The Broadway tune “Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?” was a popular song during the Great Depression, which shouldn’t surprise anyone given the financial difficulties during that time. Today, a dime does not go very far, but the basic request to “find some money somewhere” plays like a broken record in many IT organizations.

Everyone seems to be getting squeezed in one way or another, trying to find ways to reduce cost so they can contribute more profit to the bottom line, help fund other critical business initiatives, or both. If this tune sounds familiar in your organization, read further to learn how a holistic approach to output management can yield substantial cost savings.

Check those couch cushions…

Let’s start with the different sources of print-related costs because these are the areas that must be eliminated or optimized to achieve meaningful savings. Consider the following cost problems and solutions to address them:

Cost Problem 1: Documents are never retrieved from the printer

We’ve all seen it before… users submit documents for printing, but never get around to picking them up at the device.

The documents just sit there until someone eventually throws them away. This is not only a possible security exposure, but a waste of paper, toner and electricity.

Savings Solution: Implement a pull printing solution like MFPsecure software that lets users submit documents for printing, but holds them until users authenticate at a device and select the desired documents for immediate printing. Any document that does not print within a specified period of time can be automatically purged from the system. This capability reduces cost by eliminating unclaimed documents and safeguards sensitive information during the printing process. It also increases the mobility and productivity of users by letting them print whenever and wherever they want.

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Cost Problem 2: Users frequently print in an inefficient manner

One-sided printing instead of two-sided. Color instead of monochrome. It all adds up. The fact is, most users do not know the cost of their printed documents, so they don’t think much about the options they select when printing.

And why should they feel accountable if they have never been educated about the problem? With someone else paying for the paper and toner, and no “printer police” around to enforce the rules, anything goes.

Savings Solution: Implement a rules-based printing solution like VPSX that enforces defined print policies to reduce costs and contribute to your corporate sustainability initiatives. Both the environment and the business will be better off in the end.

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Cost Problem 3: Users print documents that are not important or are non-business related

Yes, it does happen — probably more than you think. Some users love their paper, to the extent that they will even print their email instead of reading it from a screen.

People also take care of personal business while at work, and sometimes that involves printing. Have you ever noticed recipes, coupons, or other personal printouts in a nearby printer tray?

Savings Solution: Implement an audit solution like Innovate/Audit that tracks and reports print activity. This enables organizations to understand “who” prints “what” and “when,” so they can find savings opportunities and improve compliance with corporate policies regarding data use. Once users know that their print activity is being tracked, they tend to change their print behavior very quickly.

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Cost Problem 4: Organizations have many Windows print servers

And boy, are they expensive. Gartner estimates that the average annual cost of a Windows server (OS instance) in 2015 was $5,662.

Furthermore, in the case of a Windows print server, this estimate does not capture the added administrative costs of defining printers, deploying print drivers, etc., so the total cost is much higher. For large enterprises that have many locations around the world, it is not uncommon to have over a hundred Windows print servers to manage. Simple multiplication yields big cost numbers.

Savings Solution: Eliminate your Windows print servers and consolidate the workload to a highly-scalable output management solution like VPSX software. It supports a hybrid print architecture that allows both spool-based printing and Direct IP printing. Instead of managing many print servers, you only need a single server for centralized management and control.

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Cost Problem 5: Print-related problems generate lots of help-desk calls

It’s not just the number of calls, but how long it takes to close each support ticket. Both call volumes and mean time to resolution (MTTR) define the true workload for the support team.

There is also another metric to consider – the percentage of print-related problems that can be solved by level 1 without involving more expensive and valuable level 2 resources.

Savings Solution: Reduce help-desk calls and improve problem-resolution efficiencies using an output management solution. A recent IDC study* found that organizations that implemented the VPSX output management solution required 80% less staff time to support their users when print-related problems occur. IDC also found that level 1 staff can handle 57% more print-related tickets in their entirety, without involving any level 2 staff.

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Cost Problem 6: IT administrators spend too much time managing print infrastructure

“Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends…” The fact is, printers get added, deleted and moved on a regular basis, and they must be deployed to users and connected to applications.

There is no shortage of “knobs and levers” that must be controlled to manage a complex print infrastructure and keep everything running smoothly. More time spent administering your print environment equals greater cost.

Savings Solution: Reduce workload by automating and simplifying print management tasks using an output management solution like VPSX. According to this same IDC study, organizations spent 62% less time on print driver management and 60% less time on adding/removing printers from their networks. Overall, organizations reported needing 41% less staff time to manage their print environments.

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Add it up

Although some savings may be considered “soft dollars” versus the preferred category of “hard dollars,” they are still significant and very real. IT organizations are always buried with a long list of required projects, so being able to free up resources that can be applied to critical IT initiatives is a real financial benefit. Every CIO recognizes these benefits, even though the finance folks don’t always consider them in their analysis.

In summary, I share the view of many industry analysts that organizations can significantly reduce their print-related costs by leveraging the capabilities described above. My confidence is based on real-world experience, working closely with large enterprise organizations worldwide. My colleagues can help you understand the issues and the solutions and create a compelling business case. With a little number crunching, you might be surprised at the number of “dimes” you can spare for your business buddies. Give LRS a call. It costs nothing and can save you a lot.

* IDC published their findings in a white paper, Business Value of LRS EOM, sponsored by LRS, released in February of this year. You can download it from the LRS website here. Key highlights include a 492% five-year ROI, and $33,780 in annual business benefits per 100 printers managed by LRS software.