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Strategic deployment of print and document services can boost operational efficiencies and workplace productivity, says Nigel Allen.


03 June 2019 | Nigel Allen

1. Analyse: Audit your current print environment

Undertake an audit to look at the state of your existing processes and systems such as print volumes, workflows, devices that are under or over-performing, machine reliability and so on. 

It is also important to identify what is measurable: if you cannot measure it, you won’t manage it.

2. Design: Document your desired state

Involve key stakeholders in deciding what ‘good looks like’ – your desired state. This should stem from your business requirements and may include targets for print efficiency, whether your priority is to reduce costs, speed up processes, reduce downtime or the maintenance burden on your facilities and IT teams, or any other key performance indicators relevant to your business.

3. Implement: Think about what you want from a managed print service (MPS) provider

As well as managing the day-to-day running of your print infrastructure, your MPS provider should be able to add value to your print environment. For example, analytics reporting can give you a detailed dashboard with a real-time view of machine uptime, use, toner levels and other metrics across your entire printer estate. You may also want to set daily or weekly print limits for each device from a central portal.

Look for a service level agreement that includes a comprehensive maintenance arrangement and same-day response. This will eliminate the need to keep printer spares on site. Your MPS service provider should be able to tailor its services to your needs, including specifying the hardware and software, workflows, testing, installing and training. 

Printer security is a big issue these days, as many companies overlook the need to protect their printers (and their wider network) from cyberthreats. If you don’t have the expertise in-house, look for a partner who can make sure your systems are secure from attack through networked printers.

Likewise, if your current print environment doesn’t enable you to comply with GDPR, look for a printer management solution that supports full data encryption and ‘follow-me’ printing, so that confidential documents won’t print until the user authenticates the device.

4. Manage: Fix the basics

Once you have a dashboard that gives you real-time analytics, you can begin to take steps to cut costs. 

For example, you may be able to change printer settings to make ‘draft mode’ the default for standard printing. This simple change can halve the amount of ink used, as well as speeding up printing. 

Educating end users to print double-sided and in greyscale will also help to reduce spending on consumables. Identifying colour printers that are mainly used for monochrome allows you to deploy printers optimally across the network.

Using a hold/release queued approach gives certain users authority to release held jobs. This cuts out unnecessary printing. A cloud-based managed print solution will obviate the need for individual print servers and automate print driver updates, reducing the maintenance burden on your IT team. Automating access to print metrics through your portal/dashboard is the first step in enabling small data-driven changes that will deliver great efficiencies.

5. Optimise productivity

Integrating your print environment with document management can transform workplace productivity. Scanning and storing documents enables you to manage them electronically, adding relevant metadata by reading invoice numbers, for example. This approach saves manual data re-entry, reduces errors, enables process automation and makes it easier to search for and find data.

The bottom line

Print costs can run at anywhere from one to 10 per cent of a firm’s turnover. A saving of 30 per cent of your existing print costs is not unusual once you switch to an MPS model – a big saving for the bottom line.  

Nigel Allen is marketing director at ASL Group