In these times of increasing economic uncertainty and greater environmental awareness, businesses are constantly looking for ways to reduce costs and cut their carbon footprint. So, when it comes to printing technology, efficiency is often the top priority. IT departments are being asked to eliminate waste, safeguard the environment and find new ways to harness technology so that their organisations can do more with less.
Against this difficult backdrop, we’re going to look at 5 ways businesses can reduce their IT-related printing costs, saving money, boosting productivity, leveraging technology and limiting their impact on the environment:
1. Resist short-term thinking
According to Gartner, a research firm, Australia’s IT budgets will be largely flat this year. This puts the country behind the global trend when it comes to private sector technology investment. As a result, Garter estimates that up to 70% of chief information officers (CIOs) are losing ground when it comes to digital transformation. “The risk during these uncertain times with limited budgets is to make short-term investment decisions, which can slow or even reverse digital business transformation progress,” said Gartner analyst Brian Ferreira.
When it comes to printing, short-term thinking can be a real problem. We all know that a cheaper printer might cost less today, but that over its lifetime it will likely guzzle more ink and need more repair work than the higher-performance alternatives. Apply that logic across even a medium-sized business with multiple printers and the additional costs really add up.
It’s vital that your IT department thinks about the long-term cost / benefit analysis when it comes to investing in and managing your printer technology. Hardware investment can be amortised over its lifecycle, which makes running and maintaining it a much higher proportion of the actual cost.
2. Buy genuine print supplies
A common IT-related printing cost is hardware breakdown. As well as the cost of repairs or replacements, businesses also have to contend with the loss of productivity when equipment is out of action or not working at an optimal level. Buying cheap ink and toner can seem like good business sense, but like scrimping on your hardware investment, it is often a false economy. The medium and long-term costs will always outweigh the short-term savings.
Here are some examples:
- Genuine supplies ensure quality, making it much less likely that jobs will need to be redone due to common problems such as streaking or smudging
- If non-genuine supplies damage your printer you might invalidate your warranty, leaving you with an unexpected repair bill
- Cheaper supplies might not meet the same testing standards, which means you could experience lower page yield and other performance issues
As well as not actively going out to buy cheaper alternatives, IT departments also need to understand the risk of counterfeit printer supplies.
According to the Image Supplies Coalition (ISC), a trade association, the market for counterfeit printer ink and cartridges is now worth $3 billion worldwide. That means you have a good chance of running into counterfeit products while out looking for the best deal on the real thing. The ISC offers tips for IT departments to help them spot counterfeit products and manufacturers are investing in various anti-fraud measures, such as hologramatic stickers.
3. Invest in external printer fleet management
The IT department can be a busy place, with staff struggling to balance day-to-day requests with longer-term business improvement projects. As a result, some external help can make all the difference. Calling in outside expertise to optimise how you use your printer technology carries an upfront cost, but you can quickly claw that back in efficiency savings.
Your business could be wasting money, costing your staff time and burning through supplies because you have the wrong printers. Or the right printers in the wrong places. Outsourcing both the assessment and solution means your IT department get some much-needed assistance with a highly specialised task. This allows them to focus on their other priority projects.
Printer fleet management can also provide tools that the IT department can use to monitor and control printer activity on an ongoing basis. This is a good way to prevent staff in other departments using the printers in a way that wastes money or affects their performance – even if their intentions are good. It’s best if the IT department, as the people who know the technology, also set the policies and working practices that line up with your company’s goals.
For example, double-sided printing can be a great way to save paper. But the IT department can run the numbers and work out if using less paper is the top priority, from both a financial and environmental standpoint. And they can check it’s right for the hardware your business is using. In some cases, double-sided printing can have an adverse affect on printers. And printer ink is a much more significant cost for most businesses than paper.
4. Change the company font
This might be a little outside the remit of the IT department, but the company font could offer a real cost-saving opportunity.
In 2014, a high school student in the US discovered a big variation in printing costs between different fonts. Suvir Mirchandani, who was 14 at the time, found that Garamond used a lot less ink than other common font choices. Switching to Garamond from more ink-heavy fonts had the potential to cut his school district’s printing costs by up to 24%. To put that into perspective, the federal government in the US spends $1.8 billion per year on printing.
So if your organisation has a hefty bill for paper, ink and other printing supplies, it might be time to make the case for Garamond. This means the Harry Potter books were super-efficient and eco-friendly, as they were all printed in Garamond. All 77,00 words.
Using less paper and less ink is all in the IT department’s interests, as the savings free up budget for other projects and lower usage means fewer breakdowns and less maintenance.
5. Keep your printing secure
Security is the IT department’s biggest headache. Unauthorised access to your organisation’s network is a huge risk and one CIOs think about while lying awake in bed at night. For the rest of the business, measures to improve security can seem annoying or unnecessary. Much of the work the IT department does to secure your data goes unnoticed. But if you are the victim of a malicious hack or a virus the implications are huge.
According to the Australian government, cyber crime is responsible for up to $1 billion in direct costs alone. Then there is the damage to your reputation, loss of trust from customers and the risk that commercially sensitive information falls into the hands of your competitors.
Printers have been specifically targeted by hackers. Last year, there was a widely-reported case involving a well-known YouTube celebrity. As many as 50,000 printers around the world – including the receipt printer in a police station – started printing campaign ads for PewDiePie. The YouTuber was battling it out with a rival vlogger for title of most popular channel in the world. The high profile hack highlighted the risk that comes with more and more devices getting routinely connected to the internet. While the convenience factor is huge, so is the danger that weak or non-existent security will lead to something much more serious than printer spam.
As well as virtual risk, printing carries a real-world risk too. For example, what if you accidentally send a highly sensitive document to print on a printer on another floor of your office building?The risk of physical documents finding their way from printer out-trays and into the wrong hands is very real. IT departments can mitigate or eliminate this problem by introducing security measures, such as personal ID codes. That way, when you send your shopping list to the printer next to your manager’s desk, nobody will see it until you get there and enter your PIN.
To learn more about the topics and solutions discussed in this post, or for help finding ways to reduce your IT-related printing costs, get in touch with the team today.