What to do FIRST if cutting costs in Imaging and Printing is on the agenda this year

Many would say the first thing to do is renegotiate service contracts and purchase agreements for better pricing or even eliminate them altogether. Others would say don’t print so much; use only B&W because color is expensive; get better pricing on supplies; buy less expensive equipment and don’t replace devices that break; and others may be considering Managed Print Services to cut costs.

Guess what! They’re all good ideas but not the best FIRST thing to do to get the most cost savings! I am going to let you in on a well kept secret – the first thing to do is learn what you “Don’t Know”.  As a leader in business we often don’t want to admit that there are things about our business that we don’t know, but with 20+ years of business experience I have seen it is what we “don’t know” that is where we stand to gain the most.
So, where do you start to learn what you do and don’t know about your Imaging and Printing environment? Following are questions to ask that will give you a 360 degree view of your imaging and printing environment including financial, operational, and technical. Be sure as you are going through the questions not to focus on what the answers are. Instead, look for how many of the questions you are able to get answers to and how vague or complex those answers are. Watch for responses that start out with “Well it depends …” or “last I checked”. This indicates that there is no set answer which means there is an opportunity for improvement.

·         FINANCIAL QUESTIONS:

o   How am I paying for supplies, service, and new equipment for my printers and multi-function devices I have today?
o   Are some leased and some purchased?
o   Are supplies on contract or do I pay invoice to invoice?
o   Is there one monthly invoice or do I get invoiced for every order?
o   Do I pay for a service contract or do I get devices repaired on a per incident basis or just replace devices when they break?
o   Do I do a mixture of all of the above and can I tell what I am actually spending each month for everything or are the costs distributed among several locations or buried in other expenses?
·         OPERATIONAL QUESTIONS:
o   Who supports my equipment today, i.e. internally and externally?
o   Is there a difference in support and service for small, locally connected devices versus larger networked devices? Often personal devices are handled by the user which may be replaced when they break and networked devices are supported by IT and have a service contract for repair when they break or need maintenance.
o   Do I have one service provider for my multi-function/copier equipment and one for printers?
o   Does my IT organization handle my printers?
o   Does my staff handle their own support on their desktop devices?
o   Who makes sure that we have supplies for the devices and who manages this?
o   Can I tell what the device availability is for all of our machines?

·         TECHNICAL QUESTIONS:

o   Do I have an inventory of my printing and multi-function devices?
o    Does it tell me the age of my fleet?
o   Can I determine the number of pages that I print or whether they are B&W or color company wide?
o   Do I know how many devices are locally connected and how many are on the network or standalone?
o   Can I identify what my device to employee ratio is?
o   Does my fleet employ appropriate security measures to prevent business exposure?
After going through this exercise, you will have a good understanding of what you “do know” and “don’t know” about your imaging and printing environment. If yours is like many businesses, you will find that you “Don’t Know” more than you do know. If that is the case, then your next step is to learn about what you “don’t know”. Uncovering the answers to the above questions will guide you to the best ways to cut costs without sacrificing business performance.
To get the answers you need, consider a professional evaluation of your imaging and printing environment by an experienced Managed Print Services consultant. This service is often at no charge and will reveal the answers to the questions above. In many cases businesses have realized an improvement in performance and savings of 10-30% and more after completing an evaluation and adopting recommendations.
For businesses in the Metro Atlanta area and surrounding Georgia locations, contact us at Superior Document Solutions to learn more about what an evaluation can do for your business. If you are not in the Georgia area, but would like to know who might be an appropriate provider in your area you can read more about who offers Managed Print Services and related solutions in my White Paper What Should I Look for in a Managed Print Services Provider.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marge Mortenson is a Managed Print Services consultant and has been working in IT Services and Sales for 20+ years. She focuses on streamlining and simplifying imaging and printing environments to allow businesses to get the most from their technology investment. Marge conducts comprehensive printing and imaging evaluations and provides clients with actionable plans for optimizing their imaging and printing devices, streamlining workflows through electronic document solutions, and simplifying support plans to minimize monthly costs and meet industry requirements. Marge can be found on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter.
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