Boeing Saves Big By Cutting Imaging Costs

How a managed services solution helped the company save millions.

Hitting "Ctrl+P" can cost your business more than you think. It certainly did at aerospace giant Boeing. Imaging services—which includes production printing, office printing, faxing, scanning and related supplies—used to cost the company nearly $150 million annually. The problem, says Earl Beauvais, Boeing's director of print, plot and scan services, was that imaging wasn't centrally controlled, and the company used several vendors. Boeing also owned, operated and maintained about 32,000 imaging devices. The lack of an enterprisewide solution meant, among other things, that each department was responsible for purchasing its own toner, paper and other supplies.

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To increase efficiency and reduce cost, Beauvais and his team sought a managed services solution to handle everything from print cartridges to printer-upkeep across Boeing's 195 domestic sites and 168 international sites.

Imaging can be a good place to cut costs, says Forrester Analyst Craig Le Clair, as it's been "historically unmanaged." For example, company departments often order imaging devices and do the maintenance, which puts the costs on a decentralized budget. "Now, the trend is to centralize everything and manage it on one budget," he says. Companies are realizing they don't have the tools to efficiently manage their printing environment and are turning to vendors who "really know what they are doing," says Le Clair. Managed services providers, he says, have built sophisticated software to take the load off the company.

Beauvais spent 18 months researching and interviewing vendors, who had to show how they would manage the company's imaging technology needs while providing the greatest efficiency at the best price. He and his team chose a partnership comprised of Dell (for maintenance and asset management) and Lexmark (for devices). They picked them in part because Dell had infrastructure in place at Boeing.

To prove the concept, a six-month pilot implementation launched at Boeing's St. Louis office in May 2007. The St. Louis system includes 47 new Lexmark device categories, including printers, copy machines and scannners. "We replaced the devices because we didn't want variability of age," says Beauvais.

The beauty of managed services is that Dell owns the devices and handles maintenance, a key goal for Beauvais. Boeing saw ROI immediately because Dell's service contract cost less than its existing agreements. In the end, Boeing saved about 30 percent of its imaging maintenance and supplies costs, and 27 percent of its overall imaging costs annually at locations with the new system. The initiative began rolling out companywide at the end of 2007.

For Boeing, the benefits couldn't be clearer. Beauvais's staff can now focus more on other business needs, and the company's total imaging spend has been reduced to $110 million annually. Both will aid Boeing as it navigates a turbulent economy.

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