Thinking about printing

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Thinking about printing
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Printing means more than just ink on paper. Find out how careful analysis can save you thousands of dollars.

The promise of the paperless office is nowhere in sight. Despite our efforts to create, store and manage electronic versions of our documents, paper still manages to find its way into many situations. It’s not without cause, of course, given that paper is one of the most versatile, easy-to-read, and effective communication medium. Furthermore, modern businesses still haven’t figured out a more effective way of signing documents than the humble signature, meaning even the most technologically capable organisations will likely need some form of printing.

Unlike other components in the office, however, few businesses rarely give their printing situation the consideration it deserves. Not only can the purchase price be high, but a poor match for your office can lead to an even higher total cost ownership – it could literally dwarf the initial purchase price. In addition, as printers are a shared, centralised resource, printer downtime can affect the entire company, dragging productivity to a standpoint.

When thinking about printing, it’s easy to browse through a manufacturer’s products, look over the specifications, and find the one that just looks like good value. That’s an easy trap to fall into, but it’s a trap nonetheless – start with your business needs first, find the specifications best suited to it, then find the best deal you can. It’s a process often overlooked, but it can save thousands of dollars in the long run.

To get you started, first think about how paper fits into your business. Will you need regularly printed reports? Do you require pamphlets sent out every month? Do you still work with faxes? Will you put a mandatory business moratorium on unnecessary email printing? There are many specific questions you could ask here, but the end result should give you some idea about the role paper will play in your business.

Once you’ve wrapped your head around this, it’s time to get to the details. Business printing is fixated on volume and cost, which translates into the printer’s total cost of ownership (TCO). The first detail is simply volume – now that you know what to print, you can make predict how much. If you think that each employee will print at least one email per day and one 30-page report per month, you have an average of 60 per month, per employee. Extrapolate that out to 20 employees over a year, and you’ll be printing 14,440 pages. To give you some idea how much a poor decision can cost you, think about the simple addition of a duplex unit to a printer. By printing on both sides of a page, you halve your paper costs while taking on a minimal hit to speed.

Keeping TCO in mind, you can now consider what needs to printed. Here, look at the amount of colour prints needed, the amount of colour coverage per page, and whether you need high quality prints. Some printers, for example, are better at high volume, while others are better at high quality. Also consider whether you need to print predominantly text or pictures.

Finally, think how often the printer will be used, and what other paper-based services will be required. It might make sense to buy a multifunction printer and photocopier, but you might find that employees are fighting over each function. What could have been a great cost saver could actually turn out to be a cumbersome bottleneck compared to two dedicated devices
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