Farm Credit Canada cultivates its printing strategy

Farm Credit Canada (FCC), the largest provider of business and financial services to the country’s farm and agriculture industry, praised the financial and environmental benefits of print optimization at WBM Office System’s annual gathering for the Saskatchewan IT industry.

Kimberley Schneider, procurement administrator for FCC, presented the company’s case study at the event, An Event for Change: Green Strategies in IT, which took place in downtown Saskatoon late last week.

“To put it simply, we are a bank. Yes, we deal with agribusiness, but we are a bank. There are two ways in our industry to save money. You can lend out more money or you can operate at a lower cost,” she said.

According to Schneider, FCC partnered with WBM roughly two years ago after requesting a proposal to find a single preferred vendor for procuring the company’s IT equipment.

The move towards print optimization began when FCC received a departmental request for an unusually large amount of printers that “we just didn’t want to buy,” said Schneider. “Instead of immediately placing the order, WBM suggested that a simple visit to the department with one of their print specialists and a brief discussion with some of our end users might uncover less expensive and more efficient alternatives.”

WBM discovered the root of the problem within a week. “Sixteen people stood around a single device manually flipping through a stack of papers piling up on the printer looking for their personal print jobs. The manager of the department thought, ‘We need more printers. Let’s order more printers.’

“Instead of buying five or ten printers, we just redeployed two and bought two mailboxes. Then we put those devices on a cost-per-page program to track, manage and predict our print expense within that department,” said Schneider.

The strategy was a success. “The realization was that we could effectively do this across the whole organization. We would not only be able to significantly increase our end user satisfaction, but we would create cost savings and turn our entire print fleet into a managed and controlled infrastructure,” she said.

Rather than engage in a major hardware acquisition, FCC waits for a particular user or department to raise an issue before proceeding with a print optimization strategy. “It could be a copier coming off a lease or a manager’s request for new printers,” said Schneider. “Working with WBM, we are able to quickly go on site with the end users, understand their workflow requirements, adjust any previous frustrations and optimize the print environment. So as the need comes up, we do it.”

Two months ago, FCC decided to visit their Edmonton Loan Administration Centre (LAC) after learning the office had not disposed of older printers, despite being issued new ones, said Schneider. The older models take up 96 per cent more energy, she explained, so throwing them away would result in an immediate cost savings for the company.

The office had 31 printers and 35 employees. “We had to physically go there to throw out the printers and we knew we wouldn’t be well accepted because each of them had their own printer hidden nicely under their desk,” she said.

The end result was 13 printers. FCC purchased ten new printers, redeployed three and added a mailbox on one of them, said Schneider. “This represented a 58 per cent cost reduction on the number of devices under management and this also helped us reduce our overall carbon footprint and consumption significantly.”

Toner costs went from approximately $2500 to $1600 a month, resulting in a savings of $11,000 annually from the Edmonton office alone. Schneider pointed out that additional savings from service, repairs, parts and labour aren’t even included in this amount.

ROI is estimated at 26 months. “That’s just on buying the printers. We didn’t take into account their not calling our help desks anymore. We didn’t take into account the energy consumption,” she said.

The new printers included HP’s P4015x and 9040MFP. “In most cases, we are consolidating pages onto faster MFP’s such as the 9040, with lower per page operating costs… the new devices themselves require far less energy to operate, as they benefit from technology such as instant-on fusers and low melt toner,” said Brett Bailey, manager of marketing and business development for WMB.

“Clients like FCC see cost savings in overall efficiencies in managing the infrastructure remotely, utilizing HP utilities such as WebJetAdmin and Universal Print Driver,” he added.

Initially hesitant to give up their personal printers, employees in the Edmonton office are now happy with the change, said Schneider. “They love the new equipment. They are more efficient with the added functionality of private print, personal mailboxes, scanning to e-mail, faxing from the desktop, the list goes on and on. Word gets out and our other offices aren’t worried about us taking away their office printers, but are eagerly waiting an office upgrade.”

“We believe our approach to print has resulted in better end user satisfaction, cost reductions on a number of fronts and we now feel we have control over our entire print infrastructure. We currently track all aspects of the environment, starting with end user requirements to total output volumes. Being able to track this information allows us to effectively manage it, so it’s no longer an unknown area with many unstructured costs,” said Schneider.

Schneider wrapped up her speech by recapping the environmental benefits that print optimization brings. “It’s exciting to see that through our work in simply managing our printers, it’s possible to find efficiencies for our organization while actively contributing to the environmental sustainability and reducing overall energy consumption.”

WBM hosted this year’s event, which themed environmental sustainability, in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation.

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