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.

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.

Ray Chambers, CGCM, MBA, has invested over 30 years managing and directing printing plants, copy centers, mail centers and award-winning document management facilities in higher education and government.

Most recently, Chambers served as vice president and chief information officer at Juniata College. Chambers is currently a doctoral candidate studying Higher Education Administration at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). His research interests include outsourcing in higher education and its impact on support services in higher education and managing support services. He also consults (Chambers Management Group) with leaders in both the public and private sectors to help them understand and improve in-plant printing and document services operations.
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