Even a moderately-sized business can expect to find the daily business of print cost management a major challenge in terms of cost control. These days a multitude of printer systems are available, often at very low purchase cost, and it takes little time for individuals and workgroups to acquire and operate their own print devices within departmental or workgroup budgets. Without an overall strategy for printer acquisition and maintenance, daily print costs can spiral out of control. How can these costs be reduced and managed effectively?
Print Auditing and Control Systems
The effective answer to the problem is to consider a software solution which enables an analysis and then a real-time controlling system. The two-pronged approach of analysis and implementation are discussed here.
On average, businesses can spend up to 12% of revenue on document production, management and distribution. Amazingly, this is the third largest expense, after office rental and personnel costs.
The first step to reduce printing costs is - naturally enough - to analyse the existing print volumes. But how to get an accurate picture of what your organsation's print volumes truly are? By installing an auditing and analysis system creates and environment where comprehensive reporting capabilities are easily achieved. Based on this knowledge, you are in pole position to optimise your printing network.
The fact is, that such an analysis is crucial. It is not enough simply to know how many sheets of paper you use each month and attempt to estimate the overall costs based on manufacturers figures. In fact, it is clearly a nightmare for growing businesses, to have any idea what is being printed and where, or who is printing and how much their overall printing costs are. This situation can be avoided if you have access to the right print analysis information.
Print analysis software enables a business get a grip on printing costs by answering the following questions:
- Which staff member is printing?
- What is being printed?
- Where are the print jobs going?
- Which printer in your organisation is used the most?
- How big is each job?
After the Analysis - The Implementation
After the analysis, installed print cost reduction software will allow proactive choices, for example to restrict colour usage by user, to enforce printing limits and redirect expensive print jobs to the most efficient printing device.
It is quite likely that most businesses are underestimating printing costs by more than half. Once the analysis phase it set up and running, then print cost reduction software can assist cost-saving changes in working methods.
Some Example Changes to Print Processes
For example, print jobs can be allocated to the print device within the company most appropriate for the job in hand. Thus for example, a workgroup might be printing thousands of pages monthly on an old, expensive printer, while an executive uses a top-of-the-line, efficient printer for just the occasional page. With print tracking analysis software, this situation can be identified and the jobs swapped accordingly.
Again, you can direct jobs to the new digital copier when printing large documents, rather than an older inkjet printer to reduce printing costs. Most print cost management software will either suggest or force users to print to more efficient printers based on the size of the print job. Additionally, you might want to disallow colour printing from specific individuals or disallow black and white printing to colour devices, and of course, configure individual printers to do only duplex (double-sided) output to save costs.
Reporting tools can show instantly where excessive use is being made of certain printers, in terms of paper and consumables. Identifying such overuse will mean immediate and effective action can be taken to prevent losses. Most reporting tools will also provide electronic records with the name of every document printed, who printed it, and when it was printed. Apart from anything else, this reduces paper use by showing that all printing is being monitored (after all, stacks of pages left on printers at the end of each day will inevitably disappear). Additionally of course, administrators can make much more informed decisions about the efficiencies of individual printers, and can make acquisition choices according for new equipment.
All these benefits mean a clear benefit in terms of the return on investment for the software itself, its configuration and maintenance.
Jimi St. Pierre writes for several Office Equipment suppliers in the UK, including office printer supplier Principal. Helpful advice on reducing printing costs can be found as part of Principal's comprehensive Print Supplies website at => http://www.principalcorp.co.uk/