How to Reduce Office Printing Costs
- Create a culture of printing-awareness to allow employees to make better printing decisions
- Monitor printing activity to identify areas of high-cost
- Migrate print to the cloud to reduce print server costs and the time to manage print drivers
- Implement secure pull printing to enhance security and reduce the amount of wasted print jobs
- Use a cloud-based print management solution to help your organization streamline the IT function and reduce the cost of infrastructure management
Printing is a hidden cost that many organizations find hard to quantify, which makes reducing them even more challenging. Beyond the price of physical materials such as equipment, paper and toner, there also are costs associated with IT’s time to conduct regular maintenance, departments “doing their own thing” and even potential cybersecurity risks posed by some printing environments.
At Pharos, we help companies develop strategies for a more efficient print environment with software solutions that consider the entire print ecosystem, delivering improved security and continual cost savings.
A simple review of the numbers demonstrates that effective print management can save an organization up to 40 percent and provide the following benefits:
- Significant reduction in total print volume
- Color printing reduction by 50 percent or more (color printing is at least 3 to 5 times more expensive than grayscale)
- 50 percent reduction of underutilized assets, driving down equipment lease, service and supply costs
- 30 percent reduction in toner and ink costs using centrally managed software
- 25-35 percent reduction in internal print shop and externally sourced printing costs across the entire supply chain
In this article, we’ll review common methods to reduce the overall cost of printing. Some steps can be done today, while others may take additional planning by your organization.
Keep these in mind as you navigate your office or work-from-home environment, and remember that every little bit of savings can add up to create a significant reduction in printing costs.
Printing Costs Overview
Nonessential and redundant printing produces a lot of waste. Correcting this is largely about deploying the right technology and changing employee habits.
Too often, there’s a cavalier attitude toward printers — a perception that office printing is free or close to it. Most employees see printing documents as a convenient activity that’s practically invisible to the organization; they don’t think about the costs and how they can ultimately affect the company’s bottom line.
Printing Costs Facts and Figures
- On average, office workers print about 7-8 times per day
- Color printing is 3-5 times more expensive than black-and-white; add in color graphics, and costs can climb as high as 60 cents per page
- It takes 13 ounces of water to make one sheet of paper
- Americans throw away enough office paper each year to build a 12-foot-high wall stretching from New York to San Francisco
- The average employee prints around 10,000 pages annually, equivalent to 1.3 trees
On campuses and in corporate offices all over the world, printing is habitual; it’s something that people do constantly, often without giving it much thought. Our print monitoring software demonstrates that on average, people print about 7-8 times per day. Changing these habits to become more mindful and secure is not an easy task.
Change brings many unknowns, and we tend not to like unknowns. These voids in our understanding of how things will be makes us want to hold onto the way things are. We become attached to what’s familiar; even if it’s not the best way or the best solution, it’s still familiar and we tend to cling to what’s comfortable and familiar. We resist change because change threatens our comfort, competence and confidence; something familiar to us is going away.
But change is not a singular event, it’s a process. It can be initiated with an event, but whether it’s a welcome change or one that is thrust upon us, it’s still a continual process in which we learn to let go of how things used to be while we grow our commitment to how we want things to be in the future.
As we dive into the technology and tactics around reducing printing costs, keep in mind a few critical truths of any print environment:
- Devices don’t print, people do. If you’re not managing people, you’re not managing print—and you’re leaving 50% of your potential savings on the table.
- People print for only two reasons – because they want to (~40%) or because they have to (~60%). Both can be reduced by half; convenience printing can be reduced more quickly than process-based workflows.
- Employees print in three places: the office, the internal print shop (if your organization has one), and with external print providers.
Read the following to gain a better understanding of how revisioning your company’s mindset around printing, as well as implementing technology, can help you significantly cut print costs.
