There have been various predictions surrounding the introduction of the ‘paperless office’ for decades, but businesses remain heavily reliant on the use of documents. That means they need to print things, but printing can easily get out of control, leading to extra costs that can be hard to spot but which are a drain on resources.
Understanding the Problem
In the past printers in offices have tended to propagate organically, with machines supplied to meet specific needs. Over time this can lead to a mix of different equipment, and that in turn can create problems, as there is a need to source and stock a variety of consumables. It can also create issues surrounding support and maintenance.
Add in other print activities like copying, faxes and outsourced work to create brochures and so on, and it’s easy to see how printing costs can quickly get out of control. There are other issues too: uncontrolled printing and copying can lead to security and compliance problems. With GDPR on the horizon, companies need to look seriously at how their sensitive data is handled, and that includes who can print records and where.
Conducting an Audit
In order to get a good picture of the problem and begin to do something about it, it’s necessary to perform a print audit. Companies like Xeretec can do this using measurement tools to probe into what’s happening in your existing print environment and help make a strong business case for changes.
Before starting an audit it’s important to agree objectives. What is the study going to include? To be comprehensive, it needs to look not just a printing from computer systems but at copying, faxing and work that’s contracted out to third-party printers.
The audit itself will gather information from existing hardware. All printers have some sort of copy counter built into their system, and this can be interrogated to reveal how many pages are being generated. In the case of multi-function machines, it should also be able to tell you the split between colour and monochrome, prints and copies, and so on.
It needs to look into the cost of printing too. This includes how much you’re paying for consumables and maintenance, and even the cost of power used to run the machines. Any printing carried out externally needs to have its costs taken into account too. The sum total of all this can come as a surprise for many organisations.
Once you have completed an audit, you can begin to look at ways to bring your printing back under control. This may mean consolidating printing on to fewer machines and introducing systems that control who can copy and print documents. This helps with compliance but also brings costs under control and prevents abuse of facilities.
Whilst you may embark on a print audit with the intention of bringing costs under control, many businesses find that overhauling their print operations can lead to other benefits too. These include better security, greater reliability and freeing up of IT support staff to perform other tasks.