Whether you’re a small sales office printing the occasional email or a large architectural office with its own printing department, a print audit is an essential cost-control tool. Most of the costs associated with printing – the materials, the energy usage and the hardware costs – tend to get lost in the overall businesses overheads. What’s more, maintenance costs in human-resources terms are often absorbed into the company’s IT department, and the total cost of ownership of individual pieces of equipment becomes obscured.
While many companies are happily unaware of the current inefficiencies in their printing procedures, after a print audit has been conducted the possible cost savings can make for uncomfortable reading. However, as with all business deficiencies, the sooner they are recognised, the sooner they can be rectified.
What Will A Print Audit Identify?
After an in-depth print audit on a company’s network has been conducted, several main areas of loss will be identified.
Firstly, the audit will report on who is printing what, how frequently and using which devices. This in itself has several benefits. If employees are printing in bulk, re-printing (printing after mistakes have been spotted, or printing because the print-off has been misplaced) or printing in high volumes to local, less efficient machines, new company standards and guidelines can be introduced to restrict excess wastage. Naturally, this audit will also identify individuals or departments which may be printing unnecessarily. An internal training session maybe required to change the behaviours of those who prefer to see every piece of work in hard copy.
Secondly, the audit will identify printing abuses. Unfortunately, this is a common issue. Employees simply fail to understand the cost of printing at the office and don’t see that their 300-page manuscript might have an impact on the company’s bottom line.
Thirdly, inefficiencies and bottlenecks on the office floor and in the network are highlighted. While this may seem a smaller problem, it could be the greatest of all. Both conditions lead to greater printing costs and losses in employee productivity. Waiting ten minutes for a necessary printout might not be too serious once a day, but multiply it by the number of employees in the office and the loss to productivity soon adds up. Likewise, a print costing 10 pence versus a print costing 12 pence might seem small, but with thousands of individual sheets being printed per day, the cost can be considerable.
What Improvement Solutions Will Be Made?
Depending on the deficiencies identified, after you’ve received your professional print audit your auditor will probably have a range of suggestions to make. All of these recommendations will aim to reduce your printing costs and increase your company’s security.
Alongside the internal human issues and fixes mentioned above, a print audit will enable you to redirect bulk printing or high-volume printing jobs or entire departments to a more cost-effective printer. It may also reduce costs by limiting the colour-usage availability to certain users. Limiting the number of pages that can be printed without authorisation and multi-layer PDFs might also be advised.
And most importantly, one important and costly aspect of printing is often overlooked: a print audit will identify issues in document security. Every year, hundreds of companies across the UK suffer from confidential documents being printed and shared. A print audit can help implement a reporting system which will notify a manager when a confidential document is reproduced.
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