Saying managed document services (MDS) and to a lesser extent a sub-discipline, managed print services (MPS), can help companies grow, improve customer service and reduce costs is easy, says Robert Janssen, director of direct channel operations at Ricoh SA.
The practical implementation of these services, however, is different for every organisation, which results in distinct benefits. How could your organisation benefit?

Three recent customer cases divulge how they used combinations of MDS and MPS to improve their operations, employee productivity, customer service and meet business goals and strategic objectives.

Distributed environment, tens of thousands of documents
A waste disposal business transports waste to its own or third-party sites, for disposal or recycling, using thousands of vehicles. But it controls one-third of exchanged documents. Drivers must complete weigh bridge bills, tip tickets and manifests. Office workers must capture the data from documents, which are stored for retrieval to create invoices and other financial documents.

It is easy to lose one document from abundant paperwork, which increases debtor days and billing costs, and leads to poor customer service. This customer is serious about its role in preserving the environment and leads environmental protection in its industry. It requires undisputed audit trails for collected waste including dates, times, locations, personnel, and use.

The customer employed a three-phase plan to automate its environment. Phase one: digitise manifests. Phase two: digitise third-party weigh bridge and tip tickets. Phase three: link the document system to the ERP system. The results so far:

* 5 000 monthly manifests cut to one page from four, carbon paper removed from the equation and digital pens create and record information;
* Which cut the cost of manifests by 85c and reduced annual paper use by 180 000 sheets;
* All documents: manifests, weigh bridge bills, tip tickets, are now digitised;
* Customers get a consolidated PDF account instead of individual documents for every skip bin; and
* The manifest process is automated.

In future this customer will use optical character recognition (OCR) to digitise documents at third-party sites beyond its control.

Blueprint for global rollout
173 ageing printers served 800 employees at a healthcare customer across five locations in South Africa. The company is serious about sustainability and environmental conservation, operational costs and office productivity.

The company’s US parent scoped this project and attempted rollouts in Europe but failed to meet environmental and productivity guidelines and specifications. A pilot project in 2014 at the South African operation indicated a new approach would be successful. Rollout began in 2015. The print management solution rationalised printers based on use patterns, employee locations and operational requirements, and uses software to bring intelligence to the environment.

The results:

* Cut 133 devices from the environment;
* Will print 26-million fewer pages in the contract lifetime;
* Will produce 55 tons fewer CO2 emissions;
* Save 55 000 kilowatt-hours;
* Save R160 000 on paper costs;
* Save R250 000 on maintenance;
* Save R53 000 on electricity; and
* Gain follow-me printing and productivity enhancements.

Productivity benefits include the communications manager, for example, who is a regular traveller from Johannesburg to Cape Town. She sends meeting documents to print from either home or the Johannesburg office upon departure and collects printed documents from the nearest printer at the Cape Town office.

The project is a success, which led to the customer using it as a blueprint for global deployment. The South African team will share its knowledge to effect the global rollout.

Change management proved important to the project’s success. It led employees to understand what would change, why, how it affected them and the company, and how the project benefits the environment.

Lower energy levels power productivity
A global petroleum company with an office in Johannesburg supports responsible energy consumption. It sought to reduce its energy consumption and improve employee productivity, reduce operational costs, and improve operational efficiencies.

It began the shift to a paperless office and centralised records management two years ago. The project included a managed print programme to rationalise printers and paper use. It progressed to back scanning five-million paper records stored at Metrofile. In future it will scan records for all departments and digitise future processes affecting 900 employees.

This customer benefits by:

* Reduced audit failures due to data loss, as well as business rules and best practices for audit and legislative compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), assisted conformation to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Act due to security and document tracking features, and future legislation such as the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act;
* Replacement of all paper-based, error-prone work by automated, digital processes;
* Digital archiving reduces physical document storage costs and results in indexed documents with efficient and intangibly cost effective retrieval;
* Ease and flexibility of reviewing and approving documents;
* Crucial document retention reduced from five years to one; and
* Further reduction of CO2 emissions.

The return on investment (ROI) for the back-scanning phase of the project is estimated at 11 months.

Three constituents
MDS constitutes capture (creating information), transformation (how information moves through the business) and management (processing information so it adds business value).

Better processes result in more productive employees who increase revenues, lower costs, and make customers happier (because processes are efficient). An IDC study reveals 83,2% of respondents believe streamlining business functions would help grow revenues, enable products and services to get to market quicker, and enable the business to provide better customer service.