Managed Print Services
May 10th, 2013
By Conrad Mills, services line marketing manager, Large Enterprise Operations, Xerox Europe
A few days ago I was pondering the top 10 business priorities for CIOs, as revealed by Gartner’s recent CIO Agenda survey. Specifically, I was thinking about what this annual survey confirms to me about cost control.
For years, the Gartner survey has consistently revealed cost as a top-three CIO priority, but never at number one. It seems obvious to me that this is because reducing costs simply isn’t an end in itself. Its importance lies in enabling other things: creating efficiencies and freeing resources for transformation and growth.
The use of technology and information in business is changing so fast, the pressure’s really on for IT departments to respond effectively. To do so, though, they may need to first root out unnecessary cost wherever it lurks.
Often it lurks in unconsidered places. Cost reduction has always been a major driver for managed print services (MPS), but the focus tends to be on the obvious costs: hardware, maintenance and supplies. However, as this paper from IDC points out, these account for only a fraction of the total cost of printing.
There are five areas of cost not always perceived as print-related, that really are. They’re larger than the obvious costs and offer significant scope for savings through MPS:
- Organisational productivity
- Procurement and administration
- Environmental sustainability
- IT service desk
- Storage and office space
The IDC research shows that when you look beyond the obvious, the total cost of printing is typically one to three percent of revenue, with potential for up to 30 percent cost reduction. This is in line with our experience, too, working with organisations of all types and sizes to eliminate sources of unnecessary print-related cost. Here’s just one example, where we delivered savings of 30 percent that equate to over $7 million annually.
I heartily recommend that you download and read the IDC paper, which discusses all the areas for cost reduction, includes more case study results, and highlights some basic criteria to consider in assessing potential MPS partners.
May 1st, 2013
By Conrad Mills, marketing manager, Xerox Europe
Think about the best customer service you’ve ever had. What made it stand out? Chances are one of the reasons was that when you called, the team at the other end knew exactly what to do.
That’s exactly how I felt when my network recently reached capacity. In fact, my service provider knew about the problem before I did, and contacted me to advise on the programmes that were hogging the most bandwidth, and easy ways for me to fix the problem.
This is a nice example of proactive customer service at its best. But what if your problem is global? What if you’re a CIO looking after an enterprise where technical issues arise at any time of day or night, across multiple offices? In this light, establishing global customer support looks a good deal more complex.
This was an issue Xerox looked at when we set up our managed print services (MPS) model over 10 years ago. The key aim for this approach was global consistency, something that can’t be achieved by setting up individual support offices here there and everywhere.
So we decided to set up the Xerox Global Delivery Centre, a network global delivery centres for all of our MPS customers and partners along with their service providers.
With Xerox software proactively monitoring an entire print fleet, including volumes, utilisation and associated costs, we are able to fix problems before the customer is even aware of them, and take a significant burden off the IT helpdesk.
This global delivery capability is part of our belief that customer service can be more than the traditional call centre, and become an active part of a business that contributes to the bottom line. It’s why we are listed as a leader for MPS in IDC’s EMEA Managed Print Services 2012 Hardcopy Vendor Analysis and are used by multi-national firms around the world.
How is customer service making a difference to your business? If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, please add them below.
April 8th, 2013
By Sherman Parker, vice president and general manager, Public Sector, Xerox
Spring is a good time for taking a fresh look at things – cleaning up the yard, the house, your desk – to make life and work a little more simple. State and local governments too are looking at every part of their infrastructure in an effort to make work more efficient and serve the public in faster, more efficient ways. Believe it or not, the print infrastructure is still one place most haven’t looked – and it remains a huge opportunity for cost savings.
Managed Print Services (MPS) is a way for government entities to keep it simple this spring and maximize cost savings without a major investment. For example, the city of Aurora expects to save up to 35 percent of print costs by centralizing the management of output devices, like printers, copiers and fax machines and eliminating unused or outdated devices.
