Fleet Assessment: Wrap-up
Business machine dealers can and do provide their customers with solutions that address pain-points related to printing environments. This is possible when a sound managed print services program is implemented.
But before such a program is put in place, unknown variables such as who initiates the print jobs, what equipment is being used and how many pages are being printed must be discovered if the dealer hopes to expose and then minimize high printing costs.
Unmanaged printing causes uncontrollable spending which leads to an eroding bottom line. But learning and defining the variables is not enough. One must first determine what the customer would like to achieve, and this can only be realized over time.
Being a good partner is essential for long term business success. When a prospect senses that a provider is not operating in the best interests of their business, they will come up with objections to assessment offers.
Partnering with the customer to learn how they envision their cost reduction program will look brings them into the discovery process. This collaboration can lead the dealer’s print management champion and the customer’s project advocate to develop a process for change.
To begin this course of action, tasks like the following should all be considered:
- Determine members of the project team
- Identify the current imaging process (printed output flowing throughout the business)
- Inventory the supply cabinets
- Gather supply cost and purchase documentation
- Locate machines and map placement
- Acquire configuration pages
- Identify equipment connectivity and status reporting capability
- Calendar assessment and review timetables
Responsibilities can be assigned and a plan of how objectives will be communicated and managed throughout the project should also be defined. The end objective for such discovery should be to have the team use collected information to establish an attainable goal.
Once the process team has defined opportunities, and timeline has been determined, the imaging fleet assessment can begin. Initial phases of fleet discovery can be done with or without software, but it is important to note, software will be used at some point for ongoing measurement and control. It is nearly impossible to obtain reliable usage detail without continuous monitoring.
Installing collection software establishes a starting point for volume output to be determined. Keeping the software in place provides free-flowing information about the fleet. Timelines decided upon during the discovery phase keeps the process on track. Project leaders should be monitoring the assessment progress and ‘ticking off’ tasks and objectives as benchmark dates pass and items are completed.
Good assessments take time. Better assessments take more time.
As measurement continues, installed software will begin to reveal imaging machine usage. Establishing output trends and obtaining exceptional results from a few weeks of gathered data is simply not realistic. Better assessments are usually run over 30-60 days and many take longer for real machine usage to be established. To assist with comprehensive imaging analysis, dealers should try to retrieve historical output data from as many sources as possible in effort to triangulate usage for highest accuracy.
While the collection software gathers information, connectivity and reporting challenges can be identified, and remedial actions noted for future device management. Locally connected printers and devices that report status information in minimal detail may require special management accommodations. This is an important piece of the print management puzzle as supply and service fulfillment is taken into account.
Using real-time volumes, gathered supply information and established service fulfillment processes, MPS providers can then calculate total cost of ownership (TCO) and cost per page (CCP). When assessments include actual supply replacement and service frequencies, long term solutions can be determined as TCO analysis details the current outlay needed to operate the imaging fleet.
Observing how print is processed within the organization and using real-time collected data, volumes can be compared to manufacturer’s monthly output recommendations. CPP analysis will show where unneeded, inefficient or costly equipment is currently in use. Service providers can then make suggestions of machine placement, exchanges, consolidation, and in many cases outright removal. With the right analysis, an improved printing workflow for the business will begin to emerge.
As noted above, the best assessments take into account multiple factors, have benchmarks for when specific actions will occur, and are usually NOT free.
NOTE – Proper analysis of gathered information requires experience; professional services are rarely free and people offering “Free” assessments may not provide comprehensive managed services. Free assessments may not provide the best value.
Including achievement milestones ensures that the assessment project stays on track. Determination of implementation phases, inclusion of multiple review points to share analysis, and time to analyze the data all need to be defined.
Now is the time to compile the data and share the findings with the group. Emerging details can be used to help shape a print management program individualized to the needs of the end user. Once the collected data has been analyzed and presented, individual program steps can be implemented. Great MPS plans also include feedback loops for continuous and on-going checks and balances. In this way corrective changes can be made as the dealer and user becomes more involved in the program.
The “meat-and-potatoes” of any print management plan should be centered on what the program does for the customer or prospect while allowing the dealership to fulfill contractual obligations that are profitable. Many dealers start with supply management, then add service fulfillment shortly thereafter.
Caution – Dealers tell us that unless they develop a “Supply Fulfillment Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)”, their foray into print management can become expensive. Make sure your dealership has SOPs in place for Supply Fulfillment, for Service Management, for Asset Management, and any other processes you plan to offer your customers.
Successful dealers take into account, not only what they know they can do, but plan for eventualities as well. Unforeseen printing and service conditions often add a layer of expense to the services that can be offered. All factors should be considered so contractual obligations can be met. Examples may include:
- What kind of print jobs are done
- Media on which print is imposed (envelopes, labels, high gloss paper, cardstock, etc.)
- Environment where the imaging devices are located
- Percentage of fleet under management (do unmanaged devices use managed device supplies)
- Replenishment supplies to be used (OEM, remanufactured, high yield, etc.)
Fully detailed programs include asset management as well as control of where print jobs are to be sent. Reducing the imaging fleet to include low operating cost equipment, capable of precise reporting helps in the long-term implementation of a comprehensive print strategy. As noted, operating costs may make certain devices less desirable for management, and all machines need to be identified and their disposition included in the final print management program.
… In Summary
Uncontrolled printing is one of the biggest challenges customers and dealers face; one in which they should work cooperatively to eliminate. A well designed managed print program should be an end to end solution that encompasses:
- Discovery – Dealers and business machine users must work together to determine objectives, set up a print management team and establish timelines for goals to be achieved.
- Measurement – Dealers and business machine users should determine an accurate device inventory, including connectivity, and obtain current inventory supplies and historical purchasing documentation.
- Examination –Based on assessment survey results, equipment usage patterns and operational (TCO) costs should be determined and a printing workflow established.
- Design – Using collected data and information analysis, the individualized print management program can be put together, timelines established, and then implemented.
- Control – Sound print management plans include real-time machine monitoring, service and supply fulfillment, asset management, and a print reduction strategy. Plans also include checks and balances and feedback loops to make sure the developed plan is followed and is working.
Comprehensive print management is not easy, but then neither is accomplishing anything worthwhile. Once dealers and their customers begin to see what can be achieved, opposition barriers can be eliminated. In the end, assessments provide the means for customer-dealer, win-win relationships and are simply part of a well organized managed services program.