Taming Your Office Monster

Cast your eye over your office and see if you can spot which piece of equipment is costing you most. The culprit is most likely skulking unobtrusively next to a desk or in a little room off the side.

With its dull grey casing and innocently blinking lights, the office printer does not look like much of a villain. Without it, you would have no glossy presentations to send off, no memos to hand out, no contracts to sign, no rough drafts to scribble on.

But do not be fooled: the average office printer is a little monster. Printers are among the most power-hungry devices attached to your network, and the fact that they are used by many people means they are rarely switched off.

They also use paper, of course. Lots of it. Particularly if the default print setting is one-sided only and there are no policies in place to minimise paper consumption. Plus they use ink and potentially other consumables, such as staples.

That is not the worst of it. Every time something goes wrong (and things tend to go wrong with printers quite a lot), it causes a massive headache for your IT people. Because printers are rarely seen as a core component of your IT estate, the chances are that nobody has put much thought into standardising them.

So your business ends up with a host of different printer models and service contracts. It is a maintenance nightmare. At the same time, few organisations pause to think about their exact printing requirements before investing in a new printer. This means both your capital and operating expenditure on printing are probably a lot higher than they need to be.

So what can you do? More and more organisations nowadays are turning to managed print services, where responsibility for your printing is handed over to a company that is solely dedicated to managing printers.

While that may sound like an unnecessary extravagance, in fact it can save your business a lot of money. Millions of pounds, in some cases. How? As part of a managed print service you get:

  • An audit that pinpoints the exact printing requirements of each department and location plus the cost-effectiveness of each machine
  • A purchasing strategy that focuses on making sure each department and location has the most cost-efficient machine it needs to meet business requirements, reducing your capital expenditure and power consumption
  • Standard printer makes and models, which reduces your maintenance costs
  • A single service contract to reduce cost and complexity
  • Centrally enforced printer and printing policies to cut power consumption and wastage and ensure compliance with your purchasing requirements
  • Automated consumables ordering, to make sure your printers never run dry
  • Automated hardware and software upgrades to ensure your machines are always in working order
  • Accredited consumables recycling and energy management information, to help comply with your environmental policies.

The level of savings that can be achieved through managed print services is astounding. Just by replacing four laser printers, a fax and a copier with a single multifunction device, for example, you can cut power consumption by 45%.

Multiply this across a medium or large organisation and you get results like those obtained by the insurer Jardine Lloyd Thompson, which cut printing costs by 30%, equivalent to £1.5 million over the period of its managed print services contract. If you are looking to make similar savings in your business, then it is time to accept the printer in the corner is not quite as innocuous as you think—and it will pay to get outside help to tame it.

John Taylor has held many senior positions across Finance, Operations and Sales in managed service businesses. John joined M2 in 2009 from Lex where he was a main board director, of the £1.2bn turnover business having helped drive its growth fourfold over the previous 10 years.