Managed Print Service Cuts Red Ink at FamilySearch

By Samuel Greengard

One of the biggest IT nightmares associated with running a large, distributed organization is managing hundreds or thousands of printers. A few years ago, FamilySearch, a nonprofit organization committed to helping people learn about their family lineage, was mired in a tangle of printing technology.

“We had an almost completely unmanaged environment, and centers were largely on their own,” recalls Clint Broderick, IT manager for FamilySearch.

The organization, which operates more than 4,700 family history centers in 129 countries (supported by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), offers research tools, image scanning, digitizing, image preservation and online indexing.

“The centers are open to the public for free, and people drop in and do research on their genealogical lines or ancestry,” Broderick explains. “Oftentimes, at the end of a session, they print out documents related to their findings.”

Executives had no idea how many visitors were printing documents, how many prints they made, or the costs associated with toners and printing. They also couldn’t determine how much waste occurred.

“When we began visiting the centers, we found more than 700 different makes and models of printers,” Broderick says. “We also saw toners that were expired or didn’t work with the current models. There was a huge amount of inefficiency.”

In 2009, FamilySearch turned to Lexmark to explore a managed print services (MPS) environment. The organization installed a couple of dozen printers “too get feedback from the staff and determine whether an MPS initiative made sense,” Broderick notes.

A year later, the organization began rolling out new printing devices across the organization. This included at least one Lexmark X466 MFP at each location and, depending on the size of the center, additional Lexmark E460 single-function devices. Larger centers include as many as 100 PCs, Broderick says.

The results have been impressive. FamilySearch expects to achieve savings exceeding $1.3 million in capital printer and scanner expenditures and savings of approximately $7.6 million in the cost of toner, paper and other consumables. Overall, it expects to achieve a 53 percent reduction in the number of devices needed for copying and printing.

The organization projects that it will realize a net saving of more than $7.7 million over a five-year span. Moreover, Broderick says that IT can now view the devices from a central dashboard and proactively manage supplies. “Now we know exactly what is going on with our devices in the centers,” he says.

FamilySearch is currently developing an app that will allow visitors to scan documents and photos directly into their online family tree without using a computer interface. And it is continuing to roll out the MPS devices. At present, the organization has deployed the printers at approximately 1,900 locations, and it will roll them out at another 550 over the next year.

“The initiative has allowed us to create a far more efficient environment and helped us get a difficult situation under control,” Broderick reports.