"Managed print services" may help companies rein in an insidious expense

"Managed print services" may help companies rein in an insidious expense Making copies isn't brain surgery, but at Florida's Health First chain of hospitals it had become what chief information officer Richard Rogers describes as a "convoluted mess." Nursing stations were overrun by copiers, fax machines, and printers, taking up precious counter space and impeding day-to-day operations.

If getting to (or away from) the machines was a chore, so too was keeping them running. There was no consistent process for ordering toner — departments purchased from a range of suppliers, sometimes buying poor-quality reconditioned cartridges. Some nursing units stocked up on a year's supply at a time, others bought on a more ad hoc basis, and no one knew what anyone else had on hand.

Rogers sought a cure in so-called managed print services, a form of outsourcing that addresses the rationalization of office equipment and its maintenance. Lexmark International won the bid, and its consultants set about analyzing document output patterns throughout the company. They replaced many single-function machines with strategically placed multifunction devices that print, copy, scan, and fax. They also rolled out a system that automatically reorders supplies when needed with no hospital-staff involvement. As a result, Rogers says that hard costs alone have dropped from 3.1 cents per image to 1.4 cents per image.

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