Businesses need to gain a better understanding of the amount of printing that is taking place in their organisation and to control it. To do this, SMBs should consider software options that can identify, track and manage printing. "As IDC has identified, the first step to controlling costs is to identify what these costs are," confirms Laidlaw.
"By installing tracking software which sits on the network, the business can monitor and manage print volume by department or user. For example, it can pinpoint which employees are printing, whether the print jobs are colour or mono and the number of pages in each case, the time of day jobs are sent and the type of files being printed."
Armed with this information, usage software can then enable the setting of rules that can help control print output and so reduce on-going costs. These can include:
- Identifying individual user or department activity in order to charge specific departments or customers accordingly
- Setting mono printing as standard, so that users have to change the driver settings to print in colour
- Setting defaults so that all documents print in duplex unless the printer settings are changed to single-sided mode
- Allowing only certain employees to print in colour, limit colour use for particular document types or set page limits for each user's colour output
- Setting a draft or toner save mode as standard, so that users only change the settings if they expressly need higher quality print output
Reducing the need for external print servicesThe cost of external print services should be included in any analysis of overall print costs and requirements. The availability of print devices that enable more printing to move in-house means that SMBs can print what they need when they need it, rather than printing large volumes in order to get the necessary economies of scale which can lead to wastage and a requirement for extra storage space which can often be limited within SMBs.