Reducing Print Costs with Smart Printing Practices
- Print in black-and-white unless necessary
- Save to PDF instead of print, when applicable
- Print on both sides of the paper
- Use an ink-saving font style (Classic fonts to save ink like Times, Courier, and Garamond are typically good fonts for print)
- Proof-read before you print, and then proofread again
- Increase margins (when possible) to reduce total page count
- Scan-to-email (instead of copying a printed document) when possible
- Minimize or eliminate personal printers
- Double-check the device before resending your job to print
- Maximize your device-to-employee ratio to limit un-/under-used devices
- Print less often
Cost Reduction Steps You Can Take Today
Some changes to your printing environment will take time to plan and organize, but there are some tactics you can implement today.
Build Positive Awareness Around Printing Behavior
In the mobile-first, cloud-enabled world, the role of printing is changing dramatically. Gone are the days when hard copies were printed out and filed away simply for the purpose of keeping records. Today, most documents are created, shared, and stored digitally, and don’t require printing at all.
So, printing to paper in today’s workplace should be a mindful, intentional decision that is utilized for specific reasons. Unfortunately, too many people are still stuck in old modes of working and click the print button without really thinking about whether it’s necessary.
These impulse prints clog up the system, drive up costs, and are environmentally damaging as well. And it’s not only the excessive use of paper that is a problem. According to publishing industry expert David Brimble, fossil oil-based ink produces more pollution during manufacturing, can be toxic while being used, and emits climate-warming compounds.
Communication Tips That Can Help Reduce Print Costs
Spreading a culture of mindful printing starts with effective employee communication. Let’s take a look at some things to consider when creating your internal communications (e.g., posters, newsletters, memos, emails, etc.) to improve the culture of printing in your company.
RAISING AWARENESS IS CRUCIAL
Did you know that approximately 4 billion trees are cut down annually for global paper production? That’s a staggering number. Being intentional in the use of paper for printing can go a long way towards bringing that number down and reducing costs for your company.
The primary goal of your communications should be around raising awareness about the costs of printing—not just in terms of the dollar costs of ink and paper, but also in terms of the associated environmental costs. There will always be employees whose first instinct is to simply click the print button on a document, without consciously thinking about whether they need to. But that can change once they understand the far-reaching impact of mindless printing.
Ideas to increase awareness include:
- Placing posters near printers where employees pick up printed documents
- Including messages at the bottom of email signatures regarding the print policies
- Pinning related announcements or banners in digital communication tools employees use, such as the company’s intranet, Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc.
- Send regular emails comparing individual printing to average print volumes (e.g., “you printed 25% more than your peers in the last 30 days.”)
If your annual page output is as tall as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, showing that visually will immediately influence your employees’ printing habits. (Tip: 1,000 sheets of paper yields a pile that’s 11.8 centimeters or 4.65 inches high.)
HIGHLIGHT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COLOR AND BLACK-AND-WHITE PRINTING
Organizations need to impress on their employees that printing in color costs a lot more than printing in black and white – as much as ten times more depending on the settings and job type.
It will seem obvious once they know it, but chances are they have never really thought about it. Get the message across that black and white is just as functional, and that color only needs to be employed in specific situations, not as the default setting.
Here’s an idea—display a series of posters in the office that show the beauty of black-and-white images. What about showcasing the stunning photography of Ansel Adams that highlights just how effective black-and-white imagery can be? Or find some posters from gorgeous black-and-white classic Hollywood movies that show the mood and depth of black and white prints. How you communicate it is up to you—but if it’s done creatively and cleverly, then it will have the impact you are looking to achieve.
You can use color very effectively in your communications in a way that makes people understand how sparingly color should be used. For example, perhaps the only time your company needs to print in color is when you’re presenting to a client or when the color in a graph or image is necessary to underscore a particular point. But if you’re printing in color just so you can make a graphic element pop or add a “fun feel,” then it’s nothing more than an indulgence and there’s a good chance that black and white can do the job for you.
