benefits. These benefits generally include reducing costs by as much as 30 – 40 percent, and increasing overall enterprise efficiency, security and sustainability. The MPS approach, whether managed internally or on an outsourced-basis, treats the print and copy process as a comprehensive bundle of services provided to the organization’s end users.

The benefits of going down this path will generally lead to several meaningful efficiencies and cost savings, including:

  • Lowering paper and toner / ink usage
  • Decreasing energy consumption
  • Consolidating equipment / maintenance costs
  • Containing the use of color printing
  • Leveraging automation for remote diagnostics and other support functions

In addition to tapping the right outside expertise, a new document output management strategy must also be championed by senior organizational executives, as these influential leaders will help win internal support and drive positive results. Launching a successful MPS initiative depends on gathering essential data about current print/copy processes, establishing a clear strategic vision for the future, setting measurable goals and then monitoring progress while tactical steps are taken to implement the plan.

Canon Business Process Servicesgenerally recommends four guiding principles for optimizing an organization’s document process management operation:

Step One: Plan the entire output infrastructure and how it should be managed. This step should be guided by a thorough assessment of the company’s current and projected document management output needs and the creation of a map that guides the operation from its “current state” to its “future state.” The needs assessment phase is essential for developing a clear path to maximum efficiencies, cost savings and supported business processes.

Step Two: Implement resources including superior tools, organizational infrastructure and processes that will support an optimized MPS program. This includes appointing accountable management, as well as an onsite team to support the process. Further, the team should identify appropriate vendors, including the consideration of an outsourced provider to help oversee the software, device and training transformation, as well as help manage complex service level agreements (SLAs) necessary to recognize the maximum potential cost savings available.

Step Three: Improve the MPS program and the business over time through digital equipment functionality and methodologies that can be integrated with business systems to enhance workflow, information management, compliance and more. The program should create a variety of detailed reports on program performance to measure savings and efficiencies, as well as specific performance deltas from the original plan laid out in step one. Some valuable data that these reports may reveal include under- or over-utilization of print / copy devices, significant changes in volume or in the use of color versus black and white printing and longer than anticipated maintenance times

Step Four: Sustain cost-savings and the environmental sustainability initiatives through best practices. Strategies that can reduce paper, equipment, energy consumption and waste should be further explored. Companies that consistently put the following business practices in place will optimize their MPS implementations and subsequent cost-savings:

  • Consolidate equipment by replacing single-function devices and desktop printers with networked MFPs as much as possible
  • Reduce page volume via duplex (double-sided) printing, scanning print documents, eliminating banner pages, creating “follow me print” capabilities
  • Purchase ink in bulk
  • Leverage other “smart” technologies, including a Personal Mail Box, Fax-From-Desktop, Scan-to-E-mail/File Folder, Follow-me-Printing and Document Routing

Collectively, these four principles help advance the effectiveness of an organization’s MPS program. They enable it to increase efficiencies, improve the entire document process management function, cut costs and meet environmental sustainability objectives, yielding measurable, incremental business value with just one line item in the budget.