Considerations for Optimizing Your Print Environment for Cost, Productivity

For most businesses, printing remains an essential part of getting work done. Perhaps one day the paperless office will arrive, but this is typically not happening today or tomorrow. People still sometimes prefer paper, or it may be the most cost-effective solution for some business processes.

But that doesn’t mean there is no opportunity for cost savings through changing print behavior. Organizations should consider ways they can save money by altering print habits, while weighing any productivity drawbacks resulting from these changes.

Below are a few items to consider.

Use higher-class printing devices when it makes sense

When used at the recommended level, higher-class print devices almost always provide a better overall cost of ownership than lower-class devices. In these cases, the actual purchase price of the machine may be high but the running costs are low.

Whether the print devices were purchased, leased, or part of an overall service plan that covers the cost of equipment, service and supplies, your dealer can help you analyze overall printing volume for your company or a particular department. They can then recommend the right class machine for your print volume to minimize your ongoing costs.

That said, you don’t necessarily want all workers to use one high class device—as this could hinder their productivity. The longer they have to walk to pick up a print job, the more likely they will become distracted and fall off task. Also, multiple print jobs waiting for pickup can create confusion and disorder. That said, there are advanced features that will only release a print when the worker arrives at the device.

Your technology dealer can help you place an appropriately high-class device close to the workers who most need to print in high volumes.

Use personal printing devices when it makes sense

The cost to acquire a personal printing device these days is dirt cheap. But the toner or ink cost per page is frequently expensive; sometimes it is several times time the cost of consumables for a department-class device.

In most cases, personal printers should not be found on the majority of desktops. People should mostly be sharing a higher-class device that is not too inconveniently located.

But there are circumstances when personal printing devices make sense. Remote workers very likely will need a personal printing device; a personal printer is also likely a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a mobility disability. Some workers with very low printing needs might benefit from a personal device, particularly when their prints contain sensitive information. Nevertheless, as mentioned earlier solutions exist to prevent higher-class shared devices from printing unless the user releases the job at the device.

According to a Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends survey, most IT decision makers (78%) and solutions providers (76%) do not believe that very important people should have a personal printer just because they are considered very important people.

Use two-sided printing (duplex mode) when it makes sense

Forced or default printing on both sides of the page is the most frequently cited action that companies report taking to save money on printing. About 30% of U.S. companies say this cost-saving initiative is in place. While this reduces paper costs, this is not the case for ink or toner. Most workgroup and higher-class devices support printing on both sides of the page. Many personal devices also feature two-sided printing, which saves roughly a penny per page.

But documents that are printed on both sides can often be confusing for people who are not used to handling them. And if they are scattered on a desk, they can be difficult to place back in order. In this case, employees are encouraged to make use of a stapler. Better yet, higher-class devices frequently come with built-in staplers. Whenever possible, forced two-sided printing should also have the staple feature enabled.

Many devices can be configured to default to two-sided printing. If you aren’t sure how to this (or don’t want to do it yourself), ask your IT reseller or office technology dealer for help. It’s very possible they can set this up for you remotely.

Use B&W, draft color, and best quality color when it makes sense

Traditionally, it has been more expensive to print a black and white page on a color device than on a black-only device. But that’s changing. It’s not uncommon these days for color devices to offer black and white printing costs that are on par with black-only devices. Your IT reseller or office technology dealer can tell you what your costs are for black and white. If it’s time to replace a device, make sure you choose a machine that offers on-par black and white printing costs.

Draft prints probably don’t need to be printed in best quality color mode. Most inkjet and laser devices today offer ink and toner saving modes for draft printing. It’s easy to ask your office workers to think about these things, but not so easy for them to remember to do it. And the settings are often different for different devices.

If you are engaged with an IT reseller or office technology dealer, they can let you know what it would take to set up rules-based printing in your organization. This will not only help your users apply the right settings for the job, but it will also route the job to the most appropriate device.

Talk to your reseller

Depending on the volume of printing in your business, it might be time to take a deeper look at what and how your company prints. Today’s office equipment dealers don’t just sell you machines and toner. They are now experts at looking at what you print, and suggesting where going digital may make sense. Then, in the areas where print remains, they can help you set up a managed print service (MPS) to reduce your costs.

Research by Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends shows that, on average, companies that fully engage in managed print services save roughly 40%. This results from a combination of reduced overall printing and changes (like those mentioned above) that cut the cost of printing.

3 takeaways

  • Use higher-class devices when printing high volumes of pages.
  • Use cost-saving settings such as two-sided printing and draft mode.
  • Bring in a professional who can optimize your print infrastructure without disrupting your business.