Printing, photocopying and managing documents is a direct cost to your organisation, and an area where you can make significant savings, efficiency improvements and environmental gains. But despite their importance to information workflow and company performance, printers and copiers are rarely managed as a strategic asset. 

printer copier machineAt a time when costs are being scrutinised like never before, some organisations continue to squander resources around print management. According to Gartner, ‘Annual print spending accounts for 1 to 3% of an organisation’s annual revenue*. Focusing on identifiable costs such as equipment, paper and consumables can return considerable savings, but this approach misses the larger opportunity. To realise the true benefits you must be able to look beyond print devices alone. The challenge is to understand your workflow and to identify key enhancements that can provide measurable productivity and financial gains.

So, here are four steps that you can take today to start delivering an effective and profitable document strategy that will bring real benefits.

1.            Analyse for improvement

The first step is simply to pay attention to your whole environment. Many companies struggle to understand just how many printers reside in their business, how many pages are printed each month, or the cost of each sheet of paper that passes through their fleet. This is because many fleets have developed on a piecemeal basis, with different departments purchasing desktop printers with little regard for networking or standardisation. Audit your fleet with an assessment of your organisation’s print activities, identifying all devices by model, specification and location. More detailed audits can also quantify the volume and cost by each device. Don’t just focus on technology look at the bigger picture – output devices are just the end product of a larger process. The challenge is to understand your workflow and identify key enhancements that can provide measurable results.

2.            Optimise technology mix and location

Once you have this information, you can start to take advantage to optimise your technology. Consider a mix of functionality and performance. Organisations have traditionally relied upon a variety of printers and copiers, and their placement is driven largely by the demands of various departments. How about replacing desktop printers with shared multi-functional devices that can print, copy, scan and distribute documents. Balancing device deployment can improve performance, maximise return on investment and reduce total cost of ownership. Matching features to user needs is also important. The requirements of your printing and copying environment will change as your business evolves, so it makes sense to periodically evaluate the needs of each workgroup as well as key employees in key functions. Often, features that once seemed important are no longer needed. You may find that you are paying for features that you don’t use, or that employees are working around limitations that could be made more efficient with a few adjustments.

3.            Control and enforce strategy

On-going control and enforcement of your printer and copier strategy is essential to ensure that it continues to operate at peak performance and you achieve maximum return on your investment. Print management tools are available to centrally monitor and control usage, allowing for assets to be more efficient. You can place restrictions on printing rights to help manage printing costs, like removing the ability to print in colour without permission or restricting the number of copies that can be printed in a day. Secure print systems can also allow users to print to any printer within the company. This increases security and reduces waste as documents are only printed when authorised there and then by the user. Through regular maintenance and monitoring, you can ensure printers are functional and effective at all times, reducing the chances of downtime and preventing future problems. It will also enable you to gain control of ordering associated consumables such as paper and toner.

4.            Master document management

Document management is not just for large companies, organisations of all sizes can benefit. By improving your business processes within all four phases of the document lifecycle – Capture, Manage, Store and Output – you will be able to realise the benefits of lower costs, enhanced productivity and better control. This may be as simple as a multi-functional device that provides scanning capabilities for a small company or as complex as an enterprise-wide automated workflow. By moving to a more widespread use of electronic media, you will be able to secure your company’s documents, increase office floor space and improve communication through shared files. Document management will help reduce the total cost of ownership for your fleet, as well as reduce energy consumption and environmental impact through consolidation and optimisation. Finally, by taking a more long-term approach to your fleet you will also start to develop stronger and more strategic relationships with vendors, suppliers and service providers.

*”Printer and Copier Fleets: The Goldmine in the Hallway,” Gartner Group