Information technology (IT) strategy is complex, as are the systems that fall under the IT infrastructure umbrella. Your enterprise imaging system (print/copy/scan and related document management systems) is no exception, though this is an area that is often overlooked with the perception that "as long as it isn’t broken," it doesn’t need fixing. Identifying the end user needs, printing costs and management best practices associated with an enterprise-level imaging system can quickly become overwhelming to an organization. If you mix a third-party vendor, internal politics and the end user fear that you are “taking away my printer” into this process, effective management becomes even more critical. It is imperative to centralize the decision-making around the enterprise strategy, ensuring maximum benefit realization and minimum headache.

    Centralized decision-making provides superior benefits for your organization, as your managed print outsourcing engagement can effectively serve your business from a more holistic vision and guidance. The complex nature of printing, and the numerous factors that contribute to the print landscape, including costs, diverse users and various needs, presents the threat of missed opportunity. It is important to gain an overall view of all aspects of printing, across all departments, to properly guide decision-making to best fit your organization. This can only be done with consolidated decision-making.

    You may ask yourself, “Why do we need to worry about decision-making if we are outsourcing the management of our print operations?” Essentially, though a vendor will manage the day-to-day aspect of print fleet management, such as supplies fulfillment, monitoring and break-fix control, your organization requires an overarching management presence that has your unique goals and needs in mind. Even before you reach the point of outsourcing to a vendor, you must have a clear vision for what you want to achieve, what degree of flexibility or control you want to keep versus what you want to outsource and how you will ensure the proper governance to guide the vendor and keep your internal customer base happy while achieving broader corporate objectives.

    In utilizing the understanding and focus of a consolidated managerial presence, your organization gains increased insight and information needed to make the best possible decisions to influence cost reductions, workflow efficiency boosts and overall goal achievement. As seen in stage one of the Expanded Customer Adoption Model (Photizo Group: "Advanced Document Services: Moving Beyond MPS"), the centralization of decision-making represents an integral step in stage one, Control, serving as a foundation for further cost and functionality benefits for your organization.

    In Photizo’s engagements with large, global enterprises, such as World Bank Group, we have found that aligning internal organizations prior to the outsourcing engagement is critical. For example, purchasing is typically focused on cost, whereas the executive staff is focused on driving overall efficiency, and the IT organization wants to ensure internal user satisfaction and effectiveness. Clients often turn to vendors to provide guidance in this process but are often quickly disenchanted with what can be a self-serving motivation of the vendors in providing guidance. Photizo believes (and a disclaimer here–we do provide this service) that turning to an outside, objective consultant who specializes in this area is essential to breaking through internal barriers and external vendor motivations, which can sabotage a successful enterprise strategy. The consultant you work with should have a process for both guiding the strategic discussion (Where do you want to arrive? What do you want to achieve?) and implementing the tactical processes (How do you objectively access user needs and overcome resistance? How do you structure the request for proposal to be realistic, achievable and effective? What are the "hidden" costs you need to avoid?) to ensure you not only develop a successful strategy but implement an effective centralized management program.

    Managed print outsourcing, while extremely beneficial, is complex. Simplifying the barriers in decision-making, management and optimization of your engagement is critical to securing the benefits that will impact your organization’s bottom line. However, through implementing a best practice management strategy, you can drive revenue-impacting success through increased cost and waste (time, supplies, energy) reduction.

    Edward Crowley has more than 30 years of experience in the high-tech industry and is the president and CEO of Photizo Group, a global consulting and market intelligence firm. Learn more about managed print outsourcing or follow Mr. Crowley on Twitter @PhotizoGroup.