Print is evolving, so purchasers must too

Phil Machin
3 February 2014

3 February 2014 | Phil Machin

Phil Machin is director at Bridge ProcurementThe world printing machinery and supplies industry is expected to exceed $21 billion (£17.2 billion) by 2015, according to Global Industry Analysts, with no signs of a slowdown.

With more pressure from CSR to reduce printing, and more employees provided with tablets allowing on demand access to all files, surely the queue for the printer has gone?

Well, it has certainly reduced due to the adoption of secure print technology by over 50 per cent of retailers. Employees are now able to print when and where they want to, reducing hours of lost labour every month. But with more documents than ever in circulation, and over 80 per cent of us preferring to print them out rather than read and review on screen volumes certainly haven’t reduced.

Not only have our print needs increased, they have evolved. The retail world continues to have an above average need for coloured print copy. This makes sense given the ever-growing new season’s collections. More product designers and buyers are turning to high quality print to vet and check samples and CAD designs from suppliers and colleagues around the world. Creative directors continue to need to visualise and proof in-house marketing and design on paper, rather than on screen.

So critical is the need for a high-end colour print management that specific service levels with 24/7 uptime are paramount coupled with the need for no degradation in quality. But implementing such technology and round the clock support comes at a price. Not only the hardware investment standpoint but also from a per copy maintenance charge. Colour is up to ten times higher than black and white copy, so the need to control and manage use is critical.

Closer involvement from procurement is part of the solution to this, coupled with a drive to increase education and awareness.

While this may sound obvious, are you sure you have the right managed print supplier with the right contract in place? Are their terms optimised for your needs, and is their performance on credits and maintenance as it should be? What do they do to proactively reduce your costs? Do they hit their four-hour service level agreements?

Procurement’s remit is becoming broader than addressing the questions above. It can deliver more value when it also moves into the realms of stakeholder engagement and education.

Understanding the departmental trends and who needs to print what is the first step towards addressing education and engagement. Delving into management information to understand trends, and connecting with departmental stakeholders to talk them through their requirements and current and projected usage and costs is critical. Finance will soon start to print in black and white if they know it is 10 times cheaper. But are all employees aware of how to adjust print settings?

Once you understand your print needs, print management software will be critical to ensure the right departments are able to print in colour and usage and copier maintenance is properly managed, monitored and controlled, ensuring zero downtime and no incorrect print set ups.

☛ Phil Machin is director at Bridge Procurement and previously held senior procurement roles at Burberry and COLT Telecommunications

Darmstadt-Dieburg, Hessen (DE)
Competitive salary and great benefits. Relocation assistance available.
Brussels, Belgium
Competitive remuneration package
Beaumont Select
CIPS Knowledge
Find out more with CIPS Knowledge:
  • best practice insights
  • guidance
  • tools and templates