Every organization wants to save money and reduce overhead. Most also want their employees to be happy and productive. But when asked about their biggest workplace frustrations, printing ranks near the top of the list for companies and users alike. Documents fail to print or arrive in the wrong format. Printers are unavailable. Or, in some cases, a print policy prevents jobs from being printed the way the user requested.

All of these are problematic, but this last situation lies at the intersection of your organizational goals and your users’ needs. Of course, you want to cut printing costs. But do you want to do it at the expense of your employees getting their work done?

Imagine this: a sales manager is preparing for an important meeting. He works long past regular hours to finish his presentation and supporting materials. The moment he hits print, a message appears, stating that he will need manager approval to print this job. 

It is nine in the evening and the meeting is at 8 am the following day. What is this worker to do? Call the manager, or go home without the proper handouts? His corporate printing policy caused him frustration because it was enforced in an inflexible manner.

Enforcement versus guidance

Many of the print management solutions allow you to enforce rules and restrict the use of certain features like color or finishing options. In some cases, users are unable to override these decisions. It is a sure way to cut costs, but is it a smart way of doing so? After all, you invested in advanced printing devices. Surely you want people to be able to use them. So how about encouraging sensible printing instead of enforcing harsh rules? 

All of us could use an occasional reminder to reduce wasteful behavior like hitting the print button and churning out an internal memo or email in full color and single sided form. Even you. Think back to the last time you printed an email and it spanned two pages. The second page you immediately threw out because it was only the signature line, perhaps followed by the ‘please consider the environment before printing this email (which coincidently also cost the company a color click). 

Where is the paperless office?

Digitalization has not had the expected impact on the office environment. We are nowhere close to having a paperless workplace. If anything, technology has had the opposite effect. People like to have things printed. They like scribbling notes next to text and keeping it for their records. Then there is the matter of archiving. Digital archives are certainly emerging, but keeping records of printed files is still normal and even required (by law) in some industries. Even if it’s not mandated, some people just like the fact that there is a paper trail stored away for when it might be needed in the future. 

This explains why we are still dealing with paper and printing, and why it is an area that should be managed in the most cost efficient matter. There are simple ways to instantly cut your print costs without frustrating employees like the sales manager from the previous example. Rules-based printing does not need to be so inflexible. It can be a way to promote sensible printing behavior without taking away user choice. Everyone can understand that an email does not need to be printed in color, but few people think to change the settings when they print. You can help your employees by establishing standard configurations for certain print queues that make it easier to print in a cost-effective manner than a wasteful one. To do so, you don’t need to force duplex or monochrome printing, just make it the default print method.

Balancing convenience and cost

Even if you have a variety of printers, you may notice that people tend to print on the nearest device. Why wouldn’t they, after all? Few users know the per-page print cost of each device, and it’s not reasonable to expect that level of understanding. But you can actually can help them with that.

What if you presented users with a cost preview for all nearby devices? Once they see the differences, they are more likely to choose the least expensive option. Rules based policy printing is precisely that: a way to avoid unnecessary printing costs while offering them the ability to use the options they need to stay productive.

Back to the sales manager. With a flexible print policy that lets him override default print settings without manager approval, this person would have finished his work without a single bit of frustration. He would hit print, change the settings as needed, and have great looking materials that would make an impact during the next day’s meeting.

Good corporate policy printing can make everything in your business look its best: your documents, your users, and even your bottom line. All it takes is a little software and a lot of common sense.