A recent IDC report shows worldwide page volume from digital hardcopy devices still runs into the trillions. The report also notes that mobile printing is gaining traction, with more than 50 percent of smartphone and tablet business users expected to use mobile printing in the office environment by 2015. Despite the notion of a “paperless office” being the target for so many years, companies of all sizes continue to face cost challenges associated with printing.

While companies take steps towards becoming paperless, there are technologies and methods that can be implemented to considerably lower the costs associated with printing today. To address the cost challenges associated with printing, the following ten steps should be taken by the enterprise:

  1.  Analyse costs

Only when a company has an overview of device utilisation, as well as user behaviour, can opportunities for saving be identified. Appropriate tracking tools or solutions with integrated tracking offer assistance in this area. With this, a company gains an overall understanding of print activities and the allocation of costs, which can serve as a basis for decisions on how to develop or change company print services. A company can then use the tracked data to prevent over-purchasing printer hardware and avoid buying unnecessary office supplies.

  1.  Implement cost-saving printer settings as default

Printing solutions that allow settings to be adjusted centrally by the IT department offer a noteworthy cost-savings advantage. As simple as it sounds, default settings for duplex printing or draft-quality printouts significantly reduce both paper and toner cost. In addition, default settings provide adequate printing results for the vast majority of day-to-day business activities.

  1.  Introduce pull printing

Pull printing, user-authenticated initiation of print jobs at the printer, not only increases security, but also considerably lowers the cost of printing. According to Gartner, 10 percent of paper consumption in companies can be saved through pull printing. An IDC whitepaper also concluded that the costs associated with toner and paper waste are significant, particularly if documents are printed out but never picked up.

Pull printing savings can also be generated for business units that previously required local printers, specifically for printing confidential and sensitive information, such as human resources or finance departments. For example, smartphones can be utilised for authentication at the printer, making further investments in additional printers unnecessary.

  1.  Reduce administration costs for printer driver management

Printer driver administration assumes a significant share of the costs related to printing. Centralising printer drivers on a central print server and the use of virtual printer drivers reduces the effort and costs involved to a minimum. In addition, the effort involved in migrating to a new operating system is minimised as existing printers can continue to be used.

  1.  Reduce help desk calls with a common print interface

The best print solution is one that the user does not notice they are using. A common print dialogue box offers the user a clear interface for all printers. This helps reduce helpdesk calls and requires no additional training for users.

  1.  Print data compression

Print data causes a large burden for networks. To support this burden, companies either have to pay for more bandwidth or use a solution that compresses print data so less bandwidth is used. By using less bandwidth, printing will have less of an impact on the overall network. This will not only save on bandwidth costs, but the more bandwidth that is available for other workflows, the better the user experience. This is especially true for branch or home office workers.

  1.  Reduce hardware costs

Companies looking to introduce a print solution should consider options where an entirely new printer fleet is not necessary, a solution that is not bound to specific hardware manufacturers or models.

  1.  Lower support costs and implementation of print servers

Introducing a print management system with printer status indicators that is independent of hardware manufactures is a wise investment. With printer status indicators, IT departments can act proactively, replacing toner before users can no longer print, which can lead to a loss of productivity. Some printer manufacturers offer software to centrally monitor printers and to change printer settings, however, these solutions are limited to just those devices of the specific manufacturer. To keep expenses as low as possible on print servers, the use of solutions with virtual printer drivers is recommended. This mitigates the need for costly storage space.

Introducing a print server makes sense from numbers as low as just 30 users. Additional benefits include: simplified management and maintenance of systems, printing process errors no longer directly affecting other applications, and terminal servers or host systems running more smoothly by outsourcing the printing processes.

  1.  Use digital printouts

In many cases, documents are only needed as digital printouts on a tablet or smartphone for reading, such as plane tickets, receipts and so on. Introducing the potential to digitally print documents not only reduces costs, but also has a positive impact on the environment by reducing waste.

  1.  Moving printing to the cloud

A less common way to reduce costs in the complex area of printing is full migration of printing services to the cloud. With moving printing to the cloud, a company only has to maintain its printers, leaving server issues, helpdesk calls and administration tasks to be handled by a third party.

While the allure of the “paperless” office is within our reach, we are by no means through with printing. Printing is and will remain a necessary cost of doing business. However, the burden of spending too much on printing does not need to continue. Today, enterprises have an arsenal of tools and solutions available to alleviate costs. These and future tools will continue to progress, providing enhanced productivity overall.