One look at the maze of printing devices in almost any business tells you just how far we are from realizing the promise of the paperless office. Out of necessity, convenience and personal preference, the majority of workers still use printers, copiers and fax machines.
This diverse collection of new and old, single- and multi-function machines some on a network, some not -- creates chaotic supply and maintenance management, adds expense, cramps efficiency and reduces productivity.
Managed print services can help small businesses control unpredictable and often excessive annual printing expenses, not only from the cost of printers, toner and paper, but also from additional hardware, maintenance services and power consumption.
We've found that managed print services can reduce printing costs by as much as 30 percent. They are customizable and provide a flexible, hassle-free way to procure printing hardware, supplies, service and support in one convenient, bundled contract.
Getting Started with Managed Print Services
Print management begins with an assessment of an organizations printing environment. The audit analyzes and documents usage patterns to understand where inefficiencies exist and improvements are possible.
Done properly, the audit details valuable information including the number and type of printers, locations, users, what services and supplies each printer requires and how efficiently each gets used in terms of print volumes, service and maintenance histories, and required ink types.
Managed print services provide estimates on the number of toner and ink cartridges, maintenance kits and other supplies required over the contract period, based on current and anticipated print volumes. These services can also help determine the right mix of printer types to meet the needs of a given small business.
Business Printer Consolidation is Critical
Consolidation isnt simply a matter of eliminating redundant and high-cost devices. For example in some settings, combining multiple devices into a single, multi-functional unit also benefits the bottom line by eliminating wasted paper and other supplies.
Consolidation can reduce printing power use by as much as 40 percent and increase security by making it more difficult to print, copy or fax potentially sensitive information. For businesses with multiple locations, consolidation lets you effectively manage high-cost printing, making the most efficient use of color printers even while reducing total printing volume to save on ink and paper.
Finally, optimization and consolidation will involve the IT staff (whether in-house or outsourced) more directly with the printing/imaging infrastructure, ensuring a higher level of control.
Out with the Old Business Printers, In with the New
Managed print services capitalize on the productivity and cost-reduction benefits of new printing technologies whenever appropriate, while conserving capital and managing operating costs. Budget constraints should not preclude all investments in new printing technology. New printers may reduce operating costs enough to pay for themselves very quickly and deliver significant savings for the long term.
Effective print management evaluates the following variables and then compares what's available in new equipment to the small business's existing printers:
Energy -- New printers often include warm-up features that are more energy efficient than older technologies.
Physical footprint -- Consolidating devices or deploying smaller devices can free up space for higher value uses.
Ink and toner -- New printers sometimes feature improved laser or inkjet technologies and quality adjustments that reduce average ink volumes per page. Many new cartridge designs hold much more ink, reducing frequency of replacement and associated management costs.
Paper and productivity -- Duplexing, the two-sided print feature available on many new printers, reduces paper use and costs. That also means less time spent refilling the paper tray.
Maintenance costs -- New printer designs tend to reduce service requirements, and new toner-based printers are easier to self-service. Most new products include a maintenance package in the base cost or offer it as an option.
Predictability -- Under a managed print services contract, forecasted volumes establish the price of supplies and service, which creates predictable costs. You pay only for what you need, usually with no minimums, escalators or page counts to manage. This decreased financial risk can be very attractive to small businesses that place a high priority on cash flow.
In almost any organization, the true cost of printing is hidden -- buried in departmental operating budgets or charge-backs and in unallocated labor. When a small business looks at the actual cost of this ubiquitous IT function, managed print services become a very attractive and cost-effective alternative to do-it-yourself print management.
Tim Rust is a services marketing manager at CDW.
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