You might not always think it, but sometimes the first place to start is right in front of you – or more precisely, down the corridor, past Clive’s office, and next to the coffee machine – at the printer.
IDC, a global technology insight research provider, affirms that 90% of companies do not know how many printers they have, let alone if they are properly utilizing their print assets. A staggering statistic. Not only is this sector within businesses continually ignored, the majority of companies will not even take the time to manage their printing habits efficiently – so they couldn’t even save money if they wanted to. It is overlooked and accepted as part of the running costs; a rather lazy approach. So what can be done?
The premise of Managed Print Services, or MPS, has been around since the late eighties, so it isn’t an entirely new concept; you just might not have heard about it unless you were a facilities or IT manager, until now.
MPS is a system for streamlining costs related to printing and document workflow across a whole business; by reducing suppliers, e.g for your paper needs, reducing and optimizing assets (number of printers), and reducing the amount of paper and consumables (toner) used, which has the added benefit of making a company more eco-efficient.
A full managed service now basically means outsourcing full control and monitoring of a business’ print cost, including sometimes the counter intuitive measure of a print company helping reduce or even cut out the amount printed; and all this means a business can save up to 15% of their current print services spend. Since printing costs for a large business or public organisation can run well into the millions, that can mean savings of hundreds of thousands of pounds; and for smaller businesses the difference between being in the red and breaking even. And for some members of staff, it means they keep their job!
New software development in MPS means you can manage printer needs with more detail and regularity – one example being you can even manage all your printer requests in the cloud – that’s right the printer service in the sky, saving paper, time, and money – with all your printing management handled remotely.
Chris Holgate, Head of Sharp Global Services explained to Humans Invent that the cost saving measures are there to be seen in black and white, and the answer is simply a detailed consultation of a businesses printer services, and the implementation of a more efficient system.
“As a hard dollar number in terms of savings at the end of the year on your balance sheet we are looking at up to 15% of the average cost on print services. We have one example where we saved a company nearly 1 million Euros, in terms of spend from where they were at the beginning of the process to where they are today,” Holgate explains.
“The process begins with a consultation, and there we see how we can manage, transform and save money. We normally look to manage & reduce the existing assets whilst agreeing an operational & commercial best practice model of transformation, e.g the number of printers per knowledge worker. While Sharp offers a great array of printers, what we try to do is make the office space more sustainable. As an example if you look at an open plan office scenario, it isn’t cost effective to have a printer on everyone’s desk. But for another office they might not necessarily need an MFP (multi-functional printer). It is about assessing what a business is doing wrong in its management of these systems, and then to see how best to work collaboratively to change the culture of the company and how it manages its services.”
MPS isn’t just purely about reducing costs, it is about efficiency, and importantly cutting down on paper wastage as much as possible – as we take steps towards a more efficient office.
In terms of reducing costs, the main factors are making double sided printing the default, not allowing emails to be printed in colour, or even web pages to be printed at all. Then the rest is pure document workflow management, including accurate measurement and control of printing by individual users, devices and departments – while a remote management system will also save time and money, with 23% of IT support calls in offices being printer related, according to IDC. That could be two hours out of someone’s day talking about a printer blockage – when they could be contributing to the business.
“Sharp printers & MFP’s incorporate OSA – Open Systems Architecture,” Holgate tells Humans Invent. “This allows you to integrate your fleet of MFPs into your network and core business applications, basically allowing you to communicate directly from your networked printer, without the need for a PC. An example would be if you receive a document in the post and you want to scan it and send the file to your personal archive. Our secure document workflow solution will personally recognise you when you access the printer to scan the document, and will immediately transfer the document to your personal archive on a shared drive on the network or your existing document management system. In terms of money and the environment, this saves you time, bypassing your desktop and going straight to your server, and you don’t need to print it. We actually have software that following the scan, would then send the document straight to the cloud network for storage, which is very useful for smaller businesses, as we could host a secure document solutions system for you; saving time and money.”
But this system isn’t just directed at printing, it is your whole office network. The software also syncs with Sharp’s electronic whiteboards, allowing all notes from a meeting to be immediately emailed to your personal account, network folder, or Drop Box – Further enhancing document & information security – how many times have you entered a meeting room & seen confidential meeting notes left on the flipchart?
“Using an electronic whiteboard during a meeting, you can save the notes, images, and slides, and then send all the records of the meeting to all the attendees via email,” Holgate says. “So by the time you return to your desk, you have all the information, minutes, and everything you need to get on with the job in hand – cutting out any transcribing, printing or physical note sharing. Another way of making the office space more efficient.”
As the UK European & Global unemployment rate hits 8.3%, 9.8% & 6.2% respectively and looks set to rise, anything that increase business efficiencies & reduce cost’s , without cutting staff has got to be good news.
Many large corporations and companies employ staff who look after printing and copying, in a printer room, and according to Holgate, these members of staff could be taken off the pay roll, and absorbed into a new streamlined managed print service.
“Some companies have copy rooms, or mail rooms, with their own staff who run mail around the building,” Holgate explains. “In some scenarios we can even take these staff off your wage bill, and employ them under Sharp – offering them a career path that is more in line with their core job function; this type of document & image workflow outsourcing ensures that your on site copy/mail room staff are up to date with technology & workflow best practice, thus leaving you with peace of mind to focus on your core business”
As the headlines continually revolve around cuts of staff, it is time for more business leaders to take a closer look at areas of their business that are just wasting money – with print services being the first port of call.
Have a look in the office tomorrow at just how much paper and time is wasted every day due to the office printer. If you look a little closer, that paper bin may just start to look like waste paper basket full of cash. With one call, technology could help, and ultimately save a hard working employee their job.