Calculating the true cost of print

Posted on Wednesday, November 04, 2015
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By Rhys Lawson
MPS Business Manager


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Working in an industry constantly striving for simplicity and ease of use, I’m frequently reminded that for many customers, print remains a predicament. Customers left puzzled or frustrated by one or more multiple factors making up their print strategy - technology, performance,  maintenance, development and of course, cost.

But why? Many customers are making huge investments in other areas of their IT estates, demanding faster service level agreements and greater uptime; why do we settle for less when it comes to print?

Tip of the iceberg

The reality is that there are many reasons why an organisation may overlook print. For some there is a fear of change, for others a disconnect between print and ‘core IT’ or a concern that ‘managed services’ may cost jobs. All are valid, but in my experience the primary cause is a lack of understanding of the true cost of print. 

 We’re all familiar with the ‘iceberg’ metaphor and it applies well to print. Many organisations I speak with simply don’t recognise the time and budget that goes into print and how fundamentally important it is to the business (as users we don’t recognise this until it’s not available). 

Sound familiar?

So, let’s break it down and understand a typical ‘un-managed’ process. I’m going to start when the printer is either out of toner or consumables and the user contacts IT. Before doing so, I just want to mention a fact I heard at a recent print conference – print is the second most received call to an IT helpdesk. Let that sink in. One of the most basic and uninteresting processes within a business is still affecting users so frequently and wasting the time of skilled IT personnel, who should be focussing on critical (and a lot more exciting) IT projects for the company.  Here’s how the process goes:

  1. IT helpdesk receives a call from a frustrated user as they’re out of toner.
  2. IT have to check all stock cupboards to ensure they’ve not run out.
  3. Often they need to order some more, so time is spent searching the internet to find the best prices to save money.
  4. Follow approval process and place a PO (more time, cost and potentially delay)
  5. Often when stock has run out, additional charges are seen, either for swift delivery or urgent stock, as such the ‘price-checking’ process to save money is redundant.
  6. Once received, IT has to distribute toner to the correct device and re-stock the cupboard. This process could take up to three working days and in some cases, the user(s) may not have been able to print since the initial support request. 

So, now let’s look at a similar process for a device issue or broken printer.

  1. IT helpdesk receive a call (hopefully not the same user), stating that a printer is broken. 
  2. IT have to do basic troubleshooting with the user (who’s getting more frustrated by the minute).
  3. IT visit the printer to apply their experience and training in fixing printers (this normally involves poking and shaking bits).
  4. Once they’ve conceded they need help, they either:
    1. Decide to bin it and buy a new one (a lot of companies do).
    2. Utilise a local service company who’ll charge for time and materials.
      1. The service company arrive and realise they need another part that will take 3/4 days to get into the country.
      2. The service company revisit and fit the part along with a large invoice to be paid.

Ok, so both versions of these process could be considered extreme, however you’d be surprised to find that it’s still often the approach a lot of companies take. 

Print should be no different to any other IT project

Let’s forget it‘s print, and just think about it as another IT project. Where else would you make reactive and ad-hoc decisions that waste countless people’s time, attract unnecessary cost and affect the user’s day-to-day working? The answer is very few, so why should print be any different? 

A true Managed Print Service (MPS) should help you optimise, manage and improve printing and digital workflows.  This means welcomed automation to improve and thus reduce the cost of print services in your business. Most importantly, this approach frees up IT resource to focus on key projects where their time is better deployed. Remember too, most supplies will be ‘proactively managed’ , which means far fewer people need to be involved in the ordering process as inventory will automatically be maintained, thereby eliminating delays as well as reducing cost. 

Softcat has a vast amount of experience delivering Managed Print Services. We appreciate there’s not a one-fit solution for all, but we’ll work with customers to first understand their position and true cost of print and then to find a solution that streamlines, automates and improves their print process and results.

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For more information or to find out more about what Softcat can do to help you manage your print estate, speak to your Softcat account manager or get in touch using the form below and we'll get someone to call you back. 

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