Pity the lowly printer! No one thinks about it until it stops printing, and then everyone goes ballistic. It seems pretty simple to the average user — he clicks print and the paper comes out. Well, printing is actually an integral part of an IT organization’s infrastructure, and is becoming more complex each year.
Printing services have undergone some major changes in the past few years. There are more ways than ever for organizations to maintain a healthy printing ecosystem and optimize their printing services to go mobile, while still saving money. So today, I’ll be going over SHI’s approach to maximizing the benefits of printing services, and how customers can take their printing on-the-go.
Up until three years ago, SHI sold printing services through a transactional sale: Customer cuts a PO, we process the order for the device, include some extra toner cartridges, maybe a grade-six warranty uplift, and then it on its way. Now, with managed print solutions, we’re able to work with our customers to help them manage their printer fleets in today’s ever-changing and mobile environments.
When we first meet with a customer that needs printing services, our first step is to perform an in-depth assessment of their environment. We provide a virtual assessment or head on-site and actually walk the floors. Then, we’ll take the floor plans with us and study those to make sure we know where all the printers are located, and what models they are using. After taking a look at their current suite, we come up with what we believe is an accurate projection of the total cost it will take to implement managed printing services at their current level in their current environment.
Our next our job is to help them streamline by consolidating printers. One of the goals of this process is to eliminate outdated devices and recommend newer models that are more energy efficient. Our strong partnerships with manufacturers like Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark, Xerox, and more enables us to help our customers make the best decision while keeping costs down.
Another factor of our managed print services offering is the contract. The contract, as opposed to a transactional sale, guarantees the customer continued service for their basic printing needs. The typical contract lasts for three years.
The first part of the contract gives a discount on the ink, toner, and other supplies. The second part of the contract is the break-and-fix support. So if a customer’s printer goes down, he simply calls for immediate support. The final component pertains to how the contract is billed. We actually bill them a set cost-per-page (CPP). So instead of having individual invoicing for each outage or service issue, it’s already been covered in the contract.
This allows the customer to streamline his environment from an equipment standpoint, as well as streamline his internal processes, cutting down on the invoicing and the reconciling of invoices, purchasing and accounting, etc. Now, all those departments have to deal with is one invoice per month.
From what I’ve seen, the typical customer saves at least 30 percent with our managed print services contract. Overall, when we provide these contracts, we get to become less of a solution provider, and more of a trusted adviser.
This model has really been embraced by customers because printing isn’t normally tightly controlled within an organization, and it isn’t truly valued until customers see the proficiency and savings that come from this contract. In fact, most people don’t know how many printers they have within their organization.
And in the IT departments, a blinking printer is not a high priority. IT departments are dealing with servers, data centers, high-end cloud solutions, etc. So when a company implements its BYOD policy, the hardware devices that come to mind might be smartphones and tablets, not copiers and printers. But as organizations go mobile, so should their ability to print. That’s how the concept of ePrinting, my next topic, was born.
More and more companies made smartphones and other mobile devices a standard. But if a company adds 15,000 iPads to its environment, it might be left with 15,000 employees who can’t print. This is a big problem, especially for organizations that have people on the road a lot.
On the road, all that can connect people to a printer is their device’s wireless capability. That’s where ePrinting comes in. By using the device’s network capability, it’s basically sending the printer an email alias that allows the user to send documents to that email which will print it from that printer. At SHI, once we get a customer on contract, we work continuously to optimize his environment so it’s primed for ePrinting and other mobile capabilities.
My outlook for the progression of this trend: We are still in the early stages, and far from the paperless office. But as we see more organizations deploying mobile devices, we will see more of a need for mobile printing. Both ePrinting and managed print services started off, in my opinion, slowly and then picked up the pace. But if we’ve moved away from the standard desktop, it can’t be long until we move away from standard printing.