An outsourcer outsources: Xerox shuffles EDS’s papers

EDS Canada will turn over its document management burden to Xerox Canada Ltd. in a $14 million agreement that will also see The Document Company improving its workplace


Late last week Xerox said 27 EDS Canada employees at seven customer locations in Toronto, Whitby and Ottawa would be transferred as part of the agreement.

Besides hardware and software, Xerox will provide centralized reproduction department graphic design creative services; mail and document distribution; shipping and receiving and reception services.

Xerox launched its Canadian Global Services unit in March, providing managed services and business innovation for clients like Royal Bank, the government of British Columbia and several universities.

Xerox Global Services Canada vice-president and general manager Mel Thompson said these customers are primarily driven to third parties to reduce costs, which are guaranteed under contract with Xerox.

“”Really, they’re buying a level of service from Xerox at a certain price that is below what they’re currently paying,”” he said. “”It also allows them to focus their own people back on some things that aren’t as mundane as handling mail or running a print shop.””

In the area of document design and creation, for example, an individual may have an artistic flair or a good eye for colour. This employee could be put to a much higher use by designing documents, applying colour and then handing it off to a third party like Xerox to do the printing, Thompson said.

Chris Lord, EDS’s vice-president of strategic outsourcing, said the company regularly spends a great deal of time putting together complex request for proposal documentation with a lot of graphic content and a high degree of customization. These are then put into huge binders or a series of binders of up to 1,500 pages or more.

“”You have to produce multiple sets of them at the last minute because you’re working on the value proposition, the pricing components, and really getting all the data to come together,”” he said. “”Why wouldn’t we look to someone to manage that process?””

Though EDS is hoping to see some cost reductions from the partnership, Lord said the main benefits would likely be more intangible.

“”It’s a redirection of energy on core activities versus supposing activities, I guess,”” he said.

Thompson agreed. “”This whole area of workflow of analysis is so fascinating because it really looks at how people think, how they socialize, how they actually produce the work they’re producing,”” he said. “”Often the technology that companies have paid millions for is so under-utilized that it’s really quite easy for us to go in and find some opportunities to really leverage the technology they’ve got to do their work faster or more productively.””

Thompson said the key to successful managed services is a diplomatic approach to the assessment of workflows in a company that have existed for many years.

“”That really gets at the whole sociology of change management; it’s a huge factor,”” he said. “”If we do an assessment and make a recommendation and start moving forward on implementation without really strong sponsorship from the organization, especially at the top levels, that solution will fail.””

Usually departments want to change, Thompson added, but if a document management project extends across the enterprise-wide there are some groups which might not have been consulted.

Thompson admitted the managed services business is a lot different from Xerox’s days as a pure-play hardware vendor.

“”In the hardware business it’s very transactional — the whole notion of ‘needs assessment’ has to do with how fast (the product is), do they want colour, what level of quality do they require?”” he said. “”When it comes to workflow analysis and how people work, the type of questions are totally different, and the level of engagement is very different as well. Our sales cycle now take 18 months to two years in order to get through them. In a hardware cycle, for the highest, largest piece of equipment it might be four or five months.””

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