USE FUN FACTS TO BRING THE POINT HOME
People love to have a couple of facts up their sleeves that they can use to impress their friends about how much they know. Use that to your advantage. Help them with a few fun printing facts that they can memorize and ultimately share.
Here are a few examples:
- Did you know it takes 13 ounces of water to make one sheet of paper?
- Did you know that Americans throw away enough office paper each year to build a 12-foot-high wall stretching from New York to San Francisco?
- The average employee prints around 10,000 pages annually, equivalent to 1.3 trees.
These conversation starters are a handy way to nudge people in the right direction and make them see that they don’t need to print multiple copies of a document simply because that’s what they’ve always done in the past. At the same time, try not to overwhelm your communications with unnecessary data.
Keep it simple and minimal with one key idea highlighted.
Here’s a left-field idea: try running a contest in which the employee who reduces their print output the most over a set period of time gets rewarded. Share their updates and mark milestones along the way, and make sure the prize is worthwhile. It’s not that hard to help people make small differences in their behavior once they understand the why. The moment you disrupt the thought processes and patterns around printing, you can start to make a real difference.
SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO STATE THE OBVIOUS
Some things may seem obvious to you, but not everyone knows all of the tips and tricks about printing. Perhaps your employees have only ever clicked the printer icon in the browser and never investigated what options are available for printing. Spell this out in plain language that everyone can understand. You don’t have to be overly clever and witty with your communications, especially when a good old-fashioned “how-to” guide with clear, concise instructions on how to use available printing tools is all they need to get the message.
What kind of communications are necessary? Try a few of these:
- Let your staff know about the Print Preview function and how useful that is to limit excess printing.
- Show them how to reduce the font size on a document so they can fit more words onto a page.
These guides can be shared as quick-tip sheets or posters at strategic locations around the office or emailed to everyone.
BRING ATTENTION TO THE WORKING DOCUMENT BEFORE PRINTING
Start by sending out a checklist that reminds people of the value of proofreading documents before they print. Items in the checklist should ask things like:
- If they’ve run a spellchecker
- If they’re happy with the size of the font
- If they’ve deleted the extra spaces or gaps between paragraphs
- If they’ve chosen correctly between landscape and portrait
- If they’ve correctly formatted the size of the images
Too often someone will print a document out, then see the errors, fix them, print again, spot another error, fix, print, and on and on—it’s wasteful and inefficient. Frequent and well-thought-out communication about getting the document right before sending it to print can help minimize the amount of wasted paper. In the digital age, printing a hard copy only needs to occur when employees are sure they have gotten everything right.
A few additional, and valuable, print mindset changes can generate a greater impact on reducing the cost of printing:
- Print to PDF: Determine what jobs need not be printed at all—in these cases, print to PDF may be enough.
- Rethink printing documents from the web: Printing from the web is another area where companies find plenty of waste. Web pages are heavily laden with images, ads, menus, and footers—material that’s not needed in a print version. The best way to handle this is for web developers to create print-friendly versions of pages. When that’s not available, employees can print only certain pages, copy and paste important information, use a third-party web printing service, or choose not to print these documents.
- Always print two-sided: Reduce paper consumption by requiring double-sided printing (“duplex” printing).
Recognize and Understand the Common Voids
It’s important to recognize the common unknowns that people inevitably experience and communicate the benefits of any new system or process.
The typical voids that our customer’s employees experience include: Why do we need to change? Printing is only pennies per page, what impact can it really have? What’s in it for me? Am I being monitored by Big Brother? Are they taking away personal printers because they don’t trust me or value my role?
Change is personal, so be compassionate. When you move away from personal printers toward network pull print workflows and some employees seem upset by the change, understand that it’s not about their personal printer. It’s about their perception of the change and what it means to them personally. They might think that organizational leaders believe their roles don’t warrant the investment or privilege of personal printers. They may even incorrectly assume that management values technology over people.
