10 Secrets for Reducing Printing Costs – and the One Secret That Beats Them All

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In today's competitive environment, controlling overheads is not just an option; it's a necessity. Among these, printing costs often go unchecked, silently draining resources that could be better allocated elsewhere. It's a common oversight, yet one with a substantial impact on your bottom line. What’s worse, a company’s print operation is often full of hidden expenses – from rogue spending for renewables at department level to under-reported purchases of printing devices – which can also create security threats if not properly supervised by IT.

As the largest brand-neutral managed print services provider in the nation, we’re asked this question all the time – “how do I reduce my printing costs?” This article offers several approaches for reducing your office's printing costs, including the pivotal role Managed Print Services (MPS) plays in achieving these efficiencies.

1. Digitize Print Workflows

Moving to digital document management systems can decrease print volumes by up to 30%. Start by identifying high-volume printing activities that can be transitioned to digital platforms. Using electronic forms and signatures can reduce paper usage, potentially saving thousands of dollars annually in paper and printing costs.

By digitizing print processes, businesses not only achieve immediate cost savings but also pave the way for a more efficient and environmentally friendly office landscape.

That said, print operations are likely to remain a significant part of your organization’s operation – so relying singly on digitization to lower these print costs is not enough.

2. Set Clear Print Policies

A well-articulated print policy is the cornerstone of cost-efficient printing practices. Define clear guidelines on what constitutes necessary printing and encourage double-sided printing to halve your paper usage. Policies should also cover the judicious use of color printing and mandate monochrome for most internal documents. Remember, awareness and adherence to these policies can lead to a tangible reduction in printing costs.

(NOTE: When setting such policies, be careful not to alienate your staff with draconian rules that affect productivity. See the cautionary note at the end of this article.)

3. Encourage Responsible Printing Practices

In the workday rush, focused on getting things done, it’s logical that your employees are more focused on meeting deadlines and meeting the needs of customers, patients or clients than on penny-pinching printing costs. This is valid and should be accounted for. That said, it takes a second to check if the printer is set to color or black-and-white. It takes just a moment to consider that the 150-page document could be just as effective in black-and-white as in color, and it would be even more effective to use both sides of the page.

Fostering a culture of mindful printing among employees can dramatically decrease unnecessary prints. Educate your team on the financial and environmental impact of excessive printing. Simple measures, like asking staff to review documents thoroughly before printing or to utilize digital proofs, can contribute significantly to reducing waste.

4. Adjust Printer Settings

Underutilized printer settings are a hidden gem in cost reduction. Setting your printers to default to duplex (double-sided) printing and grayscale output can significantly cut paper and ink costs. Furthermore, utilizing 'draft' mode for internal documents extends cartridge life, ensuring savings without compromising legibility.

Oftentimes, IT staff are not fully familiar with, or focused on, these settings. This is one reason why working with an external print operations consultant can pay off.

5. Optimize Your Printer Fleet

An audit of your printing fleet might reveal surprising redundancies. Consolidate your printing needs to fewer, devices. An audit will let you know whether high-volume printers or multi-function devices (MFDs, or MFPs) that serve as printers, scanners, and copiers are best suited for each department. This can reduce maintenance and supply costs and streamline your printing processes, making them more manageable and environmentally friendly.

 

6. Leverage Technology Innovations

Your outdated printers could be gluttons for electricity and toner. Invest in printers with energy-saving features and high-yield cartridges to get more out of your investments. Modern printers come with advanced settings that allow for efficient ink usage without sacrificing quality. Additionally, technologies like cloud printing enable precise control over what gets printed, further eliminating wasteful practices.

7. Implement Print Quotas And Tracking

Instituting print quotas can serve as an effective deterrent against excessive printing. By assigning specific print limits to departments or individuals, you encourage more thoughtful printing practices. Coupled with tracking, quotas provide insightful data on printing habits, allowing for targeted interventions where necessary. This approach not only curbs unnecessary printing but also fosters accountability among team members, driving down costs significantly.