The right MPS partner can help make “spring cleaning” in the form of MPS seem less daunting. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a provider:
- Consider contracting options like The Cooperative Purchasing Network (TCPN), a national group purchasing organization that recently awarded Xerox the MPS contract for U.S. state and local government agencies to help control operating expenses and increase productivity.
- Review industry research reports and customer success stories of vendors. A crowded MPS market means service and delivery can vary significantly across vendors.
- Clarify upfront that your MPS vendor will maximize existing technology investments, including multi-vendor devices and mobile technologies. Using a vendor partner who will sell you what you actually need, even if it means supporting competitive products, will ensure you achieve the best results.
- Confirm that change management support will be provided in the long term to help employees successfully adapt to the new technology and streamlined work processes.
- Challenge your MPS vendor to continuously suggest innovative ideas to help you grow and improve your business.
Beyond the fact that MPS is a valid spring cleaning approach for governments (and a new way to save money, paper, supplies and energy) – it’s important to know that it’s not just about changing technology or devices. The data and analysis governments can get from a good MPS partner can go a long way in simplifying the way information flows through the organization, ultimately improving what matters most: public service and satisfaction.
April 4th, 2013
By Mark Duffelen, director and general manager, Channels Group, Xerox UK and Ireland
Now, more than ever, the welfare of the European economy is intrinsically linked to the strength of small and medium size businesses. In the enlarged European Union of 27 countries, some 23 million SMBs provide around 75 million jobs – that’s about two out of every three private sector jobs – and contribute more than half (58 percent) the total value added created by private businesses in the European Union .
Xerox’s European Channels Group, and its network of channel partners (including multi-brand resellers and concessionaires), is constantly on the lookout for opportunities to support these vital enterprises and reduce their costs. One such opportunity that an increasing number of SMBs are taking is the implementation of a managed print service (MPS).
The key challenge appears to be sourcing the most efficient hardware and running the best processes, all for the lowest available costs. With businesses typically adding more, not less, equipment to meet growing demand, can this aim actually be achieved? Many SMBs might think not, but then according to a recent Quocirca survey, 50 percent of them have not even heard of MPS.
Until recently, MPS was seen predominantly as a large enterprise offering. But with 60 percent of SMBs and mid-market organisations currently purchasing printer hardware and consumables on a transactional basis, the opportunity is very clear for smaller organisations to reap the benefits too.
By deploying a strategy of controlling where and how documents are printed, MPS can save up to 30 percent of operating costs.
So if cost reduction is one of your headaches, perhaps it’s time MPS entered your business vocabulary.
March 29th, 2013
By Robert Palmer, Palmer Consulting
Any successful managed print services (MPS) program begins with a good assessment. It serves as the foundation for the service by uncovering such issues as device redundancies, utilization problems, and process inefficiencies. At the same time, the assessment helps to establish a baseline to measure against over the course of the managed print engagement.
What makes a good assessment? That question has come up quite a bit during recent Xerox Focus Forward customer events. Of course, it starts with a good assessment tool. One that can easily and graphically show customers not only how assets are deployed but also provide summary report data on issues such as device economics, distribution, page volumes, and usage patterns.
One thing is certain: a good assessment involves much more than simply collecting and analyzing device data. Experienced customers consistently agree that you need to understand how equipment is used—whether individually or within the team, workgroup, or department. That typically means employee interviews and long-term monitoring of the document environment. A close, working relationship between the provider and the customer is crucial to that process.
Once in place, a good assessment can unveil important information about your document environment, which could be used to drive output costs lower and, more importantly, improve productivity. Consider one such example provided recently during the Xerox Focus Forward event held in Atlanta. Christopher Swezey, director of auxiliary services for Berkley College of Music, explained that their initial assessment conducted in partnership with Xerox uncovered that only four (yes, four) students were responsible for 90 percent of their entire print volume.
It seems highly unlikely, but it turns out that those four individuals had basically established their own on-campus print centers—providing print services for other students who simply found the process too intimidating or too time consuming to tackle on their own.
