Lot 2 of the Print Management Framework gives PfH members the ability to make cost-effective decisions regarding printers, photocopiers and other multifunctional devices without being hamstrung by a lengthy and costly tender process. But there is much more members can do to get the most out of the framework.
Engage with suppliers
Invite suppliers to do short presentations. This will help you focus on the ideas you like and structure your competition to get the best out of the framework.
For example, Ricoh provides recycled multifunctional devices (MFDs) which offer a very good reduction in environmental footprint but if you aren’t aware of these products you can’t consider whether they are right for you. Other suppliers will have their own examples. Find out what is possible.
Don’t overcomplicate things
Some organisations believe that coming to market for, say, 30 machines at once will simplify things and get them a better price. The reality is that very little influences pricing beyond the total size of the contract over the period.
If you want say, 15 MFDs now with the promise of another 10 if the supplier gets the job right and the final 5 at a later date, speak to suppliers. There is no need to overcomplicate things and often no financial benefit.
Embrace account management
Account management exists to help buyers get more and more value over the lifetime of the contract, but only a minority of housing associations take advantage of it.
A classic example of this is the kind of rule that says a device will default to black and white/duplex or delete unprinted documents after 48 hours. The customer is scared of implementing the rules as they might get a bit of pushback from staff, so they park the rules and never revisit them, or the users find ways around them.
Appointing someone to keep an eye on print and engage with the supplier gives you the opportunity to review performance, talk about how you’re doing things and get suggestions on how to make changes.
Embed social value
Housing associations are generally keen to embed social value through local employment, employing young people or disadvantaged groups, working with SMEs and so on. There is limited space on the tender document for suppliers to highlight everything they do to achieve these aims so meeting suppliers in advance will give you the opportunity to ask further questions about social value, ethics and environmental sustainability.
The big message here, then, is to talk to your supplier, stay engaged and allow us to help you.