To avoid total print chaos and take full stock of just how much printing is happening in your organisation – and how much you’re spending and wasting – print assessments make sense, right? Theoretically, that should be the case, anyway. But it doesn’t always work out like that. In fact, most print assessments are a complete waste of everyone’s time. Read the article below, and we’ll tell you why.
So What Exactly are Print Assessments?
Okay, let’s start at the beginning. A print assessment is, as its name suggests, an evaluation of the printing that your company does. It’s an audit – an overlook that should tell you the kind of volume of black and white and colour prints jobs that occur at all your printers and multi-function devices. It should be a comprehensive report that gives you a detailed rundown of exactly what the printing environment and document workflows inside your business look like, and indicate all the various costs and suggest where savings can be made.
What Happens During Most Print Assessments?
Just before someone visits your office to conduct the assessment, you’ll probably receive a sales or procurement call. A call like this should be a red flag – especially if the person you welcome into the building gives off more than a slight whiff of ‘sales’. Print assessments are often used as excuses to start new sales cycles; they’re treated merely as ‘a way in’. If it’s a salesperson carrying out the assessment, the results could differ quite a lot from a trained, qualified, Lean Six Sigma-focused independent print consultant. The assessment becomes less about giving an accurate view of your print situation and more of a sales tool.
Basic print assessments are often only snapshots of small periods of time – usually thirty days. The central piece of kit used for gathering data is what’s known as a Print Audit Rapid Assessment Key (RAK). It’s a USB stick which is plugged into your network (with all the cyber and print security risks that something like that poses). It then gathers data and produces a report on print activity over the past month. This snapshot in time isn’t necessarily going to be representative of your general usage, especially if your business experiences seasonal print volume differences.
Print assessments carried out via RAK keys can present significant security issues too. If sensitive data leaks out via one, there is absolutely no audit trail whatsoever. You need to ensure that any data collected from you is kept in an environment is fully ISO27001 compliant at all times. And that means no Rapid Assessment Keys.
Questions You Should be Asking When Your Printing is Being Assessed
- Who exactly is carrying out the audit?
- How well trained are they?
- To what level of depth is the assessment being carried out?
- Are users being surveyed? Are they surveys or interviews being carried out?
- Is a lot of the assessment built around assumptions and ‘estimates’?
- What exactly are the assumptions are being made about your print volume?
- Who benefits from these lazy assumptions? You? Or the provider…?
How a Print Assessment with Nustream Works
We provide a precise, accurate and exhaustive insight into your document workflows and print set-up. We offer advice and present cost-saving print policies and strategies, plus we give you detailed future roadmaps. The data from our accurate and comprehensive print assessments can be used to model costs based on specific ‘what if’ scenarios. Say, for instance, what if we reduced the total colour volume? Or what if we introduced a cloud-based document management system?
When we carry out a print assessment, we do so by effectively ‘listening’ to three voices:
The Voice of the Environment
We first get an understanding of the office(s), the layout and the network. We plot your set-up and get to know the environment. What’s where, why it’s there and what it does. We do that using Asset DB™ software which helps which helps create visual floor plan maps that show how your printers, copiers and MFDs are used throughout your workplace.
We then install and run Xerox’s Device Agent (XDA) software quietly in the background to collect and assess your information. It gathers data quickly and securely and can even perform your meter reads for you.
The Voice of the Customer
We don’t just rely on numbers, though. Speaking to actual users is a vital resource for understanding how work flows through a business. We set up simple-to-use online surveys and invite people to quick interviews, quizzing them on their print habits (even anecdotal evidence from people here can be extremely useful). We can also host small workshops to help us understand the full picture and teach your users a few tips and tricks.
When we carry out a print assessment, it’s detailed, exacting and presents clear and logical plans for cost reduction and a decrease in overall print volume. Because print assessments should be about you improving the way workflows through your organisation – they shouldn’t be about sales types squeezing you for an order.
The Voice of the Process
It’s crucial that we fully understand what your processes are and if the printers and MFDs that you use are suitable and fit for purpose. We map out your workflows and processes and drill down into the numbers in some detail and with real accuracy. We can then precisely attribute times and cost to each process.
We can then collect all our findings together and advise you whether you need a managed print service. And if you do, what the advantages are and what we can do.
Most print assessments really are a waste of time. In fact, a good deal of them are worse than that. They’re often inaccurate and sometimes even set up in a way that’s designed to cost you more than you should be paying. These unscrupulous print assessment providers have given the process a bad name.
So don’t just invite any old Tom, Dick Turpin or Harry into your office to lay their sales shtick out for you. Whether it’s a managed print provider with scruples or a savvy independent print consultant you invite in, make your print assessment work for you.