A Managed Print Solution.
The AlphaSix Qlarify Managed Print Solution is a secure, easy-to-implement, cost-effective method for managing your print environment that requires a relatively small upfront investment with a very short ROI.
Typical Print Cost Savings
- Vendor agnostic secure pull printing
- Robust reporting capabilities
- Reduced maintenance costs
- Just-in-time supplies replenishment
- Reduce/Eliminate desktop and non-networked printers
Qlarify is currently available as on premise solution offering.
What is Managed Print
Print Management, otherwise known as Managed Print Services (MPS), is the practice of trying to control costs and efficiency in an uncontrolled and expensive category of IT. Printing is often referred to as the last bastion of cost savings and yet for years, no one seemed to focus their efforts trying to manage it. As agencies and institutions are forced to cut costs and show the return on investment (ROI), print management is finally becoming a priority, yet most people have no idea how to get started. To further compound the issue, printing costs are usually shared across many departments with IT responsible for the network operations, facilities responsible for the consumables, a higher entity responsible for the power and no one having the overall responsibility to get the situation under control. Unless you're a CEO or head of a Government Agency, your department rarely shoulders the burden for all costs plus there are numerous “soft costs” like training and driver maintenance that are hard to quantify. When agencies try to implement print management, they usually turn to the large print manufacturers who start by undertaking workshops, followed by assessments, leading to TCO studies that show huge costs savings yet require a significant investment up front. Furthermore, the solutions proposed vary widely amongst manufacturers with some suggesting a centralized approach, some suggesting a distributed approach, some based on print devices and others based on copiers or multi-function devices (MFD’s). Lastly, the end result is usually a per-page-charge which is an aggregate charge including all services and products with no breakdown of the individual costs. As a result, many agencies end up confused and frustrated and choose to do nothing.
The High Costs of Printing
To understand our approach, let’s start by looking at the primary costs associated with printing:
- Hardware: This category includes more than just stand-alone printers. To begin with, printers come in many flavors including mono, color, single function, multifunction, laser based, ink based, large format, stand alone, and networked. Add to that digital senders, fax machines, scanners, and copiers and then multiply by the number of manufacturers, such as HP, Canon, Ricoh, Xerox, Lexmark and you start to understand how quickly your hardware can become unmanageable and costly. In addition, these devices are rarely utilized within their recommended usage guidelines which means you’re paying for capacity you don’t use in addition to maintenance plans, power, cooling, and other costly expenses. To compound the situation, many users claim they have to have their own printing device for security reasons. These devices are typically extremely underutilized from an output perspective yet require toner/ink, paper, power, and maintenance equivalent to every other device. They are also rarely networked which further adds to their lack of utilization and means there is no central management of the devices.
- Supplies: This is the big cost driver. Take all the hardware devices identified above and add expensive ink and toner cartridges, paper, fusers, and rollers, and now the costs of the device itself seems inexpensive in comparison. Walk into any typical office environment and you will undoubtedly find shelves or even closets full of printing supplies, many for devices that aren’t in service anymore and represent thousands of dollars worth of inventory.
- Service: Unfortunately, moving parts tend to fail, and printers and other input/output devices have lots of moving parts. Everyone has experienced the frustration with the copier and print devices not working. To combat downtime, many agencies have expensive 4-hour return-to-service plans that further add to the high price of maintaining a functioning print environment.
- Security: Today’s printers have all the features of computers; processors, hard drives, memory, network cards, etc. which means they are as vulnerable to attack as any other device on your network. In addition, printed information left in the output tray of a print device can be as harmful to an agency as any other breach of security and cost you millions if not handled properly.
- Lastly are all the “soft costs” such as driver maintenance, training, help desk support, and power/cooling. While these are real costs, they are the type of items that when included in a TCO analysis tend to make the reader skeptical that they will ever really see a return on their investment and hence add to their reluctance to initiate the process.
While AlphaSix’s print management solution will provide significant cost savings in all areas, the primary savings result in the areas of hardware, supplies/consumables, and service. As a bonus, AlphaSix’s solution provides enhanced security through secure pull printing which ensures documents end up where they belong and not in the wrong people’s hands.
