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Are You Printing Money?

15 January 2005

The management of desktop printing costs is still largely uncontrolled. Jane Fenwick asks Meyer Kempf how FMs can not only take control, but also make savings and improve productivity

WHAT FM can put hand on heart and honestly say they know the number of print and fax devices that his or her organisation employs, where they are or even whether they are being fully used? The realm of the desktop printer, fax machine and copier remains one of the frontiers that many FMs have yet to fully explore and effectively manage to gain savings and real benefits for their business.

Print and copier devices come in a dizzying array of sizes, styles and manufacturers, supplied by a host of distributors and using an alarming range of consumables. Individually they are considered to be ‘low cost’ items but when you add up all the costs after purchase including leases, maintenance fees, consumables and the cost per print etc, the numbers become much more significant.

Traditionally, manufacturers or distributors provide maintenance of printers, faxes and copiers, but they often provides little or no really useful management information that can help FMs analyse costs and usage, or help them rationalise the fleet to minimise the number of brands and suppliers. Furthermore, because the maintenance contract is usually linked to the manufacturer or distributor, they have an interest in selling in the latest model to replace existing equipment that may still be functional.

The issue of managing print devices is often compounded when organisations merge. Typical is Zurich Financial Services whose acquisition of Eagle Star and Allied Dunbar resulted in it inheriting a network of 800 multi-vendor machines in offices across the country - and with home-based workers. Zurich not only needed to manage this fleet effectively, but also to prolong the life of the individual machines to minimise
investment in new models.

Independent advice
Zurich enlisted the help of Technical Support Group (TSG), an independent service company. This independence gives it the advantage of being able to support machines from any manufacturer and to refurbish existing machines to prolong their life. It can also provide a central call centre service both for FMs at customer premises for notification of breakdowns, and to provide service information to its national
maintenance teams.

Zurich Financial Services needed a single supplier to manage and support its fleet, and to help prolong the life of each device to cut the growing cost of continuous investment in new models. TSG also provides a technical help line for Zurich staff having problems with a particular machine and training of staff in their use, as well as preventative maintenance and servicing within an eight-hour response time.

The real value comes, however, from the management information provided by TSG to Zurich about every machine in its fleet.

TSG carried out a cost of ownership analysis across the Zurich fleet and found that it could save over 30 per cent on the cost of new machine replacements simply by redeploying underused machines, and refurbishing others for further use elsewhere in the organisation. About 70 per cent of the surplus machines were renovated and redeployed in this way. Overall, TSG saved Zurich £28,000 direct costs and reduced its fleet by 24 per cent overall without loss of efficiency.

Zurich is not alone in facing these issues. Working with lawyers Dibb Lipton Allsop to reduce its fleet of over 700 printers, TSG was able to give independent advice on what machines to buy based on an intimate technical understanding of performance and capabilities of each model and make, and on where to deploy them across the organisation. As a result, Dibb Lipton Allsop reduced its printer fleet by one third and improved the productivity of each machine. TSG supplied floor maps to show where devices could be reduced in number and where new ones should be installed.

A roadside restaurant chain with 400 outlets, each equipped with a fax, copier and printer for communication with head office, found that with the high costs of all the individual leases and the consumables, this approach was neither cost effective nor efficient. It was spending £200,000 on maintenance and consumables, and with printing per page costing 7p on inkjets and 5p on faxes, keeping control of costs was proving difficult. On the advice of TSG, the multiple machines at each location were replaced by multi-function devices linked to Broadband that cost 0.7p per page to print. This not only kept
costs under control but also provided better print quality including colour printing, and enabled internal monitoring of usage and maintenance via the internet. The savings to the customer were £100,000 even with the new investment in new equipment.

TSG also works for some manufacturers managing servicing of their machines under warranty. As Managing Director, Meyer Kemph explained, “TSG acts as virtual company for print device management and service. We provide manufacturers and distributors with a ‘low touch, low involvement’ support service for
legacy multi-vendor fleets, but at the same time offer them a high level of control and visibility.”

TSG’s IT systems are capable of distinguishing the supplier, manufacturer and customer for each device under warranty or service agreement, so that when the service engineer calls he knows exactly whom he is
‘representing’.

Typical of TSG’s role is its support for IBM FM’s service contract with Boots that has a total of 2,500 print devices of 96 different types in its shops and offices. For a small annual fee per device, the TSG support service covers all parts and labour, routine servicing, reporting and loan machines, as well as call centre services, refurbishment or disposal of old machines under the WEEE Directive.

“We are their eyes, ears, arms and legs in the field,” explained Kempf. “Using the service information we collect, TSG can help manufacturers and distributors, or FM companies responsible for maintaining their
client’s devices, to drive initiatives back into their client’s businesses.”

Kemph is so confident in the skills of his service engineers to maintain the machines to a high standard and to lengthen their operating life, that he will, for some clients, replace free of charge, any machine they can’t fix.

He believes that the desktop printing environment which has been largely off the FM’s ‘radar’ is now coming into their scope. “With business drivers such as reducing costs while improving client productivity and workflow, the FM is in a position to not only manage the equipment fleet, but also drive cost savings and
improvement.”


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