Despite the focus on digitalization, businesses remain reliant on printing paper, from marketing materials to invoices to reports. And many companies still provide transactional information to customers that require hard-copy printed documentation, such as proxies and financial statements.
A Fortune 1000 organization can spend upwards of $100 million dollars a year on printing, depending on the industry. Yet due to lack of central oversight and ownership of the print management function, much of that money is wasted. Indeed, some enterprises have trouble estimating of total print costs at all.
“Print is dispersed across a number of different business units — marketing, procurement, facilities and IT,” says Lisa Meath, managing consultant with outsourcing consultancy Alsbridge. “In most cases, however, there’s no big-picture perspective on how and where to drive improvements and costs reductions. Plus there’s no direction regarding where to start and how to create the most beneficial business impact.”
Financial services and insurance, for example, have traditionally been very paper-intensive. And many had invested in internal print capabilities that are increasingly inefficient and obsolete. While outsourcing these operations could save them money, the complexity of transitioning the work to a third party has prevented them from doing so in the past.
However, a strategic approach to sourcing enterprise print operations can help address this problem. And CIOs are ideally positioned to champion this particular cost containment effort.
“For the CIO it’s an opportunity to not only reduce costs but to drive strategic change across the enterprise, specifically by building the foundation for the transition to e-communications,” Meath says. “Given their holistic view of the organization’s business systems, CIOs have a unique opportunity to unify disparate business units and drive operational improvement and cost reduction related to print-related activities.”
Improving print operations can also lay the groundwork for increasing digitalization by becoming more discriminating about what is printed and what isn’t. IT leaders can spearhead a three-step process for evaluating and streamlining enterprise printing services.
1. Assess existing print operations
The first step is analyzing and benchmarking the organizations entire print environment to understand in detail where, what, why and how materials are being printed. “Based on that assessment, the organization articulates their long-term objectives for the future state and outlines a strategy to get there,” says Meath. That plan may include process efficiency improvements, optimization, vendor consolidation, or other new sourcing strategies.
2. Outsource where appropriate
Next, IT leaders should integrate print providers into the IT service delivery mix, applying project management discipline to this process. Many companies, particularly in print-intensive industries have invested heavily in technology that is now obsolete. “The complexity of the transition and switching from existing operations to a service provider has been a huge obstacle,” Meath says. “The way to overcome that obstacle is through process discipline that breaks down the key milestones, deliverables and deadlines to keep the project on track. Integrating print providers into the IT service delivery mix is the process of breaking down those isolated islands of print operations.”
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