How in-house printing savings are generated with reference to MPS services: Analysing user requirements

Savings.jpgBefore any informed decision can be made regarding an organisation’s hardware and equipment specifications, a Managed Print Solutions (MPS) provider will need to clearly understand and analyse the following:

  • The exact user and business requirements across the entire organisation / print estate (where, what, when, why, internal / external usage, colour / mono, etc.);
  • Specific environmental requirements;
  • The financial implications (e.g. what are the current costs of printing?);
  • What is the overall strategy of the organisation?; and
  • What are the requirements of the ‘culture of the organisation’?

It is critical to analyse and understand the above as “the organisation will otherwise most likely deploy too many or too few devices with too little or too much capacity and functionality. In the end, the users will suffer and costs will eventually escalate out of control”, Jannes du Plooy, Chief Executive Officer of Solution WorX, told SmartProcurement.

So what is meant by ‘user’, ‘business’ and ‘environmental’ requirements? Listed hereunder are the aspects of the analysis that need to be conducted. These aspects of the project plan are extremely important since they are essential in ensuring that the total investment assessment is accurate. Logically, the outcome of this exercise will have a direct impact on an organisation’s print policy. The scoping requirements include:

  • What do users print? (i.e. statements, payroll, contracts, etc.).
  • Where do they print it? (i.e. print room, local device, shared device, special device, over a network to other buildings, etc.).
  • When do they print? (i.e early morning, throughout the day, late evenings, weekends, month-end, year-end, etc.).
  • How often do they print? (i.e. every day, once a week, etc.).
  • What do they use the printing for? (i.e internal / external distribution, filing, backup, customers, special requirements, etc.).
  • Do they currently share devices? (determine the corporate culture).
  • How do they perceive the sharing of devices? (corporate culture).
  • What colour paper do they use? (determine special requirements).

Understanding individual user requirements, as well as the collective requirements (within a user group) could mean that a multi-function device (MFD) is not necessarily the answer to the problem. The collective requirements of some users could mean that users need separate fax, copy, scan and print facilities. For example, using an MFD can result in queuing and inefficiencies that will have a very negative effect on the workplace. Furthermore, understanding collective user requirements will also determine the capital to be spent on the device/s. (Most hardware vendors will in all likelihood supply the customer with the biggest possible device.) However, the cost effective solution might lie in a smaller MFD coupled with a single function device to satisfy user requirements.

When analysing costs, bear in mind that hardware vendors all too often demonstrate the cost of a device based on 100% volume capacity. These ‘cost’ ranges are usually between 12c and 21c per copy for a mid-size device and will include all running costs, except paper. It has, however, been found that devices seldom use more than 10% of their monthly capacity. As a result, vendors will provide the customer with a device that is too small during the proposal phase and customers will then require another device which will have additional cost implications. These additional costs are normally not included in the total cost of printing.

“User requirements are further indicative of the effective use of a print room (where applicable). Technically a print room should be an organisation’s cheapest form of printing and if user requirements are well understood, and the print policy well designed, a dedicated print room could bring about sustainable savings in the total cost of printing”, Du Plooy continued.

The expected growth or decline in users over the duration of the project can, however, only be determined over a period of time as users are, in most cases, not in a position to give you these answers.

Actual usage analysis
The so-called ‘cost of printing’ usually only tells half a story. Actual usage has to be monitored for a minimum period of three months to create an accurate picture of the demographics of the printing environment. The actual breakdown between copy, fax and print, document sizes, finishing, colour requirements, etc has to be analysed individually. For instance, while monitoring usage closely it will become evident what the printing demand is within an organisation, and this will, in turn, help an MPS to calculate optimum queuing and utilisation levels.

It is therefore imperative to first determine user and business requirements before any minimum hardware standards are recommended and decided on. “Hardware and technology are merely the tools to satisfy user requirements and must thus not drive the procurement process. In the case where a single vendor (selected in line with a standardised print policy) cannot accommodate the user / business requirements, a multi-vendor (2 to 3) approach should be followed to eliminate over investment or a lack of functionality in equipment subsequently acquired”, Du Plooy concluded. The MPS provider will then formulate an appropriate request for quotation and recommend a list of reliable vendors to approach.

Jannes du Plooy can be contacted on the details below:
Telephone: +27 86 170 5907
Cell: +27 83 397 7739

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