If you leave your office’s printing to take care of itself, it will perform poorly; costs will trickle through unnoticed until they gradually drain your cash flow. By designing an optimum print policy, which outlines necessary processes and behaviour, staff will know exactly what is expected of them and you can get a better control on your costs:
This will provide an analysis and overview of your department/branch print requirements, detailing which departments will require high or low volume output, colour or black and white, scanning, fax or copying facilities.
Does each work team require a separate printer? Should procurement purchase multifunction devices (MFDs) or separate print, copy, scan and fax facilities? Should departments purchase mono or colour devices?
A clearly defined strategy will ensure you do not overspend on unnecessary resources; assess how many staff members require access to print, copy, fax and scan facilities and ensure that your fleet is neither under or over utilised.
A strategy should also be in place to deal with business growth, detailing how you will cope with growing teams and which machines will be upgraded, phased out or transferred to alternative locations.
One of the important decisions is whether to purchase or lease your print devices, as each strategy has its pros and cons. Buying your printers will involve a heavier initial cost outlay and is riskier if technology is changing rapidly. Leasing means you will never own your fleet but can upgrade when necessary.
How should procurement personnel deal with supply contracts and terms of renewal? Which manufacturers do you prefer? Will you procure all devices from the same manufacturer or do you require a range of specialist devices? Will you buy direct or through an intermediary?
How will you handle requests for new devices? Will it require a full business case to be submitted?
Configuration and Printing Standards
This should outline how your devices should be configured to provide the most effective output. To maximise paper usage, ensure that all devices use duplex printing, defaulting to double-sided printing.
Most devices should also default to black and white, although departments such as sales and marketing may require higher levels of colour printing.
Using power saving auto shut off mode saves energy and will improve your environmental standing.
Tray configuration denotes exactly how each tray will be set up; for example, will trays be loaded with headed paper, plain paper or labels? Pull printing function will provide staff with flexibility to pick up their print job from any device regardless of their location.
You can also programme your printer so that only specific users have the ability to print in higher cost output modes.
There are hundreds of different configurations available for each device, so read the instruction books and familiarise yourself with their nuances, choosing the optimal configuration for your business.
Printing standards should highlight the required behaviour expected from staff in relation to their printing. For example, when is it appropriate for staff to use colour toner? For everyday use or only external sales documents and marketing material?
Cost allocation is a crucial area of printing, especially for larger business, and your print policy should stipulate exactly how costs will be allocated across the business. Will costs be absorbed at branch level or by individual team? Who will be responsible for overspend?
Recommend that documents printed using Microsoft Word or PowerPoint use white backgrounds in order to save toner; larger documents should also print to MFDs, rather than printers, as they have lower average costs.
What is your digital technology strategy? Will you utilise Electronic Document Management software to store documents or use paper and filing cabinets? Are meetings to be supplemented with hand-outs or should the audience use digital copies?
Most businesses will house sensitive information which requires an element of confidentiality. You may need to configure your printers to ensure that information does not fall into the wrong hands.
Will you use a swipe card or code system to authorise print pick up? What happens if a print job jams half way through, but later prints out, giving access to a third party? Outline the process involved for printing confidential information and make staff aware of their responsibilities.
Who is charge of maintaining your machines? Will you employ an internal member of staff, an IT Support function or an external Managed Print Service provider? Will individual departments refill their machines with paper and change toner? How will you make sure that machines stay online? Is there a warning system in place for when toner runs low?
Designing a print policy is easy, but takes some careful planning and thought; if you don’t have one in place already then now could be the time to start.
About the Author
Steve Pond is Divisional Manager of First Choice Ltd. With over 15 years’ client service experience, Steve understands how businesses can leverage print technology to improve their environmental impacts.