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Managed document services

At one time, reducing cost was the main motivation when organizations looked for managed document services. In the last several years, that hasn’t changed. But now—along with lowering costs and increasing productivity—organizations are seeking ways to reduce their environmental footprints.


April 25, 2011
by Deanna Rosolen

PURCHASINGB2B MAGAZINE: MARCH/APRIL 2011

At one time, reducing cost was the main motivation when organizations looked for managed document services. In the last several years, that hasn’t changed. But now—along with lowering costs and increasing productivity—organizations are seeking ways to reduce their environmental footprints.

The University of Calgary was in this position in 2005 when it created a committee called Project Imagine, with a mandate to review the school’s document management systems. It found that across the university (more than a dozen faculties) there was a mix of devices, services, print quality, costs and vendors.

Theresa Mueller, the project’s director, says the institution wanted to manage documents from start to finish, get printing under control, introduce sustainable practices and move towards managing documents electronically. The university turned to Xerox Canada for help and ultimately sealed a seven-year deal.

“We wanted an ability to look after the documents electronically so that we could create them, use them, control access, all of the things you look for when you’re managing documents—including the destruction of them,” says Mueller.

When the university began working with Xerox it was using 72 million pieces of paper per year. That figure has since dropped to 52 million, says Mueller, mostly because employees began setting their default to double-sided printing. That simple change makes a significant difference in the amount of paper used, which contributes to lower costs and greater sustainability.

The university also adopted Xerox’s ColorQube, a printing technology using solid, non-toxic ink sticks or blocks that are resin-based and cartridge-free. The ink is heated and transferred to paper in a manner similar to a commercial offset press. Now, says Mueller, the university uses one of these devices for an area in which about 100 people print to it. There have been no quality or reliability issues, she notes.

“We’re looking at putting more of these devices in high-use areas,” she says.

Mark Boelhouwer, vice-president of strategic marketing at Ricoh US, has also noticed managed document services are becoming more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Organizations are asking more often about reducing their environmental footprints and moving towards digitizing documents.

“Clients still ask primarily for cost reduction,” he says. “On top of that they say, ‘we would be grateful if you could help us reduce our carbon footprint.’”

Boelhouwer has also noticed companies asking for carbon footprint offsetting options. In the same way customers can pay an additional fee for their airplane tickets to offset the carbon emissions, organizations can buy credits to offset their carbon emissions from printing.

“You see large organizations, certainly in Europe, that are aware that even with an optimized print environment, they still have an impact on the environment,” he says.

Ricoh will soon offer customers the opportunity to buy carbon credits to offset their CO2 emissions and bring them to zero. “Everything around the environment is a big trend and this is one of the latest ones.”

Boelhouwer notes where companies often go wrong with their document management systems is not understanding how much they spend on them. He says research shows organizations spend on average about 10 percent of their revenue on document-related activities.

“They’re losing money, yet no one understands that,” says Boelhouwer. “Sometimes the purchasing unit is looking after document management systems, sometimes a business unit, sometimes it’s finance. All of these different areas know pieces and parts of the puzzle, but no one owns it or knows how documents are being dealt with. That’s where they’re going wrong.”

When organizations take ownership of their document management systems, it can lead to more efficiency, increased productivity and less waste. Sustainability follows easily from there.

“Organizations need to compete, they need to be different and they need to be relevant,” says Boelhouwer. “The ease of information is vital to that.”