How much does your business spend on printing? If you can’t answer that question, don’t worry – you’re not the only one. Printing and copying are things that tend to grow organically, such that they only get noticed by management when there’s a problem or when costs spiral out of control.
In order to take back control, the first thing you need to do is understand the problem. That means measuring what’s going on, and the best way to do that is to conduct a print audit.
A print audit is all about determining how printing resources within the business are distributed and accessed and what the associated costs are. In doing this, it’s important to view the big picture. You need to take account not just of day-to-day desktop printing but also of other activities such as photocopying and faxing. You also need to factor in printing jobs that are contracted out to third-parties, such as printing brochures and sales material, for example.
If you employ a specialist company to conduct a print audit, the first step is to collect usage information from your existing printing systems. There’s always a copy counter built into the hardware of printers which can be interrogated using special software to find out how many pages are being produced. With devices that incorporate other functions such as faxing, copying and scanning, this information should also be able to tell you how many of the pages produced fall into each category as well as identify the proportion of monochrome versus colour output.
That tells you how much you’re printing, but to do the job properly you also need to know where the jobs are coming from. In most businesses there will be networked printers that are accessible to anyone in the office, but also often machines are attached to individual desktop PCs or in particular departments.
The next stage is to work out how much all of this activity is costing. You need to take account of the capital cost of buying the equipment in the first place as well as what you’re spending on consumables like ink and toner, how much power is being used and any spend on maintenance contracts. You need to look at how much you spend on external printing services too so that you get the total picture.
Once you have an audit report on your print activity, what’s the next step? If you’ve been shocked by the cost or just the disorganised nature of what’s going on, you may decide to move to managed print services from Xeretec so that all of your printing needs come under one umbrella.
You also have the opportunity to decide how best to restructure your printing to meet your business needs. You may have found that printers are located in the wrong place based on the amount of work being done, for example.
You also have the opportunity to review who is allowed to create prints. With GDPR on the horizon, it’s an opportunity to consider when and where sensitive information is printed and ensure that you comply fully with data protection rules.
Whatever your initial motivation for reviewing your printing requirements, carrying out a print audit is an opportunity both to take control of costs and improve the efficiency of your operation.