A recent study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (cebr) suggests that UK businesses can save between £900 million and £2100 million annually by printing smarter. The report, commissioned by OKI Printing Solutions, found that the annual spend on printing was £20,100 million per year across the public and private sectors, with around 70% spent on in-house printing and the remaining 30% on outsourced printing. Up to £360 million could be saved by moving outsourced printing in-house, while the cebr estimates that between £500 million and £1,760 million could be saved by more efficient management of in-house printing.
In today’s business climate, the need to manage costs is increasingly important and many organisations have had to make some tough decisions to keep overheads down and carry on operating. However, few companies are even aware of how much they spend on printing and how much they could save by making a few changes. It’s not just about getting a good deal on hardware then shopping around for the cheapest toners; real savings can be achieved by taking control of the printing infrastructure, which means improving efficiency, reducing waste and streamlining processes. It also means identifying all the costs associated with printing so that they can be properly managed.
Moving printing in-house can have a significant impact on print costs and gives businesses total control over the print process. Company letterheads are an excellent example where cost savings can be made whilst reducing waste at the same time. Letterheads produced by an outsourced company need to be ordered in their thousands which means that up front costs are high and there is an ongoing need for storage and distribution. Furthermore, if there are any changes to the company details or logo, any unused letterheads will have been wasted. Letterheads and other frequently used documents or templates can be stored electronically and printed as and when needed, eliminating the waste caused when details change and reducing storage and distribution requirements. By printing the letterhead and text document at the same time, each piece of paper only goes through one print cycle, not two, which also saves energy.
Improving document handling and workflow brings further benefits; paper documents can be scanned and stored electronically where they can be accessed and used by anyone who needs them, rather than making multiple paper copies. With a well integrated printer network making full use of multifunction devices, it’s possible to exchange and manipulate documents electronically so it’s only necessary to print them when needed; for instance, to send to a customer.
Buying the right hardware in the first place then making sure it’s used correctly is key to managing print costs. By installing multifunction devices, the number of units within an organisation can be reduced, whilst improving workflow. The way devices are used can make a big difference, not just to print productivity, but to a company’s overall productivity. For example, the location of a printer can be extremely important; if a printer is too far away, staff will spend too much time walking to the machine to collect print jobs. As well as wasting time, this can lead to frustration for employees who face a long walk every time they print something. Some networks allow “follow-me” printing, which means that a user can collect a print job from whichever printer they happen to be nearest to at the time.
Making full use of a printer’s duplex option can increase efficiency and save money; printing on both sides of the paper not only reduces the amount of paper used but also saves energy.
It’s tempting these days to print everything in colour but intra-office documents can often be printed in mono. Black and white print jobs should be sent to a mono printer where it’s practical but it is possible with some colour printers to restrict colour usage. System administrators can specify which programmes can use colour how many colour pages each user can print. Even a small amount of colour on a page can dramatically increase printing costs so it’s worth looking closely at how you use colour and where it’s actually needed.
Spending a little bit more on buying the right printer, rather than buying whatever happens to be the cheapest can save hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds over the life of your printer. The rule of thumb is that the cheaper the printer, the more expensive it is to run and vice versa. Printware publishes running costs for all the laser printers on its website, so you can easily calculate how much a printer is likely to cost you over, say, three years. Running costs can vary considerably even between similarly priced printers, so it’s important to take note of the cost per page and factor this into your budgeting. If you buy the right printer it can work out cheaper than keeping the one you’ve got, even once the cost of the new hardware has been factored in.
Managed Print Services
It almost goes without saying that one of the easiest ways to take control of your printing costs is to consolidate your consumables ordering, servicing and support into a managed contract. The greatest barrier to reducing costs is knowing what they are in the first place and a managed print service allows you to pinpoint those costs and build them into your budgets for effective forward planning. There are a range of schemes available and they all work somewhat differently but, in essence, you pay a fixed monthly or quarterly sum based on the amount of printing you do. This sum covers the cost of all consumables and maintenance for the printers specified in the agreement. Any additional prints are then charged at a pre-agreed cost per page and billed in arrears. Although the mechanism of each scheme varies (for instance, HP’s Smart Printing Services is based on the amount of consumables used, not the number of pages printed), each one allows a far greater level of financial control than can be achieved by ordering on an ad-hoc basis.
Managed contracts simplify the ordering and invoicing process and free up company resources, thereby reducing the hidden costs of printing. HP’s new Quick Page scheme takes things a stage further by building the cost of the hardware into the monthly payment, reducing capital expenditure, improving cashflow and allowing greater flexibility when the time comes to upgrade.
The message is clear – there is a great deal that you can do to save money on your printing costs and even a few small tweaks to your print processes can bring huge benefits. Managed print services can offer a range of benefits to all but the smallest user and there are schemes available to suit virtually every printer fleet and business model. To find out how you can benefit from a managed service or to talk about other ways to reduce your print costs, give us a call today.
by Anthony Morgan