Copiers — IT or Facilities Responsibility??

I have watched the purchasing decision for many of the copiers that are going out today change hands from Facilities to IT.  Often this is a tough battle of politics within a company where one person (the Facilities person) has one preferred vendor and the other (the IT specialist) has another vendor they like.  Both can feel an obligation to their business partners and don’t want to see people they have worked hard with get pushed out the door.  Why is this happening?

The primary reason is today’s copier is much closer to a computer than copiers 10 years ago were.  10 years ago, they were more like lighting equipment or another general commodity.  Now, these devices can print, copy, scan, scan to specific software, require being put on the network and essentially become an IT supported device.  What would I suggest a company do if facing this situation?

1) I would try and make sure all parties WORKED TOGETHER within a company.  Competition is good, so giving both vendors a real shot is a valid option.

2) Whoever buys the device needs to be involved in supporting it.  If they are not, then there will be bitterness that develops as one group will complain about everything they have to do now that they didn’t have to before. They complain because they weren’t even involved in the selection process.  If Facilities or Purchasing retains the final purchasing authority for the copier, they need to be given tasks which will make a poor decision affect them directly.  An example might be they are the ones to call for the service calls, etc…

3) Utilize the relative strengths of each group.  The most saavy customers we have use IT to really check out the machine and then IT passes us to purchasing who approves the final contract which is for the item the IT people recommend.  Essentially a company who does this is saying we think our IT staff is best equipped to tell us what will work and our purchasing department is best equipped to negotiate the contract to get what IT said will work best for us.

4) Lighten up a bit.  Everyone complains they are too busy for everything these days.  If a task is getting taken off your plate, relax a little and enjoy having one less responsibility.

5) If your company is going to re-delegate, make sure you bring everyone together and explain what you are thinking and let them voice concerns and work to eliminate those concerns.  Ultimately though, you may have to make someone unhappy to get the best device for your company. (This cuts both ways…  some IT people are only looking at the bottom line and not functionality in a copier as they don’t tend to use them much…  this can be just as bad…)