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Opinion: Why printing less is more

Opinion: Why printing less is more

Audits can help understand print volumes and metrics

In a typical enterprise printing environment, industry experts estimate that for every dollar spent on hard costs, another $9 is spent managing the printed documents over their life cycles.(1) It is therefore not surprising that the printing vendors are moving into the managed print services market, with HP being the latest to set up a Managed Print Services group, offering cost saving guarantees.

While many device manufacturers preach the gospel of environmental and economic responsibility, the reality is that the majority of their profits come from selling toner rather than printers or copiers. For example, device manufacturers typically ship their equipment with density settings guaranteed to maximise toner usage, often much higher than required for high quality business documents.

In the current economic climate, companies are looking to reduce their IT costs, but printing is often not considered because companies don’t think it makes up a big enough proportion. At Upstream, our experience is that companies usually have no idea how much they spend on printing and when they find out, following an audit, the cost is much higher than they think.

The fact is, that in Australia, we really do love our paper. More than 90% of paper in Australia is not from recycled stock. With every 17 reams using one tree, companies have a responsibility to assess their printing costs and processes.

There are of course many things a company can do to reduce printing costs such as scanning documents to email, duplexing, electronic scanning and losing the snail mail but it’s the managed service that will provide the significant savings. Upstream has been providing Managed Print Services for over ten years and we work with all of our customers on a continual basis to review their printing costs and implement the best solution for them.

Currently, 90 per cent of companies in Australia don’t track their printing costs but audits can help to not only understand print volumes, but also metrics like the optimal ratio of devices to users, current total cost of output (including service and consumables) and more. They’ll also look to see what types of documents are being printed, their flow throughout the business and whether there are any problems or inefficiencies in that process.

In the past, much of the focus has been on ‘personal paper consumption’, the printing of emails or using the recycling bin in the office. The truth is that it’s the business processes in our organisations that use the paper, the invoicing system, the hard copies of contracts and other documents kept in overflowing filing cabinets. Reducing overall use of paper, toner, equipment and energy is the most powerful environmental and financial strategy you can choose – far more effective than recycling. Surprisingly, it’s actually the easiest as well.

Printing less is definitely more. It offers more for companies in terms of the financial and efficiency savings and much more in reducing our environmental impact.

(1) All Associates Research, EDAM White Paper, 2009.

Neil Tilley Neil Tilley is Executive Director at Upstream Print Solutions

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