Most organizations run and utilize a great deal of office printers, sometimes printing in the tens of thousands of pages per day. But, the more your organization prints, the larger the resulting workload, not just on printers, but also on IT teams who maintain them.

Unfortunately, most organizations don’t have specialized print teams and couldn’t actually afford to do so. Instead, printer management, updates, and repair falls on IT, who direct attention away from core responsibilities like network architecture to handle incoming calls regarding malfunctioning printers, printer software, and even jammed printers.

While often-sustainable in some organizations, printers can greatly increase demand on IT, either necessitating a larger IT team or reducing time teams spend on value-added work.

Most organizations can take several steps to reduce these issues and to divert IT attention back where it belongs.

Include Printer Training in Onboarding

The vast majority of office employees don’t know how to use their printer software or printers efficiently or effectively. Misprints, printer issues, connection issues, and even finding printer software results in numerous calls to IT, often with issues that product knowledge could prevent.

Implementing printer training into onboarding programs ensures that every employee understands their printer and its software. This, in turn, allows the individual to find their software, make changes to print settings, more quickly resolve their own issues, replace paper, check for jams, understand printer codes, and otherwise navigate around their printer without contacting IT.

While this is more important in offices where individual or personal printers are a thing, ensuring people know how to use printers effectively is important in any office.

While training employees in printer use will reduce IT calls and load on IT, it will likely also reduce costs in other ways. Individuals who know how to set margins, print size, and print-types are less-likely to misprint, less likely to waste paper, and more likely to use cost-saving tactics such as double-sided printing.

Move to Shared Printers

Distributing individual printers is important in instances where users are printing private or sensitive data, but most people aren’t. Switching to shared printers, where one large-scale printer is shared by an entire office, will greatly reduce the number of calls and individual requests for assistance. Why? Simply reducing the volume of hardware reduces the likelihood of breakage or issues during daily use.

Larger, commercial machines are also less-likely to break down or suffer paper jams than smaller single-person use printers. Finally, IT staff will spend less time updating software, managing hardware, and restocking supplies (when this is their job).

Shared printers may also have disadvantages. For example, you may have some connection issues, you will have to integrate empty-tray policies, and you will have to train individuals to use new printers. However, they will reduce total demand on IT, reducing your total costs for the office.

Update Printers and Printer Software

Out-of-date printers and printer software can cause numerous issues across an office. Old printers are more likely to break down, jam, overuse ink, or otherwise suffer issues such as connectivity and compatibility problems.

Outdated software can pose numerous risks, including adding to cybersecurity threats, creating malware vulnerabilities, and increasing costs in terms of employee productivity and efficiency. It can also result in lost time and data, through compatibility and file-transfer issues.

Investing in new printers and printer software can be a big step, but it will likely reduce costs over time. In most cases, the easiest way to find out is to calculate your total cost of ownership for a printer (per year) and compare it to the cost of purchasing and ownership of a new model. If rates are even or close to even, it may be time to upgrade to a new printer. This is especially true if you’re upgrading numerous old personal printers to a single or a few large office printers.

Add Line-One Printer Support

Printers make up a significant portion of helpdesk and IT support calls. With some studies showing that switching to a third-party support line could save as much as 14% in helpdesk calls, this support is also expensive. Adding on a line-one support for printers will reduce the number of calls handled by IT, who are typically paid considerably more than a call-assistant.

Here, line-one support handles basic troubleshooting, known-issues, software issues, and walks individuals through using software. Unfortunately, most offices simply don’t have the demand to integrate a full-time solution.

A single individual often isn’t enough because people need time off, can’t work every day, and won’t be able to work across changing time-zones. If you have the demand to support full-time or several part-time employees, making the switch to internal first-line printer support is a good idea. If you don’t, it’s a good idea to consider outsourcing support, potentially to a managed print services provider, general phone-support organization, or an organization providing printer-repair.

Outsource Print Management

Outsourcing print management is one of the easiest steps to take to reduce demand on IT inside your organization. Here, a third-party organization steps in to manage all print services including hardware supply, network and server setup, software management and updates, printer helpdesk and support, printer repair, and re-supply.

This can result in both a reduction on internal demand for IT and an increase in quality of service. For example, your IT teams don’t specialize in printers, most will have had no training in printers, and their core job focus is likely on network architecture. You can’t install teams specializing in print because there isn’t enough demand and any team you do install would be bored.

Managed print services specialize in print services, giving them greater insight into issues, repairs, and potential areas of optimization.

Here, an MPS provider will step in, assess your needs, update printer software and hardware to optimize your fleet, offer employee training, and will take over management, updating, and resupply. The MPS handles helpdesk, repair, phone support, and updates, all of which can improve the speed and quality of results.

IT teams are most-valuable in terms of IT governance, architecture, and security. Reducing demand on teams frees up their time to focus on these core responsibilities, without necessitating expanding teams. This can increase efficiency of IT services, boosting the organization in other ways, while improving the efficiency and quality of print services.