AlphaSix has developed an easy-to-implement, cost-effective method for managing your print environment that requires a relatively small upfront investment with a very short ROI. Furthermore, our solution is scale-able so you start small and add additional features until all aspects of your print environment are fully optimized and managed.
The entire process can be broken into a handful of steps as follows:
Estimate the current environment to develop a rough ROI.
Load the print management client on each computer to begin tracking habits and usage.
Start adding cost savings features such as policy print and toner savings.
Right-size and optimize the printer fleet and service levels.
Initiate just in time supplies replenishment.
Implement secure pull printing.
By following the AlphaSix road map, your agency can literally save millions of dollars per year while being in complete control of your printing environment. Even if you only implemented Steps 1-3, you would have a deep understanding of what was being printed, when, by whom, and save yourself millions in the process. Steps 4-6 further reduce your costs and introduce secure printing and supplies management while also reducing the amount you spend on service annually. Our solution is currently deployed at numerous customers who will attest to the simplicity and effectiveness they have achieved in understanding and managing their print environments.
For most Government agencies, getting started is easy. We recommend starting small, testing the concept, and then expanding within your organization. Starting small equates to a floor, a small department or a branch office. Somewhere that has a large enough footprint of users and devices to establish a solid baseline, but doesn’t require a massive rollout. As mentioned above, the first step is to get an idea of what you’re spending, what you could save, and how long it would take (ROI). Based on an estimate of the number of color and mono prints and copies produced each month, the number of current printing devices (copiers, single function devices, multi-function devices), the number of users, and the number of networks you plan to deploy on, we can get a quick idea of what you spend each month (based on industry standards) and what you could potentially save per month. These are used to calculate the initial ROI, which is typically 3-4 months. Note that this is not an exhaustive assessment, just a guestimate that everyone generally agrees on.
The next step is to actually test the model. By installing an agent on each client device in the proof-of-concept pool, we can quickly see exactly what is being printed, by user, by device, by time period, and by application. The cost of the agent is typically less than $21 per client which is a very small investment that allows you to gain tremendous insight into your printing habits as well as test your model. By turning on and selecting your toner reduction preferences, at this stage of the process, you can start to see up to 30% savings immediately. Next, with actual data in hand, you can revisit the initial ROI model and get a very accurate picture of what you are spending as well as an idea of what you will save when you consolidate devices, implement policy print and initiate pull printing. We recommend running the baseline for 2-3 months so you get a fairly accurate picture of your environment. For most customers, at this stage of the process, they feel they have a complete view of their printing environment and have truly started to manage it.
Next, AlphaSix will assist you as you consolidate and right-size your fleet. Armed with the current utilization rates of your fleet, we will map out your existing fleet and make recommendations as to where devices should reside moving forward. This includes replacing existing devices as well as reusing the existing fleet and also incorporates where to use multifunction devices versus single function. We will also help you initiate Policy Print wherein users receive alerts instructing them on ways to reduce costs such as printing in mono versus color, or duplex versus single sided. Additional savings can be realized from just-in-time supplies ordering wherein you set thresholds at which alerts are automatically sent when ink or toner levels reach a certain level. This allows you to order supplies as they are needed and not stockpile a closet with supplies that might become outdated or obsolete. Charge back is another feature that can be implemented at this point allowing you to bill departments and/or users for exactly what they print.
The last step is to incorporate secure pull printing. Using PIV cards, CAC cards, or usernames and passwords, users authenticate themselves at any device on the network and are then presented with all their print jobs. This requires readers on print devices or it can be integrated right on the screen of many MFPs. Once a user authenticates, they select only the job(s) they want to print. This means if they sent 10 jobs to the printer but only need the last one, they save the costs of printing the other 9 jobs. Parameters can be set where all unprinted jobs are cleared from the print queues at regular intervals. Never again will an uncollected print job lie in the output bin of a device where it can be retrieved by the wrong individuals. It also provides you with an audit trail of who printed what. Lastly, it significantly lowers maintenance costs. Now, instead of having a costly 4-hour return-to-service contract, users just go to the next device to retrieve their print job and the malfunctioning device can be repaired the following day. Secure print also removes the requirement for everyone to have a device in their office for security reasons allowing you to remove all non-networked stand-alone devices in individual’s offices.
Interested in learning more about Qlarify?
Contact our sales team and we'll get started planning your implementation.