Although we’ve been repeatedly promised the paperless office for forty years or more, businesses are still heavily dependent on being able to print documents. Whether this is for internal use or to communicate with customers and suppliers, it’s a requirement which shows no signs of going away.
Yet if items are printed unnecessarily, it can lead to a good deal of waste and cost the business money, not to mention the effect on the environment. Despite this, many companies simply don’t know how much they’re spending on print services, so they could be throwing money away.
So why have a print audit carried out? It’s not unusual for even relatively small businesses to have several printers, plus a copier and a fax machine; that’s several machines all using paper, consumables and energy. Take into account the purchase cost of machines that may only be used occasionally and you can see there’s considerable potential for savings.
What Happens at a Print Audit?
A print audit is carried out using tools to measure what is being printed, how, where and by whom. Armed with this information, it’s then possible to calculate the total cost of ownership for your existing printing solutions. It can also identify spare capacity or machines that are being under-utilised.
Once you know how your existing printing is being done, you can look at how the process can be improved. In some instances, this may require only a small adjustment – evening out the workload to make better use of existing resources, for example. Carrying out an audit can provide the information needed to come up with a more intelligent solution to your printing needs.
Improving Print Strategy
Information is power, and if you know where your printing resources are going, you’ll be better able to manage and control how they’re used. In some cases, this may simply mean a better distribution of resources. In others, it may require a more radical solution, such as contracting out some larger-volume jobs – promotional material for trade shows, say.
Many companies now opt for a managed print solution where they rent rather than buy machines. This can lead to savings on running and maintenance costs by having a smaller number of high-capacity machines. It also helps with implementing a centralised strategy where machines are used for printing, copying, scanning and faxing, cutting down the number of individual devices required.
A managed solution also gives administrators more control, as all print requests are logged and reports can be produced showing where the workload is coming from. In environments where contractors and others have access the network, a centralised solution can be used to control access by permitting print access only with a password, PIN or physical token.
Printing and copying can be a major hidden cost for businesses and only by understanding where the money is being spent can you hope to bring the expenditure under control. A print audit is the first step toward making your business’s printing a positive benefit rather than a drain on resources.