When it comes to output management, don’t sully the data

In a guest column today for LegalITProfessionals titled “Output Mangement: The Nirvana Strategy,” I put forth the argument that, in light of increases in output volume law firms are experiencing, this actually ushers in a key opportunity for firms to increase workflow productivity and capture cost-efficiencies through output management.

The overall volume of output (copies, prints and scans), in fact, in the legal community is increasing at a rate well over 10% per year.  The opportunity for law firms comes as a result of situating them with the optimum configuration for multifunctional and standalone devices, with ‘optimum’ defined as interdependent upon three important factors:  physical layout, culture and cost recovery strategy of the firm in question.

At the article’s end, I received the following comment from someone named Sully:

 “One point to consider when comparing costs of printing to a

[multi-functional device] MFD or a stand alone or networked group printer is employee time. If everyone is using the MFD for everything all of the time you will need more MFDs so that waiting in line doesn’t impact billable time. Robert may be using old numbers when it comes to the cost of printing from a copier versus a printer. Typically these days service organizations will maintain printers on cost per page model that is the same as or in some cases lower than copier output. YMMV depending on your location of course.”

This is the kind of scare tactic I am most accustomed to hearing from companies which sell printer maintenance contracts.  Sure, Sully is right —if you have employees standing in line at an MFD, this will impact efficiency and billable time of the firm.  However, Sully seems to misunderstand the meaning of ‘optimum’ in the article as a strategic placement of printers to maximize the usage of MFDs.

If the MFD is procured properly and the maintenance is structured properly and is competitive, MFD output is almost universally less expensive than local or networked printers when service and supplies are factored in.  And when optimally configured, there are no apocalyptic lines.

Most importantly, when reviewing your firm’s output management, make sure your information source doesn’t have a vested interest in your firm’s decision outcome and won’t, therefore, sully the data.  Engage with a firm that will provide unbiased benchmarks and data to ensure the outcome is in your firm’s best interest overall.

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