Last June I gave a talk at the Photizo Transform Show that I called Common Sense: Not So Common—Insights from Pharos. I’d like to focus on the first insight: Devices don’t print, people do. Obvious, right? Well, maybe not so much. The print industry seems to be enamored with the notion of Managed Print Services (MPS), which deals only with devices, break-fix support, supplies and financing. Everyone understands that companies want to reduce costs and paper, but does the MPS industry always deliver on that desired outcome?

At Pharos, we believe the industry as a whole is falling far short, by as much as 50% of the opportunity to lower costs and paper consumption across an enterprise. To achieve this, the focus must shift from the devices and the production side to the demand side—to the people who print and the processes that require paper as part of an output. If you’re not managing people, you’re not managing print.

“Most people do not want to be the long bar on a cost chart that has exposure to senior leadership.”

People print for one of two reasons. The first is for convenience or out of habit. As much as 40% of office printing falls into this category. The other 60% comes from processes that are based on paper, and the vast majority of this volume never leaves the office in which it’s printed. This leads to a common sense question: how essential are these documents? Pharos has consistently demonstrated the ability to reduce volume in both of these categories by half.

Our CEO, Kevin Pickhardt, likes to remind us that we are not just in the business of print; we are in the business of change. We drive change on the convenience side of print in many ways. First, we communicate in a manner that touches the hearts and minds of the end user. We also get senior leaders to engage their organizations and articulate the priority to print more mindfully. Leading change is one of their most important roles. This change entails education, user behavior modification, and process re-engineering. All of these factors are essential to organizations that strive to be more responsible, cost-effective, and efficient.

We deploy software that provides comparative insights down to the end user and first-level supervisor. It quickly identifies the outliers in the environment, which gets the conversation going quickly. Whether it’s unnecessary color printing or excessive use of locally attached personal printers, most people do not want to be the long bar on a cost chart that has exposure to senior leadership.

We also introduce technology that helps encourage desired outcomes. We can reveal opportunities to charge back to departments or groups to help users understand that printing is not free. We can implement printing policies that automatically educate users whenever they print, reinforcing desired printing behavior and discouraging or even preventing print that violates a rule or exceeds a particular cost threshold.

All of this is on top of our industry-leading secure pull print solution. Requiring user authentication at the device helps folks to think before they print. It also ensures document confidentiality and eliminates waste and the need for banner pages. It eliminates the need for expensive personal desktop printers, and it provides a comprehensive view of who is printing (or copying) and when, where, and why.

“These strategies inevitably lead to a more secure and cost-efficient print environment and a user base that is more aware of the costs associated with each decision to print.”

Our strategic print management solutions usually start with this component of print—the convenience print—because it has historically delivered quick results for our customers. By communicating with the 20% of users that drive 80% of the print volume, we help them become more mindful of their printing habits. They come to understand that there are consequences, and costs, associated with every decision to print. Experience tells us that people do the right thing when they truly understand these consequences. As they internalize mindful printing, these same people are often among the first to point out the archaic paper-based processes that can be re-engineered to digital workflows. This is the second component of the demand side that provides yet another level of cost savings and business efficiency.

Converting paper-based processes to digital workflows typically requires some extra time—it’s not always easy to determine all the reasons behind paper-based workflows and the stakeholders involved. However, the additional payoff is well worth the effort.

We rely on fact-based reporting to complete the 80/20 work, coupled with face-to-face visits with power users to help uncover these processes. Together, we determine what is easy or more difficult, what brings the most value, and the impact on end users and corporate risk.

At one of our customer sites, high-cost reports were being printed and delivered to employee mail slots. Our onsite team observed that, month after month, these reports were never collected. So we employed a simple test. We asked their personnel to stop printing these reports and instead wait to see who comes looking for them. After the first month, not one person asked about the missing report. After a few months, only three people inquired. We worked with these three people to build a custom POD solution, and all stakeholders were pleased with the result. A whopping 450,000 pages per month were saved by changing this report process.

In another case, our onsite team witnessed claims professionals printing PDF forms to read data on the form and re-enter the data into a separate form. By adding a second screen to claims department workstations, they saved more than 700,000 pages per year. Productivity and morale were also significantly improved.

When implemented, all of these strategies inevitably lead to a more secure and cost-efficient print environment and a user base that is more aware of the costs associated with each decision to print. Organizations can see a return on investment as soon as 3 to 6 months, depending on which solutions are deployed. In the print industry, the word “optimized” is often thrown around, but this is what it really means: lower demand for print, maximum utilization per device, fewer devices, and fewer pages printed. This translates to significantly lower costs, less waste, better document security, and a more efficient, productive, satisfied, and sustainable work environment—change that benefits everyone.

Start exploring with us, and learn how easy it can be to build a sustainable and cost-efficient print strategy that pays dividends to your organization year over year.