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.