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Effective Print Management (Part 2)

By Luella Fernandes and Clive Longbottom, Quocirca Ltd. //

 

Paper isn’t going anywhere.

The office printing environment has undergone a significant change in recent years, characterised by a convergence in technology. Standalone photocopiers have given way to networked digital copiers and fax machines have largely been replaced by scanning and email. The advent of the multifunction peripheral (MFP) has done much to improve employee productivity.

These devices can operate as sophisticated document processing hubs with the ability to print, copy, scan, email and route document-to-document management applications. As such they can provide a vital ‘on-ramp’ and ‘off-ramp’ for document workflow processes through document capture, distribution and storage.

Indeed, MFPs are now integral to the IT infrastructure and, despite the use of digital communications, most businesses continue to rely on printing to some extent. The ‘paperless office’ has failed to materialise; in fact the emergence of smartphones and iPads in the office as a result of bring your own device (BYOD) has led to new printing needs for today’s increasingly mobile enterprise workforce. A recent Quocirca study revealed that just over 60%1 of enterprises are interested in mobile print capabilities for their employees.

Print volume in the office is also being driven by the increased demand for colour output, as the affordability and performance of colour printing devices means they are no longer confined to specialist applications. As a result, many businesses are using inhouse production printers to print material that would have previously been fulfilled by external print houses.

Yet, although printing remains central to many business processes, businesses are struggling to contain costs – both financial and environmental – while still improving productivity. This is often due to a patchwork of devices – printers and MFPs – that are not centrally managed, meaning that few organisations have a true insight into what is being printed, where and by whom. An uncontrolled printing environment can leave an organisation exposed to more waste, higher costs, lower productivity and increased risks.

The printing challenge

Many organisations are struggling to manage a fragmented print environment. This is typically characterised by multiple devices from different manufacturers, requiring different consumables and support contracts. Fragmented ownership often means that many devices may be underutilised, printing fewer pages than they are able to and standing idle for large parts of the day. Device proliferation also leads to a wide range of models, manufacturers and printer drivers that create support headaches for helpdesk staff and space problems for the extensive inventory of spare parts and consumables. Very often there is no single view of print usage and costs across devices. According to recent Quocirca SMB research, only 20% of businesses with 250–500 employees have a centralised print management tool that can track print usage on all devices in the organisation. The same research showed that less than 30% of respondents are satisfied with the visibility they have into print costs and usage. Indeed, reducing on-going costs and understanding usage were the top highest concerns.

 

 

One of the UK’s largest universities, Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), has 24,000 students and approximately 3,000 staff. It operates across 26 buildings with three main campuses.  The University provides print facilities for students and staff, at a total cost, including external printing, of nearly £1.7m in 2007 and with a print volume estimated to be 18 million pages.

Business challenge

LJMU was facing department-level pressure to cut budgets. LJMU operated a fragmented and unmanaged printer and copier fleet, which was disjointed and complex for staff, students and the help desk. LJMU was dealing with the hidden cost of consumables, maintenance by many different vendors, having a mix of paper suppliers, as well as multiple departments per floor that each had their own budget. With no centralised control, it was extremely difficult to account for costs. A strategic review identified the need to improve facilities, reduce the volume of material printed, encourage the use of environmentally friendly processes, simplify the charging process and provide the means to capture hard copy information.

Solution chosen

LJMU chose a managed print service (MPS), enhanced by the Equitrac print management system from Nuance. This provided students, faculty and administrators with secure location- and device-independent printing. The solution increased budgetary control while reducing printing costs for departments and students alike, cutting waste, and consolidating the print fleet to 220 Ricoh MFPs.

The Equitrac Follow-You Printing™ feature allows staff and students to retrieve their print job from any of the 26 buildings. Follow-You printing provides users the convenience of one virtual printer queue that works seamlessly across three servers. Using standard Windows features, users automatically connect to whichever of the three print servers are currently available. If one server goes down, users can still print at all times automatically through the others.

All prints are held securely for 18 hours with a security card being the only way to release the job. Equitrac only charges for colour pages where they exist in a document, which makes the printing of documents that contain only a few colour pages a lot cheaper – in some cases 600% cheaper than before.

Benefits

The initial aim was to save £100,000 annually. Moving to a central (managed) print solution did more for LJMU. The managed print service included 220 Ricoh MFPs and Equitrac software, resulting in total savings of £310,000 over a three year period, with savings increasing year over year. Automatic power cut off after two hours, use of recycled paper and Follow-You Printing has reduced the university’s carbon footprint dramatically. In addition to the reduced carbon footprint, an automatic erase of uncollected print jobs results in 4.5 million pages that are not printed each year. With 18 million pages printed annually, the unprinted 4.5 million accounts for 20% of that volume, saving the university an additional £80,000 annually. There are still further savings possible for the University: it estimates that additional cost savings can come from redirecting jobs to the print room and monitoring external print suppliers. Each of these initiatives could save an estimated £100,000.


Moving forward

The old adage of “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” holds true – organisations need to put the tools in place to proactively manage their print environment. Intelligent print management allows an organisation to implement efficient printing practices, improve workflows and minimise printed output. To be most effective, particularly for large enterprises operating a heterogeneous fleet, print management should be considered as a vital part of a managed print service (MPS). Using a best of breed method provides a consistent approach to managing accounting, cost recovery and security across a mixed fleet environment.

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