Many organisations are reducing the complexity, cost and risk of operating an unmanaged print environment by adopting a managed print service (MPS). However, while cost reduction has long been the primary objective for MPS, sustainability is also working its way up the agenda.
At Kyocera's recent European analyst briefing, sustainability was a key theme for its Managed Document Services (MDS) offering. Certainly, the environmental impact of unmanaged printing should not be ignored. Poor print management results in wasteful printing and the use of out-dated or redundant devices can also lead to high energy consumption. Implementing responsible printing practices can therefore go a long way to improving an organisation's environmental credentials as well as significantly reducing costs.
As paper remains an important part of many a business's workflows, the focus must be on the "less paper office" rather than the utopian ideal of the paperless office. The nature of printing may be changing—rather than outsourcing high-quality printing, it is conducted in-house and rather than printing and distributing reports, information is distributed electronically and printed only when the recipient feels it is necessary. Meanwhile, the increase in mobile working is creating demand for printing on the move. MPS seeks to address these new requirements for printing in the 21st Century, while ensuring the print environment operates cost effectively and securely with a minimal environmental impact.
Of course there are many simple steps to reducing the environmental impact of printing. These include using recycled paper, enforcing duplex printing and implementing company-wide print policies that encourage employees to print responsibly. But to make real savings—both financial and environmental—businesses need to have a complete visibility on printing volumes and overall costs. This requires a true picture of how many devices there are in an organisation and what is being printed where and by whom.
MPS addresses these needs in three main stages—the assessment, optimisation and ongoing management of the print environment. Most of the MPS measures to reduce printing costs also have an environmental benefit. Device consolidation brings order to the printer chaos that characterises a typical unmanaged print environment. Replacing single function outdated inefficient devices with modern energy efficient multi-function ones (MFPs) reduces energy usage and also enables enforced policies such as duplex printing to be enforced.
But probably one of the most important factors in eliminating paper waste is through the use of "follow-me printing", which eliminates the common occurrence of "print and forget". When a printer job is sent to a network-enabled MFP, the document is only released when an employee authenticates at the device using either a password or swipe card. Documents within individual print queues not printed after a certain amount of time are automatically deleted.
The added bonus of "follow-me printing" is that documents can be released at any location within a corporate network, promoting user mobility. This not only reduces paper waste by eliminating uncollected output, it promotes document security and mobile working. Quocirca believes these will be the driving factors for the adoption of MPS over the coming year.
Kyocera shared details of its MPS engagement with the Royal Sun Alliance (RSA) in the UK. Over five years, Project SPEC (Simplifying Print through Enhancement and Consolidation) aims to reduce RSA's fleet of more than 3,000 printers, managed by a number of vendors, to just 282 high-performance devices, operated through a centralised system. After one year, RSA has reduced print volume by 13 per cent, paper consumption by 21 per cent and energy consumption by 55 per cent. These milestones are showcased in RSA's Corporate Social Responsibility report highlighting the quantifiable cost and environmental benefits of operating a managed print environment.
Green IT should no longer be a nice-to-have afterthought behind cost reduction. More businesses now consider sustainability as a key priority due to combined customer demands, new regulations on carbon trading and constrained financial circumstances. More suppliers are expected to meet environmental criteria—according to Kyocera, sustainability is a key part of almost 80 per cent of MPS tenders with a typical weighting of 35 per cent, from about 10 per cent a few years ago. As sustainability rises up the CIO agenda, they will expect the capability to quantify the environmental impact of their print environment to meet reporting requirements.
Vendors such as HP and Xerox already address such needs through the provision of carbon calculators to assess energy consumption and associated carbon output. Quocirca believes that more MPS vendors will need to provide such analysis as part of their MPS arsenal to demonstrate how MPS can boost cost savings and environmental credentials. With a broader product range planned for the coming year, and plans to unify its offerings across Europe, Kyocera's MDS initiatives show it is catching up with the main players in the market.