How many printers was the IT department of the City of Rochester managing in 2010? More than 450. . .and this was no joke.
"We had accumulated 459 of them," says David Mayor, Rochester's CIO. "We just had so many printers."
And those printers were costing the city money.
"We had just closed a $50 million gap in our budget, which, for a city of our size--a population of a little over 200,000 people--is a significant reduction in our operation budge," explains Mayor. "Our senior management team was faced with driving down operating costs and was looking at every opportunity to do that without compromising our services to our constituents."
One of the city's strategic priorities is leveraging information technology to re-engineer business processes, Mayor says. "Probably every other government agency faces similar challenges, but we see technology as a key enabler to driving down operating costs" he notes. "We are very open to looking at technology to reduce costs."
To that end, the city inventoried what technology it was using across all of its departments. Its printers, for example, had been bought by individual departments prior to the establishment of the CIO's office, in 2006. "Until we did the assessment I had no idea we had that many printers," Mayor says.
It was at this point that city neighbor Xerox reached out and said, 'How can we help you?'" Mayor says. With Xerox's assistance, Rochester created a roadmap for revamping its entire printing environment. It shed hundreds of machines and wound up with just 168 printers--including 24 Xerox ColorQube 9200 Series multifunction printers.
The assessment also made Mayor aware of how much money was being wasted on consumables for all of those devices. Before it began to make the printer swap in October 2010, the city had 220 different printer models, each requiring its own consumables.
"Every time we had to purchase new toner, we had to issue a purchase order that went through a whole bureaucratic process, which was costing us money just in procurement, let alone the toner," he says. "Those are the hidden costs."
The city is also saving money now on power by running fewer devices.
Selling the city's upper management on the project, Mayor says, was easy: "It was a lot of low-hanging fruit. I came in and said we're going to upgrade our printers to world-class technology, improving the quality of our printing while saving $2 million. This was an easy discussion at that level."
That $2 million in savings for equipment, consumables, and maintenance was calculated across the five-year life of the city's contract with Xerox.
While management was sold on the idea, employees initially weren't. "[The plan] was met with a little bit of resistance up front, because people didn't want to give up their personal printers. Taking someone's personal printer off their credenza is no way to win a popularity contest," Mayor jests. However, things went much smoother once the city's mayor was on board. "As is the case with most technology initiatives," says Mayor, "it really helps if you can get top-down support. After we deployed the printers, I received no resistance."
Senior managers also helped by communicating the need to reduce costs across all departments. "When you save $2 million, you're saving jobs," says Mayor. "You can consolidate your printers or you might have to ante up additional headcount."
Key to making the change happen, Mayor said, was help from Xerox in conducting the initial assessment and helping build the business case for moving to managed print services. "Our budget director didn't believe all the numbers at first, but after some due diligence he realized there were some real savings to be had. And there are more benefits. Moving to a managed service has helped free the IT team to work on other projects.
For other CIOs challenged with keeping printing costs down, Mayor says it's important to step back and take a look at your print environment holistically. " When you're buying the onesies and twosies, you end up with lots of models and different types of printers. You must, therefore, devise a strategy that really drives an overall governance process for the acquisition and deployment and maintenance of printers."
This article was originally published on 01-17-2012