On the one hand, you have to applaud the entrepreneurial spirit of those four individuals. On the other, it speaks volumes as to how inefficient processes and hidden print costs can go uncovered in any organization. What unknown gems might be lurking within your own document/print environment? It could be time to find a good partner and conduct your first MPS assessment.
Robert Palmer is an independent market analyst and industry consultant. With more than 20 years of experience in the printing industry, he has covered technology and business for prominent market research firms such as Lyra Research and InfoTrends. He was managing editor of the Hard Copy Observer for six years and more recently served as director of office document services for Photizo Group. Mr. Palmer recently formed Palmer Consulting, an independent consultancy focused on transformation, mobility, MPS, and the entire imaging market.
March 8th, 2013
By Robert Palmer, Palmer Consulting
Teams and teamwork: how you have your team configured makes a big difference in today’s business world. So says Richard Karlgaard, columnist and publisher for Forbes and the keynote speaker at Xerox’s recent Focus Forward event held in Chicago. Karlgaard covered a lot of ground in the keynote address, but his discussion around the “soft virtue” of teamwork really resonated with me and tied perfectly with what turned out to be the theme of the day.
One of the real advantages to attending the Focus Forward events is the opportunity to hear directly from customers—those who are deep in the midst of transformation and dealing with the challenges involved in that process. In Chicago, Xerox asked two such customers to tell their stories: Bill Rouse from US Foods and James McDonald Jr. from ING. Both described how the transition to managed print services (MPS) has not only reduced costs but more importantly, helped drive operational efficiencies throughout their organizations.
During the course of the day, the conversation consistently reverted back to the issue of change management. While most recognize the benefits associated with MPS, many still search for the best way to communicate those benefits to their employees. The fear of change remains a difficult obstacle to overcome—especially for employees that feel threated by that change. One question that seems to surface at every event: how do we deal with employees who simply do not want to give up their desktop printers?
Interestingly, both Rouse and McDonald shared similar experiences and meaningful insight. The secret lies in making sure that employees are invested in the process. First, educate employees up front on the entire value proposition and explain how they stand to benefit from MPS: through reduced costs to improved productivity and better environmental policies. More importantly, involve individual employees in the ongoing process of transformation. Let them carry the message for you. Teamwork, after all, will make the difference.
Robert Palmer is an independent market analyst and industry consultant. With more than 20 years of experience in the printing industry, he has covered technology and business for prominent market research firms such as Lyra Research and InfoTrends. He was managing editor of the Hard Copy Observer for six years and more recently served as director of office document services for Photizo Group. Mr. Palmer recently formed Palmer Consulting, an independent consultancy covering the imaging market.
February 21st, 2013
By Jim Reed, director, Procurement, University of Nottingham
When I joined the procurement profession in 1999, people thought I must have been a failed salesperson, and had nothing more to give. Of course, this image of procurement could not be further from the truth, but then I would say that. What good procurement can actually do is the more interesting matter. It takes rigorous practices, an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong work ethic, but done properly, procurement can achieve incredible things for any business.
For any procurement task, it’s essential to remember: ‘get onto a project on day zero.’ When procurement enters the conversation from the start, visions become clear and more importantly, achievable and rather than slow things down procurement can make things happen.
Take for example our managed print service contract with Xerox. People said we were slow to go to market with our MPS tender. I prefer to say we were considered, and that it was more than worth it. I now have other universities ringing me, asking to see our print infrastructure and researching how they could implement something similar for themselves.
By carefully working out the state of our environment in advance, we accelerated the final decision making process, and made the market take us seriously too. By being slower at the front end, we were quicker at the back. Xerox created a bespoke managed print services model based on our requirements, and generated substantial costs savings every year, a 40% reduction in paper usage, and a 80% reduction in the amount of physical hardware we use with a consequent reduction in the power we use.
The results of this best practice are therefore clear. It’s a long way from the easy life, but for the contribution it makes, procurement managers wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jim is responsible for strategic direction and development of procurement strategy and policy at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Over a career spanning 30 years, he has built up a wealth of very relevant experience in senior procurement and quality assurance roles with Rolls Royce, Royal Mail and GEC.