Print Management: Mapping Out A Fiscally-Focused, Effective Strategy

September 9, 2019 by Drew Smith

In virtually every workplace, printing remains a vital function of how business gets done. While advancements in technology have moved some paper-intensive workflows toward a more digitized process, printing in a modern office still warrants a plan.

Print management offers organizations a strategy on how to address their printing needs in a focused, efficient manner. This includes consideration of print volume, hardware, maintenance, consumables, security protocols, color usage, and how all these aspects tie in financially.

Alternatives to Print Management

So, if you don’t implement a print management plan, what other routes are available to your business? There are a few options, but each has its downfalls.

Store Bought Devices
By utilizing store-bought devices, organizations take on the full responsibility of the investment life cycle. This begins with the purchase of the new device from a store or online retailer, going well past the set up and into daily maintenance. This task is usually turned over to the IT department. If the store-bought printers are ink based, the yields per cartridge will be lower than toner-based models. This will result in the need to change them out every few hundred prints – even more often when dealing with color copies. Additionally, organizations often replace store bought printers if mechanical issues occur. The general instinct is not to repair, but to buy new altogether. This itself may lead to communication chaos. Through a constantly changing print fleet comes a variety of issues: Multiple print drivers to manage, unused supplies, hardware replacement costs and over-utilization of devices.

Commercial Printers
The use of commercial printers comes with a hefty price tag,but does afford you the convenience of not having to manage or purchase any hardware for your organization. Still, relying on commercial printing for your documents can raise problems if turnaround is urgent. Commercial printers or “print shops, have to be notified of a job, process the order, complete it and either deliver it or have it picked up. This process can take several hours or potentially days, based on the job size and scope.

Print Management Explored
Taking a deeper dive into print management reveals ways to make it work for your situation. There are several factors to keep in mind when considering your approach.

Customization is Key
The key to an effective print management plan is customization. Office communication and protocols are different for every organization, so it only makes sense to tailor to those unique qualities and requirements. For instance, the demands presented by a medical office workflow will be much different than that of a large church workflow. Each has their need for efficient office technology and should be conscious of their budgets as well as output quality. However, their demand for security and instant access probably differs.

Understanding Your Printing Costs
For any print management plan to prove successful, you must first understand the workplace’s printing infrastructure, usage habits and costs. A big part of this is done through an analysis that shows the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the existing fleet. The TCO takes into account the direct and indirect costs that exist in the organization. This includes maintenance, consumables, supplies, and device utilization. Breaking down the cost of each device gives you a true look at what you are spending and the volume demands that currently exist among the end users. A key component in determining the TCO is an on-site walkthrough that investigates the usage of each device and the end users’ workflows. This is documented and compared to data collected during a second walkthrough several weeks later. The span of time between walkthroughs is designed to give a snapshot and provide a solid sample size from which to base projections. As this step is, it will not tell the whole story. End users should always review the findings and see if there are trends that may be seasonal or uncommon. These additional observations should be noted and adjusted for the TCO report.

Establishing a Plan
Now that a TCO has been established and the anomalies have been pointed out, it is time to receive recommendations for how to best execute a print management plan. The plan can consist of a combination of office technologies, such as printers, scanners, copiers or any other devices that help control and execute printing strategies.

One thing to look at is the utilization of the devices with the volumes being printed. Included in these volumes are both black and white (B/W) prints and color prints. Crucial to the plan is deciding organizationally whom shall receive color printing access. Identifying this will allow you to create a plan with financial safeguards and ensure users can effectively execute their responsibilities.

Employee Level Plan Examples

Organization: 20 employees and has a 50 page per minute color copier in office workroom. Want to cut costly printing expenses while not interfering with mission critical processes.

Marketing Manager Sarah: Prints about 2,000 pages per month on printer in her office. Each month she prints 500 color flyers to be sent to customers. The 1500 black and white pages are mostly printed in 3-5-page increments throughout each day.

Recommendation: Sarah would receive a B/W toner-based printer above 25 pages per minute and would be instructed to send her monthly color flyers job to the shared color copier. Her previous printer would be removed.

CFO Tom: Prints about 1000 pages per month on printer in his office. For his weekly leadership meetings, he prints out spreadsheets in color detailing confidential financial information for the organization. Most of his other prints are B/W and he constantly has to scan signed documents throughout the day.

Recommendation: Tom will receive a toner-based multi-function printer (MFP) above 25 pages per minute and would be instructed to print to his MFP unless he needed to print a large job that did not reveal any confidential information, then he was instructed to send it to the shared copier. His ink jet printer would be removed.

Sales Person Jimmy: Prints about 100 pages per month on printer in his office. Most of his prints are proposals for customers though they are not considered confidential. He is only in the office a few hours a week to get paperwork in order.

Recommendation: Jimmy will be instructed to print to the shared color copier and his color ink jet printer will be removed.

As you can see in the above examples, details on each employee’s role and their related job functions were important factors. This info helped us determine how these employees should print their pages and what devices should be installed to help lower operational costs. The reduction of ink jet printers from all three offices allowed the organizations to move toward higher yield, toner-based printers. At the same time, they put a policy in place to leverage their copiers lower cost per page. In the example of Tom, he was constantly scanning documents throughout the day and needed more functionality. By placing an MFP right at his desk, it would greatly reduce the amount of time spent sending documents. It also ensures confidentially, as only Tom can access the documents printed in his office. The time freed up for this key employee is a value to the company greater than the dollars saved having him use the shared copier several times a day.

Executing the Plan
Without proper execution, a plan is merely a concept. Once the recommendations have been approved for placement, it is important to discuss a timetable for delivery and installation. The necessary time needed to implement the plan depends on the number of employees, number of offices, and each location’s office hours. It is also important to discuss with your IT staff all details regarding your network and connectivity to the devices. This will help ensure they can assist with technical issues that may arise, such as permissions passwords and IP addresses. Once the devices are installed, it is important to communicate to employees your expectations of how they should follow printing procedures.

Monitor Continuously
Now that you have a solid print management plan in place, it is vital that you continue to readdress your needs at least every six months. You’ll also want to do this as you hire new employees or downsize. Anticipate some modifications to the plan as your organization evolves and employee printing habits change. The key is to monitor regularly!

Put the PLUS to Work for You
At Copiers Plus, our Managed Print Services program is based entirely on your organization’s needs and allows your team to focus on what they do best; their jobs. Let us handle your print and communication demands, bringing valuable time and money back to your workforce and bottom line!