IT Challenge #5 - Cost efficient printing
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
by Lou Bartlett
Recently, I was asked to create a brief summary document for a 65-page IDC research study. Initially, I started copying and posting excerpts from the original PDF file, but soon realized that working from a printed version would be much easier. With a hardcopy document, one can quickly get an overall feel for the content, then mark-up and highlight the text in an instant. Ironically, the paper I was working on was called ‘The Way to the Paperless Office.’ The study indicated that paper documents will be here to stay for many years to come; even my own actions confirmed that printing makes it easier to do some jobs. But while I am usually conscientious about printing in monochrome and duplex, a print driver update must have altered my normal settings, and the 65-page study came out single-sided and in color. That one driver error made this print job unnecessarily expensive, especially considering it was going to end up in the recycle bin after I was done reading it. Not very cost efficient at all.
I then remembered a customer study at a financial institution with high print volumes. Color prints represented 20% of their total print volume, far above the industry average of 6-8% color. In addition, this company was only printing 30% of their printed pages in duplex mode – very cost inefficient. But this company is not alone; many organizations face the issue of unnecessary print cost, which is one of the most-overlooked sources of savings. For this reason, the topic of cost-efficient printing is high on my list of IT challenges worth examining.
In reality, it is a rather easy challenge to tackle with a print policy or a series of print rules that can either be recommended or enforced. This can greatly reduce print costs. In the above customer scenario, the organization increased duplex printing from 30% to 60% and reduced the color prints to 10%. As they were printing 230 billion pages annually, you can imagine the cost savings involved. Employees do not set out to create unnecessary expense for their employers. People often just hit print considering the cost of hardcopy documents (“It’s just a couple pages, no big deal”). For this reason, LRS offers policy print software that presents users a cost preview before print jobs are sent to a device. A pop-up screen shows the cost for the print on the selected device and offers cheaper alternatives. This is a way to increase awareness and encourage employees to choose the most cost efficient option.
Organizations that print the bulk of their documents from Microsoft applications (Mail, Word, Excel, PPT, etc.) and other desktop programs might decide that policy enforcement is the way to go. They can limit certain groups or departments to only print duplex and monochrome. At the same time, the system is flexible enough to let management, HR, sales and/or marketing teams override these settings to print simplex and color when required the job truly requires it.
Clearly, print policy enforcement can greatly reduce the overhead related to hardcopy documents. LRS Print and Output Management solutions offer the option of implementing a print policy as well as other cost-saving measures as LRS PageCenterX for online document distribution, viewing, auditing and storage.
In some cases, documents truly need to be printed for some short- or longer-term reason. When this is justified, it is important to ensure the most cost-efficient way for that output to come out of the printer. This is yet another IT challenge that can be addressed with LRS software solutions.