End of year reports are one of the largest print resources utilized by any organization, and therefore one of the most expensive.

Most annual reports span anywhere from 10 to over 200 pages and typically cost organizations $7,000 to over $100,000 to craft, print, and distribute.

While expensive, these documents are essential for any organization with multiple stakeholders, investors, or a public holding, and are required by law in some instances. And, most organizations will print thousands of copies, many of which are never actually utilized.

While the expense of the annual report is a necessary one, it’s also easy to cut costs, especially in terms of printing. These best practices for printing end-of-year reports and files will help you cut costs regarding one of the most expensive print items of the year.

Print In-House

Many organizations outsource annual reporting because they don’t have the internal resources to print documents or bind them. Unfortunately, doing so can double or even quadruple the cost of printing a report. Any organization working with a managed print services provider can utilize the service to upscale printing capabilities for the period, or to ensure printers capable of meeting those needs are in place.

Here, your printer and needs will heavily depend on the report, its size, and binding method. For example, simple folded and stapled booklets can easily be produced in-house, with limited hardware investment.

Most smaller printers have a limited capability to bind pages, which means you may have to keep your annual report under a certain size if you choose this route. Discuss your needs with your managed print services provider.

In some cases, you will already have the requisite printing capabilities, you’ll simply need tools for binding and finishing the document or an all-in-one printer capable of doing both.

Digitize Editing and Approval Processes and Workflows

Digitizing processes is an important cost-saving technique for organizations of all sizes, but one that is especially relevant when creating large-format documents like annual reports.

Traditional annual reporting involves dozens of stakeholders and editors, who will each print and re-print multiple copies of the document for editing, amendment, and additions.

This is especially true when multiple stakeholders are involved in a single item, such as the director’s report, which must then be sent to the director for separate approval. Chairpersons, directors, auditors, finance teams, and other contributors each need a way to interact with and edit the document without printing, and that means digitizing the process.

Digitization also helps you support end-of-year reports in other ways. For example, you can digitize and automate data collection processes throughout the year, dramatically reducing the time needed to prepare information for documents.

Annual reports are one of the most stakeholder-heavy documents you will create. This has traditionally resulted in practices like chairpersons printing 12 copies of a draft to take to the board, or mailing physical copies of a document back and forth. Digitization allows you to implement APIs and directly incorporate stakeholders into workflows, which will save extensive time during editing.

For example, writers can request data from finance directly inside the application they use to create the document, data can be submitted inside the app, and then moved to the next step. Depending on your organization, this might be in an existing tool such as Microsoft Word or in your own apps. In either case, it directly reduces the number of times files have to be printed, dramatically reducing total costs.

Start Processes on Time

Starting your annual report too late will increase costs and it will likely reduce the quality of end results. In most cases, you should have print solutions in place a minimum of one month before expected print, which means either having your managed service provider (MSP) implement printers as a solution or choosing and contracting an outsourced print company before that time.

Most printers will need 3 weeks to professional prepare a print-request, and you should give internal printing at least that time as well.

Cut Wasteful Printing

It’s important to instigate printing standards to reduce waste and reduce total costs. For example, setting print margins, page saturation, fonts, margins, and other details to reduce total ink or toner and paper usage will cut costs.

Most estimates suggest that it costs anywhere from 0.06 to 0.13 cents per page to print, which adds up quickly when printing thousands of 10+ page documents.

  • Choose a font that reduces ink usage
  • Utilize duplex printing
  • Use smart margins
  • Use smart graphic design to minimize page count and graphics

While it is important to cut costs, you don’t want to do so at the expense of creating a beautiful and impactful annual report. Font, images, graphics, and margins should be cost-conscious, but not entirely focused on reducing costs.

Print On-Demand

Most organizations don’t need many of the copies of annual reports they print. While it makes sense to print more copies of the annual report if you’re contracting it out, it doesn’t if you are printing in house. Instead, you can print copies for the board of directors, stakeholders, relevant investors, and so on.

Once you’ve met those needs, you can simply print on demand when sending the report to new people, prospective employees, new investors, and to events or organizations. This allows you to reduce total costs by cutting unnecessary prints, and reducing total waste.

The annual report is one of the most important documents you will print all year, so it’s important to budget and spend money creating something relevant and appealing. However, taking steps to reduce waste, cut unnecessary printing, and optimize processes will help you to greatly reduce total costs and improve the process as a whole