Optimizing a Global Print Environment

By Caroline Basyn  |  Posted 2010-10-15

SUMARY: When Procter & Gamble realized the print environment supporting its approximately 135,000 global employees was both inefficient and costly, the company selected a managed print services provider to support printing at the 200 work sites of the Cincinnati-based consumer goods corporation. Caroline Basyn, director, Global Business Services, explains how P&G adopted a new printing strategy to improve efficiency, save costs, help digitize the company and support its sustainability goals.

Procter & Gamble, which touches the lives of people around the world 4 billion times a day—and prints and copies millions of documents annually—began in early 2008 to investigate the efficiency of its document and print systems. We inventoried 45,000 individual devices—including copiers, printers, scanners and fax machines—and found that, on average, each device supported only four people. In addition, each work site managed its own fleet, and P&G did not have a consistent method to purchase supplies or provide maintenance.

So we began looking for ways to optimize our document and print processes. We knew that managed print services (MPS) could simplify and digitize our global printing infrastructure by consolidating devices and by helping to control how and when documents are printed. It would also identify ways to drive costs out and deliver substantial sustainability benefits. We also wanted a print strategy that would deliver innovative ways for P&G employees to be more productive and more mobile.

In September 2008, we began working with Xerox, which helped us set goals for an MPS implementation. The goals included:

• supporting P&G’s “Give Back 500 Million Minutes” program by reducing the time employees spend on print- and output-related issues;

• implementing strategies to move paper-based processes to the digital realm for ease of movement and use, security improvement, retention and access;

• reducing operational costs by an estimated 20 to 25 percent; and

• cutting print-related power usage by 30 percent and paper consumption by 20 to 30 percent annually.

The MPS approach will soon manage the entire fleet as if it were one printer. Xerox manages documents across our entire global print infrastructure: from the office to the print center to the virtual workplace. This gives us a comprehensive view and control over companywide print spend and other important metrics such as sustainability and productivity statistics.

We consolidated our printer fleet from the original 45,000 to fewer than 10,000, with an average of 15 employees using each device instead of only four. The smaller fleet reduces our maintenance and energy costs, yet with the recommended workflow and process improvements, we’re not sacrificing productivity.

In fact, the new strategy helps our employees be more time-efficient because they spend less time on print-related activities. The process changes free up hundreds of minutes of employee time annually—time that can be spent focusing on the business rather than dealing with documents.

We’re boosting productivity with support for home, virtual and mobile printing. We’re taking the hassle out of working from home or on the road. Virtual workers receive the same support system as those who work in the office. Off-site devices are monitored, and technical assistance is available via phone, e-mail or the Web. Xerox’s Mobile Print solution, the first result of the Xerox and P&G Innovation Council, allows employees to print directly from their smartphones.

Engaging Employees

Change of any kind is hard to swallow in an organization, but our employees’ acceptance and adoption of these new processes was crucial to its success. Optimizing the print environment with productive devices isn’t enough. Our workers need to understand and feel good about best practices. We worked with Xerox to take a strategic approach toward change management, focusing on how best to support the staff during the transition and keep disruptions to a minimum.

Before the MPS implementation, we used Lean Six Sigma-based assessments to evaluate our employees’ daily work processes in order to examine habits and identify inefficiencies. The workflow improvements were then made with the employees in mind: We considered the best ways to maximize benefits while continuing to meet staff needs.

We provided on-site training to help our employees manage the new print environment, including tips on how to reduce the time spent on print-related activities. We created a Web portal to provide ongoing support that our workers use for online learning and easy procurement of equipment and consumables. We made every effort to ensure employees felt comfortable and understood the full functionality the new environment offered.

Understanding the need to help our employees adapt to the cultural change—and sometimes to the loss of their beloved desktop printers—we launched a commercialization campaign to help them better understand the reason for our changes. The campaign was targeted at business leaders and users at each site as that facility underwent the transformation. It provided information about how the new print environment would make P&G more sustainable and cost-efficient.

A little competition didn’t hurt either: We posted the progress each business unit was making internally and used charity giveaways to encourage users to embrace the change. Allowing each division to compare itself to the others encouraged further improvements.

Still, some people were concerned that the equipment reduction and new processes would negatively affect their productivity. There was a perception that desktop printers were necessary when, in reality, having to maintain personal devices was difficult and often resulted in extended downtime.

Now that the implementation is running at full force, employees are finding the equipment much more reliable, and supplies and maintenance issues are no longer a concern. They also are enjoying the freedom to print any time, any where, and understand that MPS is giving them minutes back in their day to focus on business rather than printing.

Lessons Learned

We’re on target to meet our objectives. Stream-lining our global printing structure has transformed the way we work. We have new benchmarks for reliability and efficiency. The MPS initiative makes our workplace more sustainable and is a step on our journey to “go digital.”

MPS offers more than equipment, maintenance and supplies; it is also about process improvement. Organizations considering an MPS implementation should select a strategic partner that can provide recommendations for ongoing improvement. I recommend choosing a partner that will:

• work closely with the internal team to develop reasonable short-term objectives, as well as a long-term ideal environment;

• understand the importance of making cost savings a priority, without sacrificing productivity;

• assess document flow throughout the organization and recommend processes that will maximize efficiency and work for employees;

• consider the importance of incorporating sustainability objectives into the strategy;

• provide a strong change-management and training program for employees; and

• implement an ongoing system to monitor the environment and make necessary improvements for continuous optimization. l

Caroline Basyn, director of P&G’s Global Business Services, is responsible for site services and built the strategy for transforming its print services. She has more than 24 years of experience at P&G.