Telstra, Canon sign largest MFD deal

In order to reduce its 'personal printing' scourge, Telstra has installed more than 1000 multifunction devices (MFDs) across 150 buildings in what is believed to be the largest project of its type ever in Australia.

Telstra's managing director of procurement Ian Wheatley told Computerworld the drivers for the device consolidation project included dealing with multiple brands of equipment, and the high costs resulting from a lack of order in their installation and management.

"We had a fairly horrendous ratio of devices-to-people and the cost didn't make sense," Wheatley said, adding many employees had their own printers sitting on their desks. "We wanted to develop a smarter way to fax, copy, and print, and [adopt] more environmental considerations around toner and paper use."

With those straightforward intentions, Telstra went to a number of undisclosed vendors looking for solutions and in the end it was user and device management that won the deal for Canon.

"Canon took it a step beyond as it also put on table the whole management of the devices [and] Canon worked with us when auditing the buildings," Wheatley said.

Each building needed to be "audited" to determine the capacity and type of MFD best suited to its employees' requirements. Installations began 12 months ago and the 150 main sites were completed last month. The smaller offices will now be equipped as required.

"We first introduced them into a Melbourne building to iron out any bugs and make sure staff were comfortable with the arrangement," Wheatley said. "It required a change to their processes" which was well publicized in-house.

Telstra has not disclosed the value of the deal but Wheatley did say it was "in the millions".

"We have a cost reduction of 40 percent and the ROI was within 12 months," he said, adding that most of this has resulted from reduced IT support costs, fewer support calls, and less overall maintenance. "This is the largest MFD project by far and I don't know of anyone who has done something on this scale."

Wheatley said the implementation process was smooth with most of the hiccups associated with people having to get up and walk to the device.

"We have integration capability where people can print to the nearest printer, and can pull up default printers on [another] floor," he said. "The other issue was security and printing confidential information, so the device won't print [secured pages] until someone enters their PIN."

As a result of the project Telstra's device count is down from 8800, a ratio of three employees per device, to a ratio of 18 per device.

"We now have far more control over devices for installation and configuration," Wheatley said, adding the fleet of MFDs has had over 98 percent uptime." Job re-routing to another device on the network and remote management are also benefits.

The mixture of colour inkjet and colour laser MFDs is energy conservative as is the default to double-sided printing to reduce paper use.

Senior general manager of Canon's business imaging solutions group, Mark Deere-Jones congratulated Telstra on achieving "the single, most integrated implementation of an MFD strategy", which will give the company a leading position among Australian enterprises.

"The whole basis of this is not just TCO but efficient use of the IT network [and one] that reduces waste," Deere-Jones said. "You can almost call an MFD an information hub in a market where there is low-hanging fruit, so it's an easy ROI."

To combat the problem of personal printers and general device proliferation, Deere-Jones recommends IT managers sell the concept of increased flexibility and better business processes resulting from shared MFDs.

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