When computers started moving out of rigorously air-conditioned rooms and onto office workers’ desks many people predicted the demise of paper. In the paperless office, they said, email would replace letters and memos while drafts of those documents would be created, circulated and approved online. Decades later the typical office is still using vast amounts of wood pulp not to mention other consumables such as ink and toner. In fact, for some companies printing and related services can be a financial black hole.
Davy Stockbrokers is a case in point. With just under 400 employees, the company has about 70 laser printers dotted around its offices, according to IT director Pat Phelan. “Some are departmental laser printers, some are large, some are duplex and some are colour,” he says. “They are all designed for individual use and are all on the company network.”
In the past, some aspects of managing these printers were contracted out, specifically the break and fix aspect. The rest was handled in-house. “People would ring the helpdesk and say, ‘My printer’s not working’, and that meant that nearly always someone would have to go and take a look at it,” says Phelan. “In a lot of these cases the problem was a toner issue.” However, in some cases, the toner was being replaced unnecessarily which, according to Phelan, was costing the company money.
In addition, repairs to faulty machines seemed to require the purchase of very expensive components such as fuser units. “We had an annoying belief that we didn’t actually need these new units,” says Phelan. “The problem was there was no proactive maintenance and the printers take a lot of abuse. People wouldn’t always report problems, instead they would moan about it for weeks until it was too late.”
All of that changed when about six months ago Davy Stockbrokers outsourced its print management to Datapac. “We had been toying with the idea for a year or two but couldn’t find anyone. Then the company that did our break and fix work said it could do it. However, at about the same time, we had started buying consumables from Datapac and we noticed from their literature that this was a service it provided. So, we talked to both, compared bids and chose Datapac.”
Datapac’s managed print services, which is marketed under the name Printpac, is aimed at delivering cost savings to companies that do a lot of printing. “It is particularly aimed at organisations that have no idea how much their printing is costing them,” says Edel Creely, Datapac’s general manager. “What we do is carry out an audit with an organisation which can take quite some time to do. We look at the printing environment and do a print count. Then we come back four to six weeks later and do another count.” Based on this information, Datapac can offer a fixed price for managing all of the companies printing.
“The key advantage is that we have outsourced full management of our printers,” says Phelan. “An important component of that is the proactive approach Datapac takes. It sends someone in on a regular basis, who sits down with the helpdesk people and talks to them about ongoing issues. They also wander around and look at all of the printers, see which ones are heavily used and need preventive maintenance.”
Another advantage, says Phelan, is that all of the printers are tagged. If someone needs new toner they can simply call the facilities department who can order the toner online for next-day delivery. However, because of the tagging, it is possible to add “intelligence”, so if a printer had a new toner cartridge installed the previous week this will be flagged as a possible problem.
“The final advantage,” says Phelan, “is that we now have a fixed price throughout the year based on the number of printers and our history of usage. Even though our previous maintenance contract was a fixed monthly fee, we had additional expenses for components and toner.” Based on the print audit, Datapac calculates the company’s toner needs for the year and that cost is included in the annual fee.
The Printpac service, however, goes beyond simply maintenance and consumable supply. Because of the nature of Davy’s business, the company has a spike in print output once per quarter. Datapac provides extra capacity in the form of two high-speed printers for one to two weekends per quarter. “We couldn’t justify that sort of printer capacity normally,” he says. In addition, Datapac provides 24-hour support and has replacement printers on standby during the reporting period.
“This helps us to better manage our assets. Our current bill for the year is slightly less than what we spent last year, but we are quite confident that we are getting a much better service and we are expecting the bill to go down again next year,” says Phelan. “I’m pretty certain we are using less consumables and we are buying a lot fewer components than in the past.”
By David Stewart