Got the Office Equipment Blues?


Are you getting killed on printing, marketing, and computer network costs, yet still dealing with what doesn’t seem to be an adequate “big picture” solution? Should you centralize or provide desktop convenience for printing needs? Outsource IT support or make the investment to bring it in house? How should our marketing collateral be generated in the age of technology? These are all common challenges that go unanswered for many reasons, but primarily because our staff is overworked, our needs have changed over time, and these areas have not come together under the strategic company vision. The below information will help you to find that path to a more efficient environment, hopefully saving a tremendous amount of money, improving the workflow of your office, and leveraging your marketing budget more effectively.

Why does it matter?

Over my years in the business services industry I witnessed many organizations that would pay double, if not triple, their next door neighbor who had almost identical staff sizes and equipment. However, changes that evolved over time in “Business A” lead to them paying about $3,000.00/mo. on leases and supplies while the “Business “B could be paying as little as $1000.00/mo; both with a staff of about ten in similar environments. You can easily see that over the traditional equipment lease and purchase cycles, as well as existing support agreements, that this would lead to a substantial loss of money over time with a lack of alignment with your strategic vision.

 For marketing and advertising these disparities become even starker, with some companies showing little diversity in their marketing visions and unable to quantify the return on investment for any particular one. Recent studies have shown that the average company spends about 10% on marketing, with about a quarter of that now coming from digital and social media efforts, yet are only investing about 3.5% in IT services (1). Because of this move towards a balanced marketing profile using both traditional and new digital options we now see the necessity of strong IT skills within our marketing teams, and a need to incorporate that into our budget process.

Where do you start? 

First, it is important to quantify how much is being spent, who is doing the spending, and where is it going – this can be tricky. You must first look at who in your organization has authority to purchase anything from supplies, warranties, marketing collateral, leases, service/support, equipment and then gather any pertinent contract information or documentation. I usually find when doing an assessment that most of my clients do not have complete records and needed to reach out to numerous employees and existing vendors to find out the terms and pricing of their agreements, costs associated with marketing collateral, or quantified results.

It is now important to do a physical inventory of what you have and what it can produce, along with questions to the staff as to how it is being used. You will often find that you can simply move some assets around and this alone leads to improved workflow functionality for some of your crucial repetitive tasks. Did you know up to 40% of documents printed in the average office are recycled by the end of the same business day (2)? You will be surprised at how many suggestions are given to you if you simply ask them what is not working for them and what they need. Commonly people get hooked into the “speeds and feeds” narrative as to how flashy the specs in the brochure are and fail to recognize the significant improvements that can be made on an individual’s productivity by having a single source contract, streamlined billing and support, specific device functionality, as well as the cost benefits of competitive bidding and sourcing, proper research and reference checks, and finding a good fit for your organization that makes it easier to manage.

Now enter the spreadsheet, potentially the mother of all office creations! While the largest of all organizations have incredible software tools to automate this process, in the SMB arena very few can justify the expense and therefore the assets go unmanaged and accounted for. Over time I have seen customers that have mastered this art and use it as a valuable tool for maintaining and negotiating their fleet and supply agreements, moving assets around as opposed to making additional purchases, and fixing mistakes in billing with the multiple vendors they work with. This must be a fluid document, changing over time as your agreements do, but if you maintain accuracy it will save you a tremendous amount of time.

Identifying a Source for the Solution

You are now empowered with an asset report giving you a true cost of ownership regarding your technology fleet, an understanding of who in your organization is handling what, and can now begin the process of working with your existing vendors, or seeking out information from prospective ones, with a better understanding of how to leverage your business. If you are looking at making any significant changes you should use this document as a basis for where you are today, not necessarily of where you would like to be. When looking at the opportunity to achieve a specific objective (i.e. cutting costs, upgrading infrastructure, evaluating production of marketing collateral, etc..) make sure to specifically ask for project references where these vendors have helped others accomplish those same goals. It is a daunting task, and if you would like more information on your specific business situation please feel free to reach out, the results will be worth the investment.

Chris Chapleau is a leading consultant in managed solutions ranging has worked with companies of all sizes in achieving results.  He believes heavily in building community based relationships and has been active with the local chamber and association groups for almost 15 years. He has been voted Chairman of the Board, Volunteer of the Year, and been recognized for his support. For more information on how your business can take it to the next level please contact him at chris@mdiscv.com or (661) 219-5160 

 (1) Gartner - http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/digital-marketing/digital-marketing-spend-report.jsp 
(2) Equitrac - http://www.equitrac.com/downloads/10-WaystoReducePrinting_Final.pdf

 
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