April 5, 2021

Construction Success Story - Cost-conscious contractor tries “print as a service”

A long-time general contractor in a densely populated urban area had managed to keep his old, clunky large-format printer going for many years. And this was in addition to several other outdated smaller printers scattered throughout the office.

When he retired, his daughter took over. She wanted to upgrade the company’s office equipment but didn’t want to just throw money at the problem. So, when meeting with her CPA, she brought up the subject. He had an idea.

First, her accountant recommended digitizing as many of her documents as possible. Cloud-based solutions make digital building plans and documents accessible from anywhere via a laptop or mobile device, reducing the need for hard copies. Of course, paper is still sometimes necessary. For those instances, she could opt for “print as a service.”

Equipment and service

This approach relieves a construction company of the responsibility of owning and maintaining the large-format printers needed to produce hard copies of building plans and blueprints. It also eliminates the need to buy and maintain other office equipment.

Her CPA explained that print-as-a-service providers outfit customers with hardware and supplies (such as paper and ink/toner cartridges), along with additional parts and labor as necessary. Hard copies are still generated in-house, but printing is consolidated into a single service paid for via a monthly fee with no upfront equipment cost. Provided assets typically include up-to-date printers, copiers, scanners and supplies. “And they sit on the provider’s balance sheet,” her accountant said. “Not yours.”

A good provider will ensure all systems and devices are connected to a secure, Wi-Fi-enabled network. The contractor’s CPA advised her to look for a provider that also offers training as well as ongoing support, timely deliveries, routine maintenance, emergency repairs, and advice on choosing and implementing new equipment or features.

Careful comparison

To decide whether print as a service would be right for her operation, the contractor and her CPA first solicited bids from several local providers. Then they carefully compared the annual fees proposed to the projected cost of buying and maintaining new printers (and the associated supplies).

Some of the bids resulted in a break-even scenario in terms of costs. But, the contractor’s accountant pointed out, getting better performance and encountering fewer hassles with equipment should allow her staff to work more efficiently and with fewer distractions.

Positive results

Ultimately, the contractor decided to give print as a service a try. There happened to be an excellent provider in her area that offered a competitive bid. The early results are positive. Most notably, outsourcing her company’s print equipment needs has allowed the contractor to focus more on improving other, more-difficult-to-fix areas of the business.

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