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Take a leaf out of Defra’s book and change your approach to printing costs says Graham Lowes of OKI Systems UK


t’s estimated that only around 2.3 per cent of departmental spending cuts have been completed so far, against a target of 19 per cent by April 2015. Yet, most government departments are wondering where to turn next to make the required savings. Many have already taken the most obvious steps to becoming leaner and more efficient and, as a result, outgoings such as phone and electricity bills are carefully managed and minimised.

Some of these savings have been brought about by changing the way services are supplied. This usually involves auditing assets and services used, stripping out the dead wood – for example where services are duplicated – and negotiating new rates with suppliers. It’s a sensible route to take because it needn’t affect the quality of service from suppliers; in fact this often improves because the result is simply a more efficient arrangement. However, there is still one area where costs often go unchecked. Many government organisations do not have a clear view of what they are spending on printing and, according to research it is probably more than they think. Estimates suggest that some businesses spend between 1 to 6 per cent of their annual revenues on printing and the analyst firm Gartner says that most companies could reduce their printing costs by 10 – 30 per cent. Depending on organisation size, the key to making savings at this level is either through managed print service (MPS) or, for smaller businesses or departments, basic print services (BPS). Best practice approaches begin with a print assessment that utilises the latest techniques to provide a comprehensive analysis of an organisation’s print environment. Such assessments are designed to optimise print device utilisation for a more efficient managed print strategy, providing a total long-term solution. There’s no reason why government departments are any different from businesses here. But as the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) found out, saving their own budget – and ultimately taxpayers’ money too – involved a total rethink about how their printing needs were being met. Throughout the UK, IBM, in its capacity as one of the largest outsourcers in the world, is responsible for providing managed IT services and solutions to Defra. Working closely with its client, IBM identified a need for Defra to reduce operating costs and carbon footprint and highlighted print as an area where it could potentially make significant savings both financially and in terms of CO2


Defra tasked IBM to help it save costs. In response, IBM recommended a move away from ad hoc procurement of print devices as well as purchase of consumables and move instead to a managed print service (MPS) solution. The new approach would allow hardware to be provided covered by a specific service level agreement (SLA), consumables to be provided automatically free of charge as part of the service on a just in time basis. It issued a tender for a solution provider to deliver the service and after a period of consultation selected OKI as its partner. OKI fitted the bill as an experienced printing solutions manufacturer and MPS provider with proven expertise in managing large projects. IBM had confidence that OKI would not only be able to provide all of the services that were required, but also manage the printing solutions element of the project accordingly. Defra had a fleet of approximately 1,384 printing devices, of varying makes, models and ages. Many of these were locally attached inkjet devices but it also had a wide range of non- networked photocopiers and many aged networked devices. The department had little visibility of print type, volumes, associated costs, or indeed even if its printing solutions were really meeting its strategic business needs. Equally, Defra was reliant on internal deskside support technicians to service and support the printers.

“... most companies could reduce their printing costs by 10 – 30 per cent”

IBM and OKI initiated the MPS process at Defra by carrying out a comprehensive print audit. This catalogued all of the department’s printing devices, their precise location and the volumes of printed page output, enabling OKI to gauge the total number of pages Defra would be likely to print in a typical year and to tailor its offering accordingly. The audit was an intensive process involving visiting over 170 Defra sites in just three months. Site staff were interviewed and employees completed questionnaires to gain an understanding of users’ print/scan/copy requirements.

During the audit process prior to the solution being implemented, OKI’s printers had to undergo a rigorous testing process to ensure that all of the devices were capable of supporting all applications that Defra use. And that any specialist printing requirements such as colour accuracy, mapping or specific non standard media types were of the highest quality. The solution implemented by OKI represented a balanced deployment of devices from A4 desktop printers to A3 and A4


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