Again, it’s critical to help people fill in these common voids by communicating clearly and regularly the benefits that the change represents—for each individual and for the entire organization—so that everyone can grow their commitment to the change. If people don’t have a positive perception of the change they are headed toward, there’s no commitment and you’re not likely to be successful.
A Point Worth Stressing
The first portion of this article focuses heavily on user behavior – and for good reason.
Devices don’t print, people do.
Infrastructure improvements can certainly be useful, but ultimately your company will need to embrace a new mindset around printing in order for your efforts to pay off.
One important note for managers of people: lead by example. When employees know that printing activity is tracked, they’re more inclined to think critically about their printing choices and thereby help the company become more ecologically and financially responsible. Banner Health, a nationally recognized Integrated Health Network, achieved this through its “Do Your Part, Print Smart” program, which keeps employees informed about printing initiatives, campaign goals, and expectations.
Another Cost Reduction Step You Can Take Today
In nearly every industry, from manufacturing and logistics, to golf and baseball, metrics and large data-sets are relied upon to better understand an environment and make proactive decisions based on the numbers.
Print monitoring software has become more prevalent across many business sectors in the last several years. The old adage rings true, especially in print: you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
A core part of our cloud print management platform is Pharos Insights, a print analytics tool that informs your company of key print metrics, both at a high level as well as with nuanced granularity.
Pharos Insights – Print Monitoring Software
By implementing print analytics, a company can gain a deeper understanding into the common printing behaviors and associated costs that might otherwise fly under the radar.
When the invisible becomes visible and they see how much printing is taking place — by whom, in which departments, using which applications — opportunities to reduce nonessential printing are revealed.
USING PRINTING ANALYTICS TO SET COMPANY BENCHMARKS
Focus on these four metrics to help you identify your true baseline and quantify the savings opportunity that lies ahead:
- The number of pages printed per user
- The number of pages printed per device
- The percentage of volume printed in color
- The percentage of volume printed on personal, locally attached devices
Of course, you need to know how many employees and devices you have (including all multi-function devices or MFDs, single-function printers, and locally attached personal printers). These are needed to perform a successful benchmarking exercise and establish a solid business case.
A printing analytics platform allows you to easily capture this information, and display it in an easy-to-manage dashboard that allows you to take action when combatting unnecessary printing costs.
UNDERSTANDING HOW OUTLIERS AFFECT THE WHOLE DATA POOL
An outlier is a data point that differs significantly from other observations. You’ve likely heard of the Pareto Principle (or the 80/20 Rule), and this is aptly applicable in the printing environment. It would not be uncommon if just 20% (or less) of your data points (people, departments, and/or behaviors) contributed to upwards of 80% of your printing costs.
With Pharos Insights, your organization can see who the top 25 printers are in the company, and what their printing habits entail. Powerful stuff.
You may expect an individual in the marketing department to produce many colored print jobs, but when you see a developer printing multi-page, colored recipe books on single-sided paper (true story), you’ll quickly identify the opportunity for cost-savings.
These reports allow you to quickly identify outliers – in the printing world, these are people, habits and processes that impact print-related costs that may be desirable to change. Common outliers identified by our software include:
- Top print-producing users, departments and locations
- High color users and applications
- Under-utilized and over-utilized devices
- Large print jobs
- Users who print email and web page documents
- Reports that show other discretionary-related print volume and costs
Example: Results from Measuring Print Costs
By leveraging reports, identifying volume outliers and implementing secure pull printing* technology, some organizations are able to reduce printing volume (and therefore costs) by more than 40 percent.
For example, at Banner Health, print management has done wonders for improving efficiency and increasing savings. Banner is an integrated health network that has 28 facilities and more than 47,000 employees. Needless to say, a lot of printing goes on there — but not as much as in the past.
After a process of gathering and analyzing the printing activities of employees, Banner implemented a simple education and policy program that led a majority of employees to change their printing habits to help achieve new goals. By the end of 2016, the company had saved more than $16 million on its printing while improving workflow efficiency and information security.
