Reducing Printer Sprawl Yields Big Savings for City Governments

Managed print services rein in costs and simplify administration.

With 20 departments in the executive branch alone, the state government of Colorado has a complex organizational structure and a staggering volume of printers and multifunction devices.

After the Department of Personnel & Administration’s Integrated Document Solutions (IDS) group assumed responsibility for desktop printers, Teddy Abad-Perez, multifunction device program manager for IDS, crafted a migration plan.

Starting with his own department, Abad-Perez quickly found much room for improvement. The agency had a 2:1 user-to-printer ratio. Another state department had a 1:1 ratio and was spending about nine cents per page by printing on local devices.

“On a personal printer in the state of Colorado today, the average cost is 8 cents per page,” Abad-Perez says. “With managed print services, we think we can get it down to as little as four cents per page. If you multiply that by 200,000 pages per month, that’s quite a bit of savings.” He seeks to get all printing ratios to somewhere between 8:1 and 12:1.

The Department of Personnel & Administration is conducting a proof-of-concept trial for managed print services (MPS). Subsequent phases will add more departments. Once the platform has final approval, the group will then perform a phased deployment to other departments. Abad-Perez is now working to standardize print devices. The branch has chosen Xerox for multifunction devices but has yet to determine a printer brand.

"The printer situation was out of control."

For most organizations, the biggest benefit of moving to managed print services is reduced cost. Simply by gaining control and consolidating, organizations can save money on equipment, print contracts, maintenance and even toner. Other benefits include increased productivity, thanks to a streamlined supply-ordering process, better security and greater energy efficiency.

When looking for an MPS solution, it’s important to make sure the vendor offers a range of features, including centralized help-desk support, a full complement of reports, proactive supply management and document solutions, such as secure printing, says Louella Fernandes, a principal analyst at Quocirca.

For the city of Boise, Idaho, the reason for considering managed print services was because the printer situation was out of control.


Percentage of organizations that have suffered one or more accidental printing-related data breaches

SOURCE: “Vendor Landscape: Managed Print Services” (Quocirca, March 2012)

“You could just walk around the buildings and you would see so many printers. It was obvious in almost every department,” says Boise CIO Garry Beaty.

A 2011 study of the city’s printer pool found that the city not only owned about 450 printers (one for every three employees) but also had printer contracts with 16 different manufacturers, and there was no standardization on the brands, models or types of printers.

The study pointed out other problems as well. City employees used expensive color printing when black and white would have sufficed, and machine use, uptime and mean time to failure were substandard. What’s more, the city’s supplier and contract performance was poor.

Boise is close to choosing its managed print services vendor, and Beaty expects the migration to be slow but steady. Moving printing to more efficient devices and reducing the fleet will yield about $250,000 savings per year. Over time, he anticipates even more savings.

“We’re not going to get rid of any equipment right away, but we might repurpose some of it. We also don’t expect to standardize on one type of device right away,” Beaty explains. “But from that point forward, we will start procuring a single type of device for specific needs. Eventually, we’d like to get to a 16:1 or 20:1 ratio for printers.”

Mobility Must Be Part of the MPS Solution

With mobility a ubiquitous reality in every place of business, the need to print from mobile devices is exploding. A recent Quocirca study indicated that nearly 60 percent of organizations would like to be able to print from their mobile devices, and about 25 percent are currently investigating mobile print solutions.

This increased mobility means that organizations investigating managed print services should be sure to look for robust mobile print solutions, which enable users to release print jobs from smartphones, says Quocirca’s Louella Fernandes.

Mobile printing must be tightly integrated into an existing enterprise print-management strategy to ensure that security risks are mitigated and costs contained, Fernandes adds. What’s more, print jobs from mobile devices should be subject to the same rules as those from the desktop so that the print jobs can be monitored and controlled. An MPS solution that includes mobile printing should support multiple mobile platforms and allow users to submit print jobs via multiple methods, including email, a web browser or a smartphone application.


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Mar 05 2013