How can I reduce my Printing costs? – Part II

June 30, 2009

Let’s say you already did all the things that I mentioned in the first blog article, or at least as much as you could within your current environment. https://theconnectedcopier.wordpress.com/2009/06/25/how-can-i-reduce-my-printing-costs-lets-start-with-whats-easy-to-do/

What else can be done? There are 3 different strategies that you could look at, and we will discuss the pros and cons of each in this article. First let;s look at the three strategies:

  1. Managed Print Services
  2. Moving as much print volume as possible from your Printers to your MFDs
  3. Rules based printing

Managed Print Services: Either your current MFD dealer, or a company that specializes in this will knock on the door of your CEO or CFO and ask them “How much do you pay for printing?” To which the CEO\CFO will respond “I don’t know”. The Managed Print Services company or MFD dealer will offer to do a free analysis if your CEO\CFO will simply agree to let them come back in and present their findings. They will often make the claim that if I can’t save your company 25 – 40% of what you are paying now for printing then I will not bother you again. The CEO\CFO will typically agree and send them to work with someone high up the food chain in the IT Dept. to get this free study done. This top down selling works well because the Director of IT is not use to saying no to the CEO or CFO when they ask them to do something. If your company is not doing anything but letting your end users print to anything they want, and buy any printer that they want then managed print services will save you money.

This strategy often competes with the next one that we will discuss, although you could do both. If the Managed Print Services company does not also sell & support MFDs they may try to get you to minimize or in some cases remove completely your MFDs and print only to the printers or printer based multi functional printers (MFPs), that they will provide, all for the same “low price of 2 – 4 cents a page (B&W). The argument that the Managed Print Service Company makes is that IF we get rid of your Copier based MFDs you get rid of your leases and that will save you money. That would be true IF a printer or a printer based MFP could do everything that a copier based MFD can do. Can it? They can be equipped with the same basic functions Copy, Print, Scan, Fax, and even the newer printer based MFPs can add applications (like eCopy or AutoStore) just like their Copier based MFD counterparts. What they don’t do well is hold up in year 2, 3, 4, and 5. What they have never done well is handle the pounding that the end users typically give a copier based MFD. The Document Feeders and the Finishers on the printer based MFPs have always been considerably weaker than their copier based MFD counterparts. The truth of the matter is a Copier Based MFD can do everything that a printer can do, but a printer based MFP struggles to do all that a copier based MFD can do. It may be OK in year one, and you may be a hero for showing savings on paper. But when year 2 1/2 – 5 rolls around and they are just not holding up to the work load that your end users put on them gird your loins and prepare for an end user uprising. I would caution you not to remove all of your Copier based MFDs. it is in the best interest of the Manged Print Services company to get all of your clicks, but it is NOT in your best interest.

Moving print volume from printers to MFDs: Now you may have an MFD dealer (AKA: a Copier Company) that currently sells and supports your MFDs. They too want to do a similar study. And even if you are using Managed Print Services they will make the argument that if you move as much volume as possible from the cartridge based printers  to the toner based MFDs you will save significant amounts of money (or even more money if God forbid you are paying for Ink Jet, or Solid Ink Printers). Typical cost for a B&W click on an MFD is under a penny. Typical cost on a manged Print services printer is 2-4 cents. Typical cost on an unmanaged B&W printer is even higher, especially on the older ones.

The MFD dealer will do a pencil sell. They will show you a copy\print center on one of your floors. There are usually 1 or more of these on the floors of most large companies. And they typically look like this; a connected “Copier” (that also scans) sitting next to a High Speed B&W Printer, Sitting next to a Color Printer, Sitting next to a Fax machine. If you were to replace these four devices with one Color\B&W MFD you will save money in several ways. The first is the cost of a toner based MFD will be significantly cheaper than a cartridge based printer. You will see even more dramatic savings on the color side, and many of the small fax machines have astronomical supply costs. You will also save by not having separate maintenance agreements, or buying separate supplies for each of these devices. There is also the cost of power consumption especially on the older non energy star compliant devices. This will also help your companies Green Initiatives. We haven’t even addressed the soft cost of not having 3 print queues and 3 print drivers for your IT Department to support (for EACH one of these copy rooms). Even if you have a managed print program you will save money of you move as much print volume as possible from your cartridge based printers (Color and B&W) to your multi functional devices.

Some MFD dealers will try to get you to remove all of your printers. This is not a realistic goal, but maybe you could remove 90% of the printers, or at least move 90% of the print volume from the cartridge based printers to the MFDs. You might want to consider a combination of both plans above. Move as much volume as possible to the MFDs, and the printers that you can not remove you could put on a manged print plan. Ideally with the same dealer who handles the MFDs.

How can I implement this plan and then check to see if it is really working? It is said that you can’t manage what you don’t measure! So whatever strategy you decide to employ it is important that you continue to check to make sure that the policies that your company put in place are continued to be followed after the initial push. Unfortunately unless you continue to monitor these practices and the associated cost the environment that you fought so hard to fix will quickly deteriorate to it’s former state.

So you could simply use the initial tool that either your Office Equipment (Copier) Dealer or your Managed Print Services dealer used to do the initial study. Most of the companies that do these studies will want to keep these monitoring tools running on your network to automatically capture the printing clicks for billing purposes, usually for minimal to no charge to you.

Finally, you could choose to implement Rules Based Printing: This can be done with a number of different solutions, Canon’s UniFLOW solution, or Print Audit’s solution come to mind, there are of course others too. What rules based printing allow you to do is set up rules and responses to different printing situations. For instance if someone wanted to print 1-5 pages they could do that at their local desktop printer. But if they wanted to print 5 – 199 pages that would go to a workgroup MFD that was in their department. If they wanted to print 200 pages or more that would be sent to the companies Print Center. This is just one example of a simple set of rules.

This can be done typically in three ways, some more “heavy handed” then others. The lightest touch is to simply set a policy that the company wants the end users to print all of their larger jobs to the MFDs and then simply track the end users, and have a conversation with those who do not follow this policy.  The next lightest touch would be a pop up message that simply tells the end user how much his\her print job will cost, and also show how much they will save the company if they redirect the job to the less expensive, recommended alternative. With this level of enforcement you can allow the end user to choose to override the recommendation. Their choice to override is duly recorded in a report and they may be called upon later to explain their choice, which may or not have a legitimate business reason behind it. The last way, the most heavy handed way, does not give the end user a choice and simply informs them where they can pick up their print job. You will really need buy in at the highest level of the company to enforce this form of rules based printing, because there will be some push back from the end users.

I hope that this gives you something to think about regarding some of the other things that your company can do to drive down it’s cost of printing. I would recommend that if you are planning to do any of these that you form a task force or a comity that includes Purchasing, Operations, and the IT Department. If you have an Office technology dealer that is a real business partner with your company they will be more than willing to provide their expertise to help you do this study.  Once you have done the initial cost savings analysis present it to your CEO or CFO and get there blessing before you implement it.

Hope this helps!

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh


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