Print is undoubtedly one of the largest controllable business expenses, with some estimates suggesting organizations spend 1-3% of revenue on print. While some of this is necessary, many spend more on legacy printers, wasteful printing tactics, and employees who simply don’t understand the cost of printing. And, with some estimates showing organizations have employees printing 10,000+ pages per year, most organizations can definitely reduce individual personal printing.
These 10 tactics for print cost management and control will help your organization better understand how and where investments are going, so you can reduce total costs.
A print assessment will help you understand which printers are being used and what each printer costs. Most organizations install more printers than needed in an effort to prevent bottlenecks and over-used printers. However, having too many printers will greatly add to costs:
- Monthly service costs
- Lease or purchase costs
- Maintenance and repair costs
- Total footprint (run-time, electric, architecture, etc.)
It’s important to review printers to determine if they provide a return or don’t warrant the expensive. In most cases, businesses can save considerably by consolidating smaller printers (especially personal printers), into larger, centrally-located multi-function printers. These reduce total maintenance and lease costs per month, while offering the same or more print functionality with reduced load on IT and increased security.
At the same time, relying solely on shared printers may be a mistake. Most organizations should review individual needs to determine where printers make the most sense and implement a mix of small printers and large MFPs to optimize office productivity.
Implement User Access Management
Whether through pull-printing or simply user access management, it’s important to control which devices access the print network and for what. User access management allows you to track who is printing files and why, which also allows you to identify wasteful printing, inefficient business services, and areas that may need more or better print services to improve efficiency and therefore reduce costs.
Employees are a major source of print waste, simply because many aren’t aware of the true cost of print. Individuals often print files which they never pick up, print files which aren’t needed, or eventually throw files away before using them.
- Employees print everything as a standard
- Employees use print despite digitized workflows being available
- Employees print files to bring to meetings, despite managers already doing so
- Files are printed and forgotten about, and reprinted
- Individuals print backup copies for files “just in case”
Implementing education programs can greatly cut paper and ink waste by ensuring individuals know how and when to print files.
A self-assessment tool introduced by Brother International Corporation showed that just 36% of respondents utilize paperless workflows. At the same time, workflows are one of the largest sources of unnecessary print files. For example, individuals might print a file, sign it, and immediately scan it. They might also copy a file to send a paper version to someone who really only needs digital access.
Electronic file capture and sharing is crucial to reducing the total volume of print, especially in contract and document-heavy organizations. This also relates to data-backup and storage, where many organizations still haven’t implemented digital file-keeping. For example, automation can be used to automatically create copies of invoices and records as they are printed, rather than maintaining separate print-copies for business records.
Review Print Fleet Contracts
As document access shifts away from printing and towards mobile access and digital files, organizations are printing less. Most still maintain the same print contracts, sometimes maintaining printers with contracts for 100,000+ pages per month in every office. Most don’t use even a fraction of that print value, despite paying for it every month. One study suggests that just 19% of organizations utilize print devices meeting their needs.
A print-needs analysis can help you understand what you are printing and where, so you can adjust print contracts to meet needs. Why? Downsizing to printers that meet your needs or to a print contract to meet needs can dramatically cut monthly costs.
Add Print Standards to Cut Costs
Implementing print software across your organization enables cost-saving implementations to reduce total ink and paper waste. This can include tactics such as utilizing cost-saving fonts, asking individuals if they need single-side or color printing, and enforcing standards such as margins.
In most cases, you can save considerably by using the following as standards rather than options:
- Duplex printing
- Reduced print density
- Black & white printing
- Utilize draft-output printing
While these standards fall under employee education, it’s important to implement them as part of print software.
Simplify Print Architecture
Print architecture is a huge cost for most organizations, with some spending anywhere from 10-45% of IT time on print. This is important for organizations that maintain their own architecture and databases, because print can prevent IT from working on more value-added jobs.
- Review print architecture
- Reduce complexity by consolidating printers
- Review print networks to optimize or automate load redirection to prevent bottlenecks or overloading servers during peak usage
Print architecture costs can be considerable but they are also difficult to identify. Here, you should review costs with IT or as part of a print assessment.
Review Print Network Hardware Costs
Implementing and maintaining print servers is costly, resource intensive, and often requires significant attention from IT. At the same time, not all print servers are fully utilized, some are overloaded, and many result in extra costs related to bottlenecks, printer issues, and wasted time.
Reviewing costs directly associated with printer servers and cabling can help you determine if you’re using the right method to print. For example, you might be able to save money by redistributing print servers, implementing IP-printing to relevant workstations, or implementing virtual print servers or cloud servers to replace failing systems.
Introduce Smarter Business Processes
While nearly every office in an organization will print files, most can trace a large volume of costs to just a few sources. Introducing smarter business processes to reduce paper-waste and printing in these sources can greatly reduce costs.
Accounts Payable typically has to print files multiple times during every cycle, sharing files for adjustment, internal records, and external records. Introducing digital invoicing, records, and invoice approval can greatly reduce costs. For example, rather than printing an invoice and mailing it for approval, printing a final invoice and copying it for signature, and then copying the file to create multiple records, Accounts Payable can request digital approval, create a digital final copy, print and sign, and then scan the file back into records and send a digital copy to all involved parties.
Contract-heavy organizations face the same issues as accounts payable. Introducing digitization processes can greatly reduce these costs. Consider implementing digital contract approval, consolidated print files, and, where necessary, digital signatures.
Expense reports are a necessary element of any organization, but many are created digitally, printed, and promptly filed away or even shredded. Switching to digital-only expense reporting can save your organization thousands of pages every month, while decreasing time-expenditure for persons reading and printing those files.
Utilize Managed Print Services
Managed print services primarily function to help organizations optimize print fleets and solutions and to reduce associated costs. Most MPS providers achieve this through a combination of ongoing needs assessment and technology, using modern technology to best-meet organizational needs while reducing total print volume. Some will combine this with employee education, software, cloud services, ongoing maintenance, and preventive maintenance. While MPS will increase monthly costs, it will also reduce total print costs which could pay off.
Print is an expensive part of operations but chances are, your organization can cut those costs. Hopefully these 10 tactics will help you make the right steps to do so.