*We touch on secure pull printing below.
Common Modules in the Pharos Insights Dashboard
EMPLOYEE PRINT COSTS – SHOWS THE MONTHLY PRINT COST PER EMPLOYEE
You should try to reduce this value because doing so will reduce your organization’s operating cost. To learn why the average employee print cost is above your target value, you can click inside the Print User Cost card to open the explorer. There, you can drill down and identify the key contributors to this higher-than-expected cost. As you drill down into the data, keep the following questions in mind:
- Which regions or departments spent the most on printing?
- Which users are responsible for the most printing within the selected region or department?
- Is the user’s print cost justified? Print users in certain positions may be required to do more printing than others. For example, administrative staff are likely to print more than engineering staff.
COLOR VOLUME – SHOWS THE PERCENT OF MONTHLY VOLUME PRINTED IN COLOR
Color printing is typically 3-5 times more expensive than black & white printing. If your color volume is high, consider the following questions:
- Is this amount of color printing justified?
- Could some of these color documents be printed in black and white instead?
- Should we consider new policies to reduce the amount of color printing?
EMPLOYEE DEVICE RATIO – SHOWS THE NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES PER DEVICE (ALL DEVICES IN THE ORGANIZATION)
This tool can help you to unlock significant savings by ensuring that your organization has the right amount and type of printers. You can also identify areas in which to focus your efforts to reduce, consolidate, or replace printers. If your user to device ratio is below your target, ask yourself the following questions:
- Can we justify the number of print devices in our organization?
- Is it reasonable to ask certain users to walk a little further to reach a more cost-effective shared device?
- 8 to 12 users per device is a good standard. However, the amount of printing within your organization must also be taken into consideration. For example, a bank may have different printing needs than a software company.
LOCAL DEVICES RATIO – SHOWS THE NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES PER LOCAL DEVICE
Shared devices provide many advantages over locally attached devices. Local desktop printers are typically the most expensive devices. Many organizations are surprised to see how high this value is. Eliminating or significantly reducing the amount of local printers in favor of more cost-effective shared devices often provides a quick path toward reducing operational costs. If your environment has a high Local Devices Ratio, ask yourself the following:
- Are local devices justified?
- Is the amount of local device volume justified?
- Are employees aware of the high cost of desktop printing?
- Is the organization aware that a secure printing solution is a more effective way to ensure document security and confidentiality?
In most cases, employees think they need personal printers for security reasons; they may need to print documents containing sensitive information. This is the most expensive way to obtain document security. Secure pull printing enables you to take advantage of shared, efficient network devices. Employees use their ID card or AD credentials to authenticate at a printer to release their documents. This ensures that documents can be accessed only by their owners, and it allows the document owner to release their document at any device on the network.
SINGLE-SIDED VOLUME – SHOWS THE PERCENT OF MONTHLY VOLUME PRINTED SINGLE-SIDED
To reduce operating costs and waste, you can encourage duplex printing or make it the default policy. Doing so will significantly reduce the amount of paper your organization consumes. If the Single-sided Volume value reveals a lot of single-sided printing in your organization, consider the following questions:
- Is this amount of single-sided printing justified?
- Do employees have access to devices that support double-sided (duplex) printing?
- Is it time to make duplex printing the default option on departmental printers and copiers?
OUTLIERS – SHOWS THE TOP EMPLOYEES, DEPARTMENTS AND APPLICATIONS BY COST
The Outliers card gives you quick access to the top cost-producing users, departments, and applications over the last 30 days. Seeing these outliers at a glance can help you to quickly identify the most recent high-cost sources; these may be unnecessary costs that you can explore, turning data insight into an informed strategy to reduce print and save your organization money.
With Pharos Insights, you can explore data by region and specific departments, employee printing trends across the organization, printer utilization, applications used to print, job-level details about each printed document, and all the important cost data needed to drive meaningful change.
