How to Start a Printer Consolidation Plan
If you are a small or medium business owner, learning how to save money in turbulent business times is critical. One way to do so is to look for methods of printer consolidation. Not only is printer consolidation generally overlooked as a way to cut business costs, but you can generally save around 65% of total printing costs just by consolidating. Many organizations have no idea how much money is being wasted by not consolidating its printing operations. In addition to decreasing hardware, paper, ink, toner, and maintenance costs, you’ll also see a big slash in your electricity bill.
To consolidate, we can follow four basic steps. These are:
- Eliminating high-cost inkjet desktop printers.
- Getting rid of inefficient or underused printers.
- Sharing work-group printers between end-users within the business.
- Replacing printers, scanners, fax machines, and copiers with multi-purpose machines.
By implementing this consolidation plan, we can generally save a great deal as small or medium business owners.By consolidating, a small business can save about $500 annually or even more. But even though this is a highly effective strategy, most organizations have no way of aggregating their total printing costs because no one individual is responsible for managing their printer sharing program. With no visibility, getting up the necessary executive sport for consolidation is nearly impossible. Printer costs are budgeted and tracked by each separate department, but instead they should be aggregated into their own budget category. IT doesn't manage printing costs -- they only manage the hardware itself. Companies who fail to recognize the need for a printer consolidation initiative will be leaving a great deal of money on the table.
Barriers to Consolidation
There are 4 main barriers to printer consolidation.
- Executives. Top-level management often wonders if consolidation is effective because they don't understand the real savings potential. There is no clear representation of end-user backlash and no general explanation of how they're going to save money in the long run.
- Accountability. Cost-tracking responsibility is generally not assigned properly in a business. So printing costs will skyrocket and the organization has no idea because no one is accountable for printer costs.
- Opacity of printing. How can an organization track cost-savings potential of printer consolidation? How do they track current printer spending? There is no clear way to keep up to date on how the company is spending money on printing, which is a major problem.
- End-user needs. Unfortunately, end-users generally don't act as a key representative of implementing printer consolidation. This means that the people doing the printing -- employees and management -- have no way of seeing the benefits of printer consolidation, so they don't want to implement it.
Without any type of management, printing costs can become out of control. The organization does not realize how much potential there is to save money. Since IT doesn't have much reason to push consolidation efforts forward, and your executives aren't interested in doing so, either, there is no clear way to get the initiative off the ground.
However, it is possible to implement successful printer consolidation. First, we need to assign accountability for tracking printer costs to just one department. This way, costs can easily be accounted for and one department is responsible for doing so. Secondly, we need to manage inventory of printing devices carefully, keeping track of usage throughout the company, requirements for printing, and how much printing costs annually. Thirdly, we need to identity critical areas where we can eliminate or get rid of some devices that aren't being used effectively or simply use too many resources, like ink-sucking desktop printers. Fourthly, we need to educate executives on the importance of printer consolidation, communicating clearly just how much benefit there will be for the company in the long run. Finally, we need to plan for end-user resistance and look for counterarguments. For example, saving office space, only needing to operate one machine, working with just one company for service, and using multifunction machines to perform many tasks at the same time. Additionally, many machines are now cloud-based, so their usage can be tracked using basic software for management of printer resources.
Avoiding Wasted Printer Resources
Next, we'll need to convince users that printing in color or just on one side of the paper is usually unnecessary. But users are trained in bad habits, so it's hard to change easily. Unfortunately, a lot of printer resources are wasted on desktop printers, and their costs are 4 times higher than multipurpose devices that use laser ink. Desktop printers also put more demand on the hardware because they have a shorter life cycle. Multiple printer models put greater demands on consumables and don't implement the cost-effective method of consolidation. If we reduce the amount of desktop printers in the organization, we'll proportionally reduce power consumption and overall printing costs.
Another benefit of consolidation is to the environment. Eliminating desktop printers enables the company to emit less carbon dioxide and use less power. There is less need for the same amount of paper, ink, and toner going into desktop printers. By going green, companies provide service to the community and the environment, helping the business to achieve positive social and environmental change.
Networking and Centralization
One last key of printer consolidation is networking and centralization. The supply of equipment and consumables is about 5-10% of the cost of owning a printer. Every day usage of printers, power cable, ink, toner, and paper, along with maintenance and repairs, represents the rest of the cost. By reducing the huge number of printers, we reduce the overall consumption of resources. Consolidating to as few models as possible by choosing multi function printers is key. Since printers are now network-friendly, it's easy to get them all onto one workgroup where employees can easily send print jobs.
Ultimately, companies that fail to implement a good printer consolidation plan are leaving money on the table -- which is never a good business strategy. Instead of wasting valuable printer resources, employ print management software that is proportionate to your business' size and the needs of its end-users for printing. By doing so, you'll achieve ongoing cost savings, help the environment, and have a healthier, more thriving business on the whole.
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