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Developing a Centralized Copier Management Program

Matching historical output data to the recommended monthly output of each device in the entire fleet is the key to optimizing copier/MFD fleet performance.

November 2012 By Ray Chambers
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Ever since a highly respected IT research and advisory think tank published a study several years ago in which it opined that 1 to 3 percent of an organization's revenue was spent on printing and printing-related costs, managers and administrators have been trying to figure out how to optimize their spend on document printing solutions. You've all seen the hype.

  • There's the Managed Print Services (MPS) model where equipment vendors or document solutions consultants try to convince you to throw out all of your distributed desktop inkjet, laser printers and FAX machines so they can sell you larger (more expensive) devices and you can do the same work with fewer machines. Somehow this is supposed to be more "efficient." Never mind that you'll be expected to replace a lot of machines that you own with very expensive new ones.
  • There's the procurement model where well-intentioned purchasing managers negotiate with vendors to get the best possible price for copiers/multi function devices (MFDs).
  • There's a subset of the procurement model widely used in most levels of government where purchasing officials work with vendors to establish "state contract" prices, which may be significantly lower than "list" prices. It is not unusual to see state contracts provide copiers and MFDs for 50 percent or more off of the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price.
  • In higher education there's the consortia model where a group of colleges and universities join together to pool their demand in an attempt to leverage a better price.

All of these models have their strong points. There is no doubt that vendors are more likely to extend larger discounts to customers that buy more product. That just makes sense.

The only problem is that they don't address what is, in my opinion, the root determinant of copier costs: The purchasing contracts and volume pricing agreements rarely match copier output rates (copies per minute) to historical demand. The number of copies a machine is expected to make is one of the selection criteria—possibly the most important one—in choosing a copier, and yet it's usually overlooked.

A Daunting Task

Buying a copier can be a daunting task. There are many different features to consider. Copier companies have loaded machines with features we may want but don't need, and we're not sure how to navigate the selection process.

Your Fleet Management Program

What should your fleet management program contain? Here are our suggestions.

  1. A list of every machine in the fleet and the average monthly volume for that device.
  2. An all-inclusive cost per copy that covers the machine, all service, and all consumables (everything except paper and staples).
  3. A requirement for vendors to match the volume for each machine to the historical volume on that device at that location.
  4. A single pool that includes all copies made on all machines and is reconciled annually. The size of the pool should be a percentage of the total pool to provide a cushion for variations in demand. This means that once per year the vendor will total all of the copies made and calculate the overage. It also means that your organization won’t be penalized if some machines make less than their minimum as long as the pool total is met.
  5. An overage rate to be charged for copies over the minimum (above). The overage should be in the neighborhood of one-half cent per copy.
  6. List the functionality you want included on each machine. This might include the ability to make copies, scan, fax, duplex and connect to the network to name a few.
  7. Service standards, including service call response rate.
  8. A machine/service standard. I use a three-strikes model: if a machine experiences the same problem three or more times, the vendor is required to replace it with a like-for-like device at the vendor’s expense.
  9. Require the vendor to provide loaners when a device is out of service for more that 24 hours.
  10. Require the vendor to read meters and present an invoice in both electronic and paper format containing the information you want to see in the format you want.
  11. Be sure to include a cancellation clause.


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