Attitude and education is the key to bringing down printing costs

| 2 July 2014

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Over the last month I have been doing some informal research into the way companies manage their print solutions. The off-the-cuff research involved talking to various members of staff in different capacities on how they use technology in an office, and in particular what their printing habits are like.

How much do people print? How many documents are scanned? Do people still fax? Are companies cutting down on paper? Is there a true managed document solution in place?

In many respects we have moved beyond the massive printing machines in organisations. Don’t get me wrong, printing documents is still critical for many companies and will be so for a long time. How effectively are companies using these modern printing machines with incredible technology to maximise agility and efficiencies in the workspace?

Company “A” uses on average 150 reams of paper every month. Three years ago this company used 90 reams of paper a month and on average the monthly employee print output ratio has increased.

Company “B” uses on average 240 reams of paper per month. Three years ago this company used 150 reams of paper monthly. Printing costs have gone up.

Company “C” is currently using 150 reams of paper monthly. Three years ago this company was using on average 450 reams of paper per month. Double-sided printing has been enabled for the last 18 months and printing costs are down 40%.

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All three of the above companies are using new machines, yet two of these organisations are spending more on printing today than they did three years ago. Why has Company C cut down so much on paper and costs?

Why are some these employees within the above organisations not using these tools to their full potential? Where is the problem? Is it perhaps a barrier where people do not understand the technology? Is it a lack of proper training? Perhaps there’s some kind of a disconnect between the IT department who manage the equipment, and the people who actually use it. Why has that fundamental shift towards a more efficient workspace not taken place?

The point that stands out from Company “A” and Company “B” is that the printing habits have not changed at all. New equipment was installed but printing habits remained the same. Users have not been properly trained on using the scanning technology.

Company “C” took the approach of educating staff and aggressively training on the benefits of the new technology. They also enabled double-sided printing and encouraged staff to rather scan documents than print them out. They also created a chart that displayed the benefits to the environment the company was making by using less paper. This has had a positive impact on staff who felt they were making a difference to the planet.

All three companies issued monthly reports to users on how much they were printing but Company “C” incentivised this by offering prizes to users who reduced their monthly print volumes substantially. Company “C” also invested in software to better manage their document solutions. Interestingly most users from Company “A” and “B” did not even read the monthly print reports and actually had no idea how much they were printing monthly.

Every company is desperate to cut down on paper and costs. You can bring in the greatest equipment in the world but if your staff members do not change their attitudes towards print behaviour you will see no change in cost savings and efficiencies. It has to be a complete mind shift and there has to be a 100% buy in by everyone. The process needs to be driven from within and the key to the success is to keep the momentum going.

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