By: Linda Daly
Managed print services firm Ergo helps clients get the most out of their printing requirements, writes Linda Daly.
Ergo, a Dublin based provider of managed print services (MPS), has increased its customer sites by 21 per cent in the past six months. John Purdy, chief executive of, said that the growth was on foot of the company's recent entrance into the British and central European markets.
At the start of the year, Ergo entered into a joint venture with British IT solutions specialist XMA, with which it now has a base in Nottingham. "The market is very buoyant at present. We have taken our MPS model and brought it into the UK and central Europe. We now have 40 sites in central Europe and offer our services to both Irish-based companies with subsidiaries in the UK and UK-based firms," he said.
Purdy said that printing and output costs typically accounted for 3 per cent of overall spend in most companies.
In the current business environment, where reducing costs is key, MPS has an important role to play. "It is a big chunk of money, and the more we can control on behalf of an organisation, particularly in a time of poor economic activity, the more important it is," said Purdy.
The MPS market is expected to grow in the years ahead. According to research released in October by MPS research and consulting firm Photizo Group, the market grew from $20 billion in 2008 to $24 billion last year. The report predicted that the market would grow to $68 billion by 2014.
"The MPS will continue to be very buoyant as we adapt to, and cater for, the changing needs of clients and the changing economic environment," said Purdy.
One of the first steps of establishing a successful managed print solution is reducing the ratio of devices to users. Purdy warned companies against buying too many printers.
"The more printers you put in, the more people print and the more consumables they use. A lot of printers and multifunctional devices are sold by the manufacturer at a loss. The reason being, if a man has the razor, he's going to buy the blades. If you have the printers, you are going to buy the inks," he said.
Ergo works with clients to consolidate their printers, identifying the printing needs of firms. "We rightsize the fleet, taking the best from what the client's existing fleet is, augmenting that with new devices if needed and turning it into a print-as-a-service solution.
"We, as a solutions provider, take ownership and responsibility of every sheet of paper that comes out of those devices,and charge this back to the customer as a cost per page," said Purdy.
While on the face of it, you might expect MPS providers to want as many printers as possible on one site, this is not the case, according to Purdy.
"Our job is to make sure that our customers don't use the same volume of paper, so that they use 20-30 per cent less than the market norm. If our clients print less, we are getting less money, but we are also making sure that they give us the contract next year and the year after," he said.
The signing of a managed print services (MPS) contract between Louth County Council and Ergo paved the way for other public sector bodies to follow suit, according to John Purdy, chief executive, Ergo.
The two-year agreement, signed earlier this year, is expected to reduce paper output at Louth County Council offices by 15 per cent. So far, Ergo has rolled out the MPS at two-thirds of the 24 council sites in Louth, varying in size from two man operations to facilities employing up to 70 staff.
Purdy said the provider had replaced large numbers of hardware and consumables in use on the council sites, with a smaller range of networked printers and multi-functional devices. Eugene Mulholland, head of information systems, Louth County Council, said that the agreement had enabled cost-cutting and control measures on the 24 sites.
"What we have seen in the last couple of months is an ability to pull information and reports on printer usage. We didn't know how much we were actually using, with regards to toner, paper and maintenance. If you can't measure it, you can't manage it, and probably the best output so far has been our ability to measure our usage," he said.
The change in printing culture at Louth County Council has seen the council consolidate its printing devices from 145 devices, provided by seven separate vendors, to 45 HP printers and multifunctional devices.
These, according to Mulholland, have been distributed strategically around 18 council sites so far. The ratio of employees to printers has been reduced from five to one to 16 to one.
Louth County Council is also using swipe cards to identify the users at each machine. This ensures that there is less wastage, as documents are printed only when the individual is standing at the machine.
In addition, the swipe card technology provides the council with detailed information on usage patterns.
"It is very much a culture change. Mostly, before this, there would have been one or two upward printers in an office. Now, our staff members have to walk to their machines - it's actually building team spirit, as staff are interacting more," said Mulholland.
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