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Managed vs. Non-Managed Devices

Copiers, MFPs, and Printers.  Every business has them, right?  And the hassles that go with them too.  High maintenance mechanical technology in close proximity and contact with end users dozens of times a day – what could possibly go wrong?

Imaging machines are often counted among some of the most frustrating pieces of equipment in the office.  Talk with any IT provider and it will not be long before they begin to drift into, “So I got this call the other day …”

Think about it, a copy machine is designed to pick up a single piece of paper, channel it into a feeder, cycle it through the machine, apply toner in a specific pattern at a specific time, possibly sort and collate the output, then run a staple through the corners … and then repeat maybe 30-60 times a minute.  It’s a complex mechanical process.  MFPs, printers, scanners and fax machines do the similar things, though often on a much smaller scale.

And the above challenges do not take into account the operating cost of the machines in use.  Many times there are multiple brands, and different models within a brand spread around the building or campus.  Different equipment requires dissimilar supplies and toner cartridges and parts are not interchangeable.

The trick then is to minimize the number of devices that are to be managed while maximizing the efficiency of the streamlined fleet that remains.  How does one do that?

To the numbers

I once read a series of postings in a chat forum largely made up of technicians and IT people.  It was quite entertaining until one telling comment hit home.  To paraphrase: “People who requisition personal printers are lazy users who won’t walk 10 feet to a centrally located MFP.  After our new print server was set up, I learned there were more printers than employees!  I then discovered we spent more than $100k a year on toner.  The sad thing … there is probably more than that in our supply cabinets and I am always seeing empties in the trash.” I believe personal printer users have no idea of the cost implications or waste they are creating.  In fact, most people who work for larger organizations have no grasp for the money spent on supplies in general and this includes many people at administration levels.

(Years ago I worked for Home Depot – Imagine my surprise when I learned the store’s toilet paper budget was $900 a month!)

There is no question personal printers are inexpensive to acquire.  But what is their true cost of operation?

Studies by InfoTrends (now Buyers Lab) and Gartner Group indicate the typical office laser printer creates about 100 pounds of waste a year — not including paper.  On average, the typical office worker prints 34 pages a day (up 20% of which are never used).  Together this means a single person using a personal printer puts 100 pounds of trash in the dumpster and wastes away nearly four reams of paper every year.

How many “typical office workers” and “personal printers” does your company have?

Enter the Equipment/Fleet Assessment

Much has been written about printer and copier assessments.  Articles can be found all over the internet and even in our own blog (see Imaging Fleet Assessment for Device Management … ).  I won’t rehash how to do one here; however I will note the basics:

A good place to start is to know and understand how your own company processes print, copies, scans, faxes and invoicing activities:

  • Chart departments that distribute paper
  • Include payables, receivables, services, and support/help desk centers
  • Comprehend the print process; visualize document movement
  • Ask questions to understand process challenges
  • Look for business machines and printers that do not seem to get much use
  • Review the inventory in the “supplies” cabinet (make sure supplies are accounted for and not being removed from sellable stock without supporting paperwork.)
  • Install a data collection software to discover print output over time
  • Define how paper and printing impacts business costs and share findings with the management team

Once a knowledge base and confidence is built, replicate similar discoveries at client and prospect locations.  You will find your customers’ businesses are not much different than yours.  During assessments the goal should be to discover imaging device inventory, establish device placement, and uncover machine efficiency. Over the course of 30-90 days, monthly page output can be determined and unnecessary equipment and non-manageable machines will be discovered.  It is the responsibility of the MPS provider, VAR, or IT specialist to conduct the hard conversation: certain machines cannot/will not be included in an MPS process.

Discovery Example

Suppose you encounter an office as pictured to the right (let’s hope situations like this rarely occur anymore).

The office has personal printers (highlighted in blue) in every cubicle, two large supply cabinets (also in blue) and a production MFP (the large green highlighted machine).

Without too much trouble, one could discover:

  • Machine connectivity (networked devices or locally attached printers via USB cable ),
  • Machine mix (model, brand and age)
  • Equipment service and supply contract age
  • Supplies on hand
  • And begin to understand printing challenges

After installing the data collection software and letting it run for 30 days, it would be a relatively simple task to determine who is doing all the printing and where the unnecessary equipment is located.  While the assessment takes place, the supply cabinets could be inventoried and if a buyback of toner is in order, make arrangements to take care of the unnecessary stock.

From there, efficient print centers could be established and placement of proper equipment (MFPs highlighted in green in the above diagram) could be suggested.  In the end far fewer supplies will be needed, and those that do are easily consolidated to a few SKUs as the new MFPs all use the same cartridges and parts.

Unnecessary Equipment and Non-manageable Machine Displacement

What are “unnecessary equipment” and “non-manageable machines” you might ask?

“Unnecessary equipment” – Defined as machines that are redundant or machines within close proximity of other imaging equipment.  They could also include “one-off” equipment or small numbers of machines that seldom see use.  Unnecessary equipment are targets for consolidated replacement by more efficient devices.

“Non-manageable machines” – Printers that are cost prohibitive to repair or replenish with supplies could be defined as non-manageable.  Sometimes these will include personal printers and often they will include locally connected printers that are attached to workstations via USB cable.  “Locals” (as they are often called) typically provide very little metering detail.

The goal of every managed print engagement should be to lower the cost of operation where print is involved.  In the extreme example above, it is easy to see that there is considerable opportunity for savings.  By simply eliminating the mix of devices, cost saving in supplies alone may be realized.

But machine efficiency will also be discovered.  Most locally connected printers simply do not provide service and supply detail needed to support an auto-fulfillment or servicing program.  If the prospect or client truly wants to save money while keeping machines operational, they will need to dispose of some devices.

However some equipment may still be under contract.  When possible, the new servicing dealer may have to absorb some of the cost or may arrangements to “buy-back” or take a trade-in when new machines are placed.  But keep in mind when efficient machines are placed, supply and service costs will be cut.

For machines that are not under contract (as personal printers often are), the prospect or client will have their own disposition ideas.  Be sure to plant disposal ideas early in the process.  Tell decision makers some equipment is simply not “print management ready” or capable.

To further assist with administration use the MPS software’s management component.  Tools and utilities such as Meter Viewers have the ability to classify devices.  Device classification permits the MPS provider to designate which devices in the fleet will be managed and which will not be part of the MPS process.

NOTE – Some software providers include non-managed devices and count them as part of the overall billable pool of machines being monitored.  Other software providers provide limited non-managed device monitoring at no cost.  Be sure to check with your software provider to know how your billing process will be affected by large numbers of unneeded machines in the fleet.

… In Summary

Simple management of imaging equipment demonstrates the MPS dealer’s commitment to the customer.

In the “ideal world” business machine providers place machines, customers use and order supplies and request service as needed.  That is the way it has worked for decades but not necessarily how it works today.  Machines need service and support so VARs write contracts to protect both themselves and their customer.

To logically help prospects and customers, MPS professionals must first assess the fleet, discovering the print process watching for machines and printers that do not seem to get much use.  Dealers need to ask questions to understand process challenges and uncover cost savings opportunities.

As assessments conclude, the MPS provider will need to work closely with the customer and help them eliminate the unneeded machines.  When print patterns can be discovered, placement of new and more efficient equipment can be recommended.

Today, businesses have printing and its related expense costs on the chopping block.  They are (or should be) seeking every possible way to eliminate unnecessary equipment as this is a first and logical place to begin.  Removing machines stops unnecessary printing and reduces supply replacement and service costs.