For many organizations, office printing is one of the top expense categories — yet many companies pay little, if any, attention to this ongoing expense. When asked, they usually underestimate how much they’re actually spending on print each year. We’ve found the annual cost of printing is typically about $1,000 per employee, after factoring in paper, toner, equipment repairs, and recycling. For companies in print-intensive sectors like finance and healthcare, this figure can be much higher.
For organizations that have yet to analyze and reduce these often unnecessary expenses, every day that goes by without a print Management Strategy represents more wasted money. Inaction has a cost.
Today, it’s easy for companies to get started. With cloud-based print management technology, organizations can quickly gain insights into how print happens across their workforce. By revealing all print devices deployed across an enterprise and tracking all the documents submitted to those devices, company leaders can easily identify cost outliers and take informed action to help reduce those costs.
After a lightweight, cloud-based technology is deployed, all you need is a web browser to access a graphical representation of your organization’s print environment. This reduces the burden on the organization, rendering a visit from an expert unnecessary; an IT manager can implement it and begin to see actionable data in less than an hour. Business managers can then access the data on demand, rather than wait until the end of the month to receive a report on last month’s printing.
Separate logins for various job roles and departments make it easy for multiple stakeholders to get involved, including business leaders. After all, strong leadership is often key to successful cost savings initiatives.
Key insights — including how much expensive color volume is produced versus much cheaper monochrome, which applications are producing the most print volume, and which devices employees are printing to — all come together in a simple dashboard that helps IT managers and business leaders quickly establish a baseline of how print happens over a period of time. From there, you can set educated goals for reducing waste and costs and improve efficiency by consolidating the number of printers in your fleet and arranging them in the way that best serves your people.
Here are three ways business leaders can use the insights from a cloud-based print management system to save money and streamline print operations:
As with any new initiative, it helps when company leaders openly sponsor a strategic print reduction program. This involves educating employees about the real costs of printing — in terms of dollars and sustainability metrics — and helping them establish more efficient and mindful printing habits.
Employees are usually eager to do the right thing, especially when they understand what’s really involved. An internal marketing campaign can show them how their printing habits affect the company and the environment and educate them on the benefits of the initiative.
It can help to think of print optimization in terms of supply and demand. The goal is to evaluate how much your organization currently prints and how much of that volume represents business-critical documents rather than mere convenience printing. cloud services can illuminate this and also help you see which printers across the enterprise see the most volume and which ones see the least.
Armed with this information, you can begin to educate employees about more efficient printing habits and then rethink the supply side: the number of devices and how they’re distributed across the organization. In other words, you can redesign your fleet so it optimally serves a reduced demand for printed documents. This is how to realize significant cost savings and waste reduction.
Another important factor in this is the overuse of personal desktop printers. Some companies fall into the habit of allowing personal desktop printers, often citing the need for document confidentiality. But the modern way to ensure document confidentiality is to deploy a secure pull printing solution on shared network devices. This technology requires employees to use their ID or access card to log in to a device before they can print. When people understand that printing is tracked and they have to be physically present at a shared printer to release and collect their documents, unnecessary printing volume inevitably goes down.
And the reality is that personal printers, while cheaper initially, end up costing companies a lot more in the long run. The ink is far more expensive and the desktop convenience of personal printers enables habitual convenience printing that’s not important for business.
In our experience, consolidating devices can reduce enterprise printing costs by 15-25 percent, and it also reduces energy usage, which leads to further cost savings.
Simply not printing is obviously the best way to save on paper and ink, but that’s not always realistic. Educate employees on the true cost of printing, and establish clear policies that encourage mindful printing habits and electronic workflows where possible.
The browser-based user interface of a cloud-based system makes it easy for various business unit leaders to view their own departments’ printing activity and track costs. They can then issue their own policies and set distinct, department-specific goals for reducing print to business-critical documents and going paperless when it’s practical to do so.
Because cloud services reduce tasks for IT resources, it can be hard to fully estimate the cost savings that such a solution provides. However, it’s certainly the fastest pathway to gaining the insights required to create an effective print strategy and achieve significant cost and waste reductions.
In our experience, organizations with 10,000 employees can save $1.5 million or more in annual printing costs by implementing a comprehensive print management strategy, and cloud services are often the best way to get started.
More and more business leaders are becoming aware of the value that a cloud-based print management system can provide. Look closely at your organization’s printing costs; the opportunity for you to make a significant difference will become clear.
By Dale McIntyre,
Dale serves as a vice president at Pharos Systems International, an enterprise print solutions provider based in Rochester, New York. Dale provides strategic leadership in the areas of sustainability, brand, and customer engagement. He regularly shares his unique sustainability perspective on print strategy through blogs, webinars, and appearances.