Managed services deliver affordable print management

Looking at the maze of printing devices in any organization, it is clear we are still a ways off from the completely digitized work environment. Out of necessity, convenience and personal preference, the majority of today's workers still use printers, copiers and fax machines.

Some devices are new, some are old and there's often a diverse collection of multi- and single-function machines, some of which connect to the network and some that do not. One thing is for certain: this tangled web is a maintenance nightmare that is expensive, anything but efficient, and reduces IT staff productivity.

Often called the final frontier in information technology, print management can help control spiraling expenses. These expenses result not only from the cost of the printers, toner and paper, but also from additional hardware, maintenance services and power consumption.

As more organizations look for ways to reduce costs and conserve capital, many are turning to managed print services as a simple way to get a handle on largely-undocumented, unpredictable and often excessive annual printing expenditures.

Managed print solutions can reduce printing costs by as much as 30%. Solutions are customizable and provide a flexible, hassle-free way to procure printing hardware, supplies, service and support in one convenient, bundled contract.

A managed print solution begins with an audit to analyze and document usage patterns and get a handle on where inefficiencies exist and improvements can be made. Done properly, the audit details valuable information including the number and type of printers, locations, users, what services/supplies each requires and how efficiently each is being utilized, both in terms of usage, amount of machines currently in use and required ink type.

Managed print solutions provide estimates on the number of toner and ink cartridges, maintenance kits and other supplies that will be required during the next several years based on current and anticipated print volumes. These solutions can also help determine the right mix of printer types for the environment.

Consolidation is Critical

Consolidation isn't simply a matter of eliminating redundant and high-cost devices. Combining multiple devices into a single, multi-functional unit also positively affects the bottom line. It eliminates wasted paper and other consumable supplies, reduces power usage among those devices by as much as 40% and increases security by making it more difficult to print, copy or fax potentially sensitive information.

Additionally, in the case of businesses with smaller remote offices, consolidation enables the proactive management of costlier work. This includes squeezing the most efficient utilization out of color printers, even as you attempt to reduce printing volume to save on ink.

Finally, optimization and consolidation will likely involve the IT staff more directly with the printing/imaging infrastructure, ensuring a higher level of control.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Managed print solutions provide information as to whether or not it's feasible to leverage the productivity and money-saving benefits built into the latest printer technology while helping to manage costs and conserve capital.

How do you justify the expense of new printing technology when revenue and budget dollars are tight? New printer tech provides ROI fairly quickly because it usually contains cost-effective features, including:

  • Better Price and Performance -- Total cost of document production is one-third to almost one-half less when paper, ink, energy drain and service costs are considered
  • Additional features and functionality -- Most new technologies feature automated ordering, enabling the printer to analyze what it needs, order it from a supplier and have it arrive prior to supplies running out
  • Less Energy -- New technology provides warm-up features that are more energy efficient
  • Reduced physical footprints -- Consolidating to fewer devices frees up needed space
  • Uses Fewer Consumables -- Ink toners contain much more ink, reducing the need to change them or fill the supply closet as often
  • Less Paper, More Productivity -- The two-sided print feature available on many new printers saves trees and paper costs while reducing time spent constantly filling the paper tray
  • Lowers Maintenance Costs -- New technology lasts longer reducing the amount of service calls, new toner-based printers are easier to self-service and most new products include a maintenance service package in the cost

As part of a managed print solution, anticipated volumes establish the price of supplies and service, guaranteeing them for the term of the agreement. This enables organizations to pay only for their needs, usually with no minimums, escalators or page counts to manage.

As simple as printing now seems, most organizations don't understand that moving data opposed to pages is more economical and more efficient. A properly executed print management solution enables businesses to save money and boost productivity.

Read more about desktop in Network World's Desktop section.

Steve Juiris is senior manager, Strategic Sales, CDW LLC

This story, "Managed services deliver affordable print management" was originally published by NetworkWorld.

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