Use Pharos Insights to Understand Your Hardware and Print Infrastructure
In addition to the above metrics, print monitoring software can help you reduce costs by shedding light on critical hardware and infrastructure metrics.
Not only does having a pulse on these metrics help you reduce costs by managing small, but cumulative expenses like full-color printing, the cost savings extend to your team’s time, and the reduction in manual labor required to manage your print environment.
PRINTER STATUS – STAY INFORMED ABOUT THE STATUS OF DEVICE SUPPLIES AND SERVICE RELATED CONDITIONS.
Devices that are not working properly reduce convenience and drive up costs by forcing people to print to devices that are perhaps not as close to them and possibly cost more. So, it’s important to know when devices are down or in need of service. Print monitoring software makes it easy for you to take action and quickly resolve problems with your fleet. Know if a device requires service before users discover it and submit a ticket. You can easily look for device issues by floor, building, or campus, and then proactively manage that area.
METERS – SPEND LESS TIME RECORDING METER READS AND MORE TIME FOCUSING ON PREVENTATIVE ACTION.
You no longer need to walk to each device, gather data, and call it in. Instead, use the data and your newly acquired free time to perform preventative maintenance actions. For example, filter your view to see the effective age of your devices and get a life profile of your fleet. Quickly identify devices that have reached a high life count and might require replacement.
TONER – KEEP YOUR DEVICES RUNNING OPTIMALLY WITH MORE EFFICIENT INVENTORY REPLACEMENT.
Monitor all device toner levels at once and see exactly which colors are running low on specific devices. You can even filter your view to display only those devices with cartridges that have crossed a minimum threshold that you set. Then you can order toner so that it arrives just in time for replacement, and avoid having a storage room full of cartridges waiting to be used.
Setup Pharos Insights Quickly To Help Reduce Costs Immediately
With Pharos, you can get started quickly and (almost) immediately begin reaping the benefits of understanding your printing environment. Pharos Insights can be installed in less than one work day.
To start collecting data, you must first install a Print Scout. Once installed, the Print Scout collects comprehensive, detailed information about each print job, including who submitted it, when it was submitted, which print device was used, and so on. This information is sent to the Pharos Cloud server for real-time analysis and reporting capability.
As one IT Director said, “I learned more in 45 minutes with Pharos Insights than I did in six months of working with a print management consultant.”
Summary: Immediate Improvements
The above section outlined a few ways your organization can immediately reduce costs associated with office printing.
- Create a culture of print-awareness to reduce waste and optimize usage
- Install print monitoring software to gain a better understanding of what truly drives print costs
- Utilize technology to reduce reliance on your team’s time to conduct activities that can be automated.
Long-term Initiatives for Continued Cost Savings
The above recommendations can be implemented fairly quickly (if not immediately, if your organization is accustomed to managing change). The following recommendations require organizational-level planning, but can create drastic reduction in printing costs over an extended period of time.
Reconsider Your Printing Infrastructure
Traditional, on-premises print infrastructure has always been somewhat cumbersome and time-consuming to maintain, and recent technological developments have further underscored the need for a more convenient and reliable solution. Both digital transformation and the need for more secure platforms have driven companies to transition printing to the cloud.
Introducing Serverless Printing. Serverless printing is just that—printing that happens without traditional print servers, typically enabled by the cloud. Traditional on-premises print infrastructure relies on print servers to solve several problems in larger environments, including managing requests from many print users and the ongoing hassle of managing and updating print drivers on individual computers.
Print servers offer centralized print management and better control but are still inefficient and expensive to manage. Plus, print servers can pose a security risk.
Serverless printing provides a best-of-both-worlds solution, taking all the advantages of on-premises print servers to the next level while eliminating the disadvantages.
Ultimately, migrating your print infrastructure to the cloud enables your organization to considerably save on costs:
- Eliminate expensive infrastructure: Print servers also come with soft costs such as time spent managing hardware and software, electricity costs, data security costs, and physical storage costs.
