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Reducing your business’ printing costs

Reducing your business’ printing costs

June 25, 2009

Printing is estimated to account for between one and three percent of a business’ revenue. The potential savings in this area of your business should be seriously considered especially when the focus on business process and cost efficiency has gained added significance in the current economic climate. Business owners and managers are looking to cut costs and print savings can be simple with immediate results.

Companies need to find immediate-term solutions that have a measurable and significant impact on the bottom line this year, because next year may be too late. While decisions need to be made quickly, they also must be based on a solid strategy. The goal for businesses today is to stay competitive with fewer resources and costs, and ensure that the company is prepared for growth when the economy starts to pick up again.

The following business priorities ranked as the top three most important in a survey of SMEs conducted by AMI in December 2008:

  1. Local competition
  2. Growing revenue
  3. Improving employee productivity

The survey covered businesses in China, India, Korea and Australia with up to 200 employees.

Cost savings can come from many different parts of a business.  One of the most overlooked business functions is printing. At first glance, this is a minor expense for the average business but on closer inspection it’s clear that printing has the potential to deliver substantial cost savings, in excess of what one would expect.

Analyst group IDC conducted a study last year that showed that average annual hardcopy-related spending is about five percent of corporate revenue while Gartner estimates that organisations spend between one and three percent of their revenue on print. And yet how many companies are tracking and managing their printing costs today?

Business owners need to ask themselves the following questions:

  1. How do I get more efficiency out of my imaging and printing investments?
  2. How can I manage the behaviour of printing within my business?
  3. What strategic investments should I make in imaging and printing to drive longer-term growth when the market recovers?

Capital expenditure to operating expenditure
With many companies today looking to reduce their capital expenditure and move to an OPEX model, businesses are looking for utility-based contracts. In a printing environment, this is offered through Managed Print Services. HP has been rolling out Managed Print Services successfully to its customers over the last two-to-three years. In fact, according to Gartner, actively managing office printing can lead to a reduction of 10-to-30 percent in recurring spending on document output.

 SMEs can look into contractual engagements that are tailored to their end of the market. This engagement covers maintenance and consumables and will provide similar savings and can be obtained through a reseller partner. They should also consider taking advantage of software solutions bundled with the printer which help optimise their printing fleet and reduce waste. For example, some printers include software that allows remote management of devices and set defaults such as duplex printing. They also include software solutions that allow control over which employees can have access to colour, with the option to limit this access to the people within the business who really need it.

 It’s the simple things that count
It seems so simple but there are still so many companies out there that don‘t do the basics, like duplex (or double-sided) printing. Not only does this help the environment, studies by Gartner have shown that organisations can potentially reduce annual paper costs by at least 30 percent just by selecting duplex printing as the default setting across their output fleet. While a lot of the new printing devices out there offer a duplex printing feature option, companies can set up default duplex printing in their current office environment by obtaining a duplexer. Alternatively they can set up default duplex printing via their network using print management software solutions.

Through features that require user authentication, business can save at least 10 percent on printing by avoiding uncollected documents being printed. With pull printing, the printer stores the job and releases it only when the user approaches the printer with a magnetic card or user code. This technology can be retrofit into an existing printing fleet. The additional bonus with pull printing is that sensitive documents never get left on the printer to fall into the wrong hands. Gartner states that one in 10 documents sent to the printer are uncollected, which means that businesses can reduce ad hoc print costs by up to 10 percent.