Your Company Could Be Wasting Millions on Printing

By Dale McIntyre

Every large company competing in the global market today is doing what it can to drive growth, reduce costs, and improve information security and supply chain efficiency. However, there’s one frequently overlooked area that serves all of these goals when managed strategically: printing.

That’s right. All of these goals can be addressed by an old technology that we all still employ, but few company leaders ever think about. Printing is expensive, and it’s costing your organization a lot more than you would probably guess. Yet many companies may not even think to look at improving print operations because office printing is so commonly taken for granted. The reality is that an effective print management strategy can help your company make significant sustainability gains and save millions of dollars.

Complexity drives up costs

To understand why it makes sense to approach print management through the lens of sustainability, you first need to see what you’re paying for. If you perform an objective, vendor-neutral assessment of your current printing environment and supply chain, you may be surprised by what you’re spending and where that money is going. One example among many is an excessive variety of printers in the workplace, which can drive up management costs significantly.

By analyzing the number and variety of printers in your organization, you’ll likely identify many opportunities to reduce costs and improve efficiency. In our experience, companies can save 15 to 25 percent on their enterprise printing costs simply by consolidating devices, which also reduces total energy consumption.

In our work with large companies, my firm, Pharos Systems International, has seen fleets of more than 200 different printer models from several manufacturers. This common scenario is often due to a lack of coordination between departments or a policy of buying from whichever manufacturer offers the best deal at the time.

This situation alone dramatically increases the costs of supplies, support and inventory, as each make and model requires different toner/ink cartridges and replacement parts. Add to this the time spent dealing with all of this complexity — and we all know what time equates to: increased labor costs. A thorough, objective analysis can flag these problem areas (and many others).

21st-century print management

Chances are there’s at least one aspect of office printing that’s costing your company more than is necessary in terms of dollars and sustainability metrics. Print data collection can be done via the cloud. Once you’ve gathered all of the data, you can begin to put your data to good use by illuminating these problem areas. To create a sustainable print strategy for your organization, start with these steps:

1. Thoroughly examine your organization’s print workflows. When it comes to calculating print costs, your devices are only half the story.

A thorough assessment will help you determine how much your employees are printing versus what they actually need to print to satisfy business requirements and workflows. This discovery process is typically straightforward and highly effective. In our experience, we find that companies that don’t attack the demand side of print leave as much as 50 percent of their potential savings on the table.

2. Don’t focus on cost per page alone. Cost per page can be a valuable metric, but it’s less relevant when a company has excess printing capacity and low device utilization rates. At one of our customer sites, we found that 28 percent of printers had produced 200 pages or less within a 30-day period. Such low device-utilization rates equate to a higher total cost of ownership and an increased cost per page. To achieve optimal efficiency and cost savings, you need to have the right ratio of users to devices, high utilization rates of those devices, and a plan to reduce print volumes down to business-critical documents.

3. Go paperless whenever possible. Of course, we all know the best way to reduce waste and save money on printing: Don’t print. The most cost-effective, secure and sustainable document is the one that isn’t printed. Revisit your office workflows to determine where and when creating hard copy is actually necessary, and encourage employees to avoid printing just for the sake of convenience. When employees understand the real cost of printing and the role that reducing print has on your organization’s cost savings and sustainability goals, they will likely be eager to play a positive role in the initiative.

The bottom line

Print management isn’t a sexy or new concept, so it can be easy for company leaders to disregard it. But avoiding the issue could mean wasting as much time and money as you do paper. By taking a step back and completing a thorough analysis of your printing systems, you can cut these hidden costs and make significant progress toward your sustainability goals.

Image credit: Pixabay

Dale McIntyre 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.