Note: Be generous with these quotas. The idea is not to scrimp excessively, but to create a culture where thoughtful use of office resources is the norm.

8. Implement Print-Release Systems

Introduce print release systems where print jobs are held in a queue until the user physically releases them at the printer using a secure code or keycard. This eliminates abandoned print jobs, reduces paper waste from forgotten prints, and promotes more mindful printing habits among employees.

 

9. Conduct Regular Print Audits

Schedule periodic print audits to analyze printing patterns, identify areas of excessive printing, and pinpoint opportunities for optimization. Use the insights gained from these audits to refine print policies, adjust quotas, and implement targeted interventions for further cost reduction.

10. Schedule Regular Printer Maintenance

Preventative maintenance extends the life of your printing devices and ensures they operate at peak efficiency. Prints with streaks, faded colors or artifacts in the design slow down workflows and result in waste.

Regular checks can prevent ink wastage due to clogging and other common issues that lead to poor print quality and increased costs. Engaging in a routine maintenance schedule minimizes the likelihood of major breakdowns that can disrupt operations and lead to expensive repairs or replacements.

NOTE: Unmanaged printing environments often lead to poor printer maintenance. See our managed print section, below.

The Perpetual Pitfalls Of An Unmanaged Print Environment

While most organizations are fairly proactive about managing company computers, print devices are often purchased at department level without proper supervision from IT. This creates a substantial hidden cost, as well as a security threat. Often, individual locations purchase toner through the local office supplies store, missing out on bulk savings and creating unreported print spend. Underused and unused printers constitute another sunk cost. The result is that most business leaders have no real visibility as to their organization’s true printing costs.

When leadership focuses on tactical approaches to reducing printing costs (such as the 1-10 listed in this article) it can only be fragmentally successful. Some managers make matters worse by focusing excessively on employee printing behavior, demoralizing staff in the process.

The strategic solution to reducing print costs starts with a full assessment of your print environment – to be followed by a full integration of all printing devices through managed print. This brings visibility, predictability, and control, eliminating security blind spots in the process and resulting in significant savings in annual operational costs.

 

Managed Print Services: The True, Comprehensive Solution To Lowering Your Printing Costs

The tactical solutions we mention above have often been cited as good approached for reducing printing costs. In reality, they’re only partial fixes, often temporary, and in all likelyhood they won’t address the heart of the problem.

The sound approach to reducing costs in print operations is to implement a Managed Print Services (MPS) strategy. MPS goes beyond mere oversight of printing activities, to deliver a comprehensive optimization of your entire print environment. Here's how partnering with an MPS provider can transform your approach to managing printing costs:

  • Cost Transparency and Reduction: Perhaps the most compelling aspect of MPS is the visibility and control it offers over your printing costs. Through detailed tracking and reporting, MPS provides insights into your print spending, identifying opportunities for further savings. On average, businesses can expect up to a 30% reduction in their printing costs, making MPS an investment that pays dividends.

  • Proactive Maintenance and Supplies Management: With MPS, your devices are continuously monitored, ensuring they are always in optimal condition. Automatic toner replenishment and timely maintenance prevent downtimes and extend the life of your printers.

  • Sustainability: MPS aligns with environmental goals through efficient resource utilization and waste reduction. By optimizing print settings, enforcing responsible printing behaviors, and recycling cartridges, MPS providers help you achieve your sustainability targets.

  • Advanced Security Measures: MPS providers implement robust security protocols to protect sensitive information. With secure printing and user authentication, you safeguard against data breaches, adding an invaluable layer of security to your operations.

  • Customized Solutions: MPS providers conduct thorough assessments of your current print environment, identifying inefficiencies and customizing solutions that align with your business objectives. This tailored approach ensures you're not spending on unnecessary capabilities or underutilized devices.