Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hidden costs in office imaging

Hidden supply costs are HUGE!

New IDC research tries to quantify the actual cost of the printed page. A blog post last week at Docusense's Cost Per Page Solutions blog pointed to the enormous impact of administration and IT costs. But there are big hidden expenses in every aspect of the printer page.

Whenever stats like these come out, the specifics are always hard to pin down in an "across the board" way. I am certain that the hidden costs far outweigh the obvious expenses of buying, supply and servicing equipment; however, I am just as sure that the percentages change when you move the survey from large corporate settings (i.e. where they would have full-scale IT support, doc management, etc.) down to an SMB.

That's our typical printer fleet management customer and we see the supply costs routinely as both very substantial and completely unmanaged. Of course, as mentioned above, the devil's in the details. Are they more than "Admin and IT"? Who knows, but consider these "Supply Costs" categories:

1. Purchasing -- Purchase order expenses; pre-purchase due diligence by buyers; monitoring of consummables' yield; returning defectives; tracking MRA credits; etc.

2. Inventory Management -- Receiving; warehousing; end-user distribution; etc.

3. Recycling -- Those who desire to be responsible environmentally will need to collect, warehouse and dispose of empties, usually involving shipping/handling expenses (or live with a 400-year decomposition period for toners in your town dump).

4. Obsolescence -- This is enormous. All the initial costs were already spent, years ago. The consummables were bought in bulk to get end-column pricing. The printers themselves are long gone. Yet all these toner cartridges are still being stored and counted in inventory and will eventually need to be disposed of. Every penny of associated expense is a complete waste!

We added three managed print services clients recently where the sales rep's found literally thousands of dollars of new O.E.M. cartridges unopened in storage rooms all around the facilities. The only problem? -- The customers no longer have those models anywhere in their organizations!

(Be watching for "toner cartridge bargain" on eBay sometime soon.)

Seriously, though, the "soft costs" hidden in every printed page are simply amazing. There are real savings within reach of any company that will simply begin managing this typically unmanaged area of their business.

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