Optimizing Print Services Saves Big Money

It’s not an uncommon story: 
A school district has printers, copiers and multi-functional printers (MFPs) of varying ages and capabilities and contracts spread throughout the district. There’s no real control over who uses them or how much they’re used, and no one’s keeping track of usage. In the day-to-day business of educating students, it’s easy enough to not gain control of this element; after all teachers need constant, and sometimes urgent, access to these critical machines.

On the other hand, optimizing your print services can allow you to lower both printing and equipment costs, while improving print quality, functionality and security. Take a look at how these two districts are doing it.

Park Hill School District
Park Hill School District in Kansas City, Mo., recently partnered with Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc., to replace its laser printers with color MFPs, providing teachers with state-of-the-art printing and finishing options. The MFPs are outfitted with equipment that helps track and report usage from all connected devices, as well as monitors print quotas throughout the district. Each principal receives a weekly report of the total “print spend” by teacher and/or department.

“The Konica Minolta integrated solution has allowed us to establish more responsible printing practices, streamline our print fleet and lower printing costs compared to our previous fleet of MFPs and printers — 
without sacrificing quality or functionality,” says Brad Sandt, Park Hill’s director of Technology. “We are now able to accurately budget for and control each school’s printing expenditures. This allows principals to better allocate school resources.”

Park Hill, a public school district of a little more than 10,000 students, also used Konica Minolta to support their student printing program by consolidating several different laser printers and consumables to a single brand of toner cartridges. The district was able to eliminate more than 35 devices and replace the remaining printers with 33 black-and-white printers and two MFPs. In addition, the district has gained efficiencies in that it now has one district-wide contract to help manage, service and order supplies for its entire print fleet.

Eliminating wasteful printing and reducing printing expenditures with an integrated printing solution was core to Park Hill’s enterprise print design. Konica Minolta’s Optimized Print Services (OPS), combines consulting, hardware, software and workflow management to maximize efficiencies and lower expenses in four areas. The first is fleet assessment: The firm analyzed Park Hill’s print fleet to right size the document output fleet to actual document management needs. The second is process: The firm analyzed all relevant document flows within the district to increase productivity, maximize savings and design a customized solution to meet daily needs. The third is finance: The firm offered district administrators different purchasing and leasing options, integrating existing contracts into a single plan. The fourth is security: The firm worked with administrators to design and implement an IT and information security solution.

“We focus on Optimized Print Services, which helps drive cost savings,” says Sam Errigo, senior vice president of Business Intelligence Services in the Ramsey, N.J., office of Konica Minolta. “The OPS program has several components: an assessment of the current print environment, recommendations on how to right size the printer fleet, automated toner replenishment, reporting and establishing a multivendor break-fix program.”

Los Angeles Unified School District
“Like most school districts, we have gone through financial challenges and have had to get smarter about how we purchase products and services,” says Mark Hovatter, director of Procurement for Los Angeles Unified School District in California. “A couple of years ago, we learned we were spending $25 million per year on printing costs, excluding paper. In fact, the district had hundreds of contracts for printers, toner and maintenance. We thought we could do better if we combined these contracts.”

The challenge, Hovatter notes, was not in writing a contract, but in convincing the district’s internal customers that they would benefit. “Our customers were comfortable with their local service providers and had a natural tendency to believe that we would provide an inferior product and cut their budget. So we had to make sure they understood the program.”

Because the district wanted a managed print partner, they used an RFP process as opposed to low bid. Three short-listed companies’ machines were placed in one school for a couple of months and tested to see which were preferred. Toshiba won the five-year contract, which requires 90 percent buy in. Any of the district’s 800 schools that don’t want to participate must complete paperwork explaining why they should be excluded.

“We’re now meeting with every principal and every office person and matching printers to needs,” says Hovatter. “There are no penalties for minimum or maximum printing — you pay only for the pages you print. And there is no maintenance contract, so the company has incentive to ensure that the machines are producing or they don’t get paid. We estimate we will save $10 million per year.”

As the district moves through the evaluation phase this year, it is focusing first on schools that were considering purchasing new equipment, followed by schools that are not happy with the quality of their print service. Last will be schools that have new equipment, are happy with their print quality or, as Hovatter says, are the foot draggers, who don’t think they will be saving money.

“Because this is managed print services,” Hovatter says, “it includes any equipment we use to make copies. There was a time when companies would give away printers, knowing you had to buy their ink cartridges. So there’s a challenge in educating our customers that, even though the printer was free, it still cost five cents to print one page, whereas the copier down the hallway costs one cent per page. If you’re printing 50 pages, it’s worthwhile to walk down the hallway to pick up your printing.”

Clearly, optimizing your print services can help you gain efficiencies and save money. In this day and age of do more with less, who doesn’t like the idea?