- Eliminating vendor driver management: Managing print servers and print queues puts avoidable strain on IT personnel. Print driver management is one of the most onerous and time-consuming tasks for IT, and well-designed platforms make this unnecessary by eliminating vendor print driver management altogether.
Read More About Cloud Print Management Here
Well-designed cloud platforms not only eliminate print infrastructure, they’re also designed to be intuitive and easy-to-use—reducing the burden on your already strained IT staff.
Cloud-based platforms enable administrators to manage their entire print operations from a web browser to easily secure printers, create and manage print policies, monitor fleet status, and view comprehensive analytics.
Well-designed systems eliminate the time-consuming hassle of vendor driver management with a “universal” print driver. With only a single package that supports thousands of printer models across all manufacturers—from low-volume printers to high-volume, multifunction devices, these systems require only a fraction of the administrative overhead of traditional driver management, simplify printing for employees with a common user interface, and reduce troubleshooting vectors for Help Desk staff.
Rethinking your printing infrastructure is most likely a heavier lift than creating a print-aware mindset.
Many of the companies we work with place migrating print to the cloud under their whole cloud migration strategy.
We wrote a resource for helping you think through migrating print to the cloud and reaping the many cost saving benefits of this decision.
Print Infrastructure Savings Summary:
By rethinking your on-premises printing infrastructure, you may be able to eliminate costs associated with printing hardware, as well as free up employee time for more strategic, revenue generating initiatives.
Between the elimination of print servers (which can cost something like $4,500 per server), and removal of manual tasks, such as vendor driver management, we’ve seen companies cut 35% or more from their annual printing costs. These are savings that perpetuate year after year (or, you may be incurring yearly costs that are not necessary).
Setting Printing Policies Reduces Costs Across the Board
This effort partially involves employee printing awareness, but goes beyond a team memo or posters near the printers.
A cloud-based print management platform can help you reduce costs by providing you with technology that allows you to inform employees about printing costs , as well as restrict employees from printing in a manner that is known to be cost-ineffective.
Technology-based Employee Education and Printing Restrictions
One way to reduce costs is to use a print management solution that allows you to create simple pop-up messages that will appear on an employee workstation when a print job is submitted that does not comply with the rules you set.
You could create a rule that discourages the printing of PDFs, using a pop-up message that shows the cost of the job and reminds the employee that the format is intended as a digital alternative to printed documents. This message could give the employee an opportunity to cancel the job or continue with the print despite the information.
For instance, by implementing a warning trigger on print jobs over 50 pages, the organization can gently introduce pop-up notifications without inundating the workforce with several new policies all at once. By targeting only the largest print jobs, much can be gained on the edge cases alone.
In our experience, these large print jobs are cut in half when you apply such a warning trigger. When employees see the actual cost of the job they are submitting, they are far less likely to proceed with the print. Also, employees often realize that they don’t really need to print the job to read the content, and instead choose to keep the file in the digital realm or print only the pages they truly need.
The reality is that in most cases, employees are not even aware of the size of their print job until after it starts printing. Using automatic warning messages on print jobs that exceed certain thresholds makes it easy to save money and promote more mindful printing habits. Many of the customers we have worked with report an overall print cost reduction of 10% when employees cancel just half of their large print jobs.
In some cases, there are “known culprits” of inordinate printing costs. These types of jobs (such as one-sided, full-color PDF print outs) can be restricted outright so that any mistakes or dismissal of the educational prompts don’t end up creating undue expenses for your company.
Cost Savings from Secure Pull Printing
Two additional opportunities for cost savings that stem from implementing a cloud-based infrastructure: decreasing waste, and increasing security.
A significant amount of money is wasted in every organization by wasted print jobs. Whether those are mis-prints (i.e. I printed something with a typo, corrected it, and printed my document again), or forgotten prints (i.e. print jobs that are left in the tray and never retrieved), it’s not an uncommon occurrence when many sheets of paper to go directly from the print tray to the recycling bin.
