Childcare centre picks single source for managed print services

The IT manager of Queensland childcare business Sesame Lane has chosen a new provider for managed print services, and says he felt more comfortable going direct with a single vendor rather than a partner or reseller.

Michael Aisthorpe had a problem. The IT Manager of 14-branch childcare business Sesame Lane, Aisthorpe was fortunate that the company’s centres were all within a half-hour’s drive of its headquarters. But he was also frustrated that each centre used a seperate fax, printer and photocopier that offered only limited remote management facilities.

“I would have to drive there to fix them,” he told SearchCIO ANZ, a drain on his time that was not appreciated. The three machines also used different consumables, a drain on the company’s finances that also won few friends.

Aisthorpe quickly saw that a single multifunction device would offer a far simpler and cheaper proposition and researched these machines and a managed service to support them and provision them with consumables.

Along the way he came to the conclusion that only a vendor that could supply and service its hardware was suitable for Sesame Lane.

“Service from the company was critical: I can’t afford to be given the run-around. I want one point of communication to get the ball rolling so that if a device fails a technician arrives in a timely fashion.”

“I believe that dealerships’ their key objective is to make as much money as they can. A lot of the feedback I have found is that dealers try to make parts last as long as they can to save costs, and that makes issues for us because it makes machines less reliable.”

“In my experience vendors have profit and their reputation to worry about so I did not want to work with a dealership.”

Aisthorpe feels his decision – he eventually settled on Canon – has quickly been vindicated by an unexpected preventative maintenance call that saw the company proactively assess the health of his new fleet of multifunction devices. “I can guarantee a dealer would never offer preventative maintenance,” he said. “And if a dealership happened to be cheaper, my recommendation would still be to go direct.”

Document management wins the deal

While Aisthorpe was insistent on working with a vendor and a vendor alone, his choice was made on the grounds of integration with document management software.

Sesame Lane valued this application because one of the outcomes of its migration to multi-function devices has been electronic capture of the many forms parents are required to complete when enrolling children and applying for childcare benefits from the federal government. The company used to fax those documents between offices, but degradation in image quality presented a problem for head office staff charged with data entry. The new devices now scan forms, convert them to PDF and email them to head office for later processing.

Canon possessed a product that offered impressive integration with hardware and superior workflow features, leading Aisthorpe to select it ahead of products from incumbent Konica Minolta.

Aisthorpe also feels he got a better deal on print costs from Canon.

“We arranged a five year lease for the copiers and locked in costs-per-page for five years,” he said. “Others would lock the price for a couple of years and then increase it according to the consumer price index (CPI).”

Choosing the five year lock-in is therefore a bet that costs won’t fall faster than the CPI rises.

“We’ll pay one cent for a black and white page and 12 cents for colour,” Aisthorpe says. “

Does the cost of copies go down? Yes, but not a lot over five years. Maybe in five years we c could get colour copies for ten cents, but with CPIs rise I think we would pay more.”

And even if Sesame Lane misses out on savings of a cent or two per page in 2016, Aisthorpe knows the company is already saving money because he has more time for tasks that are far more productive than driving across town to fix printers.

“Our new multifunction devices all have web interfaces. I can see what jobs have not been printed, or what has not scanned. I can find faults from here and 99% of the time I can fix it. If I can’t, we call Canon and they come out to do the job.”

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