By implementing secure pull printing, employees must authorize their print job at the device, ensuring that prints are neither left in the tray, or printed inadvertently by a busy or distracted user.
When we talk about a reduction of 35-40 percent in printing volume, much of that number is attributed to jobs that are stopped at the source by the need to authenticate before a job is released to print.
You’ve probably seen a wide range of statistics covering the true cost of a security breach at large and small organizations. Between the actual data lost, potential ransomware payments, and the reputation-damage an organization incurs after a breach, it’s no surprise that cyber security issues are incredibly expensive.
By implementing secure pull printing, you take a proactive approach to reducing costs by decreasing potential risks associated with your printing environment.
Decreasing User Error
One common, but generally unconsidered security risk can arise when all employees are able to print any document to any device. This creates a situation (especially in highly regulated industries such as healthcare or financial services) where documents containing sensitive information can be viewed or retrieved (usually accidentally, but not always) by employees who are not authorized to do so.
These compliance-breaches can be costly to an organization should they ever find themselves under the magnifying glass of a regulatory institution.
Printers as an Attack Vector
In another way, cloud-based print infrastructure can enhance your security posture and reduce the potential for printer-led cyber security breaches.
Print servers have proven vulnerable to attack and have become a major target for hackers to gain access to sensitive company resources. Recent breaches have made news, the infamous PrintNightmare being most prominent among them. Removing the need for a print server closes this security hole.
Well-designed cloud platforms are designed with a relentless focus on security and don’t rely on common attack vectors including print servers and insecure protocols (RAW and LPR printing), protect data with end-to-end encryption, improve document security with secure release workflows, and support zero trust security principles.
By setting your organization up for success, and taking proactive steps to prevent future breaches, you can situate yourselves in a manner that reduces the probability that you will incur costs (or reputational damage) as a result of a breach. With printers existing as a vulnerable attack vector, as well as an under-appreciated locus of security improvements, this is an area you should consider as part of your cloud migration and cost saving initiatives.
Increased Efficiency Leads to Decreased Expenses
Implementing a cloud-based printing environment not only reserves bandwidth for your IT team, it makes it easier (read: more cost-effective) for all employees across the organization.
The global pandemic changed the way people work. Migrating print to the cloud allows organizations to better support their increasingly mobile and remote workforce. A well-designed cloud platform will allow organizations to support remote employees with the ability to print—while providing visibility and control over their employee’s at-home printing—and support their hybrid workforce with the ability to submit print jobs from any network (even their mobile devices) and print them at any secured printer on the company network.
The alternative to this includes recurring Help Desk calls, frustrated employees, and a failure to efficiently operate. It’s difficult to quantify the true cost of these instances, but anyone who has managed teams, or a balance sheet, understands that underutilization of human capital is a cost that few businesses can afford.
Beyond the saving costs for your company, smart, efficient printing practices are also good for the environment. Less printing requires less paper, less energy, less water, and sends less waste to the garbage bin. It goes without saying that this aspect of a cloud-based printing solution has the longest-term, greatest savings potential for all organizations on the planet.
Reducing Printing Costs Conclusion
In this article, you have seen that there are ample opportunities within your printing environment to reduce costs significantly for your organization.
- Create a culture of printing-awareness to allow employees make better printing decisions
- Monitor printing activity to identify areas of high-cost
- Migrate print to the cloud to reduce print server costs and the time to manage print drivers
- Implement secure pull printing to enhance security and reduce the amount of wasted print jobs
- Use a cloud-based print management solution to help your organization streamline the IT function and reduce the cost of infrastructure management
It sounds cliche, but it truly takes the whole team to significantly reduce the cost of printing. Some solutions can be implemented today, like letting your team know how much printing can cost them, and some solutions need to be considered as part of a company-wide strategic initiative.
Pharos is here as a resource on your journey to a sustainable, cost-effective and user-friendly printing environment.