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Affordable Print Management – The Final Frontier in IT

Looking at the maze of printing devices in almost any organization, one realizes that we are still far from technology’s promise of a completely digitized work environment.Out of necessity, convenience and personal preference, the great majority of today’s workers still use printers, copiers and fax machines. Some devices are new, some are old and there’s often a diverse collection of multi- and single-function machines, some connected to the network and some not. One thing is certain: from this tangled web stems chaotic supply and maintenance management, adding expense, cramping efficiency and reducing IT staff productivity.Often called the “final frontier in information technology (IT),” print management can help control spiraling expenses, not only from the cost of printers, toner and paper, but also from additional hardware, maintenance services and power consumption.

As more organizations look for ways to reduce costs and conserve capital, managed print services offer a simple way to get a grip on largely-undocumented, unpredictable and often excessive annual printing expenditures.

Our experience has found that managed print solutions can reduce printing costs by as much as 30 percent. They are customizable and provide a flexible, hassle-free way to procure printing hardware, supplies, service and support in one convenient, bundled contract.

Getting Started

A managed print solution begins with an assessment of an organization’s printing environment. The audit analyzes and documents usage patterns to understand where inefficiencies exist and improvements are possible. Done properly, the audit details valuable information including the number and type of printers, locations, users, what services/supplies each requires and how efficiently each is used in terms of print volumes, service and maintenance histories, and required ink types.

Managed print solutions provide estimates on the number of toner and ink cartridges, maintenance kits and other supplies required over the contract period, based on current and anticipated print volumes. These solutions can also help determine the right mix of printer types for the environment.

Consolidation is Critical

Consolidation isn’t simply a matter of eliminating redundant and high-cost devices. For example in some settings, combining multiple devices into a single, multi-functional unit also benefits the bottom line by eliminating wasted paper and other supplies. Consolidation can reduce printing power use by as much as 40 percent and increase security by making it more difficult to print, copy or fax potentially sensitive information. For businesses with multiple locations, consolidation enables proactive management of high-cost printing, making the most efficient use of color printers even while reducing total printing volume to save on ink and paper.

Finally, optimization and consolidation will involve the IT staff more directly with the printing/imaging infrastructure, ensuring a higher level of control.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Managed print solutions capitalize on the productivity and cost-reduction benefits of new printing technologies whenever appropriate, while conserving capital and managing operating costs. Budget constraints should not preclude all investments in new printing technology. New printers may reduce operating costs enough to pay for themselves very quickly and deliver significant savings for the long term.

An effective managed print solution evaluates the following variables in a comparison of available new equipment with the organization’s existing printers:

  • Energy use – New printers often include warm-up features that are more energy efficient than older technologies
  • Physical footprint – Consolidating to fewer devices or deploying smaller devices can free up space for higher value uses
  • Ink/toner use – New printers sometimes feature improved laser or inkjet technologies and quality adjustments that reduce average ink volumes per page. Many new cartridge designs hold much more ink, reducing frequency of replacement and associated management costs
  • Paper use and productivity – Duplexing, the two-sided print feature available on many new printers, reduces paper use and costs. That also means less time spent refilling the paper tray
  • Maintenance costs – New printer designs tend to reduce service requirements, and new toner-based printers are easier to self-service. Most new products include a maintenance package in the base cost or offer it as an option
  • Predictability – Under a managed print services contract, forecasted volumes establish the price of supplies and service, creating a predictive costing model. This enables organizations to pay only for their needs, usually with no minimums, escalators or page counts to manage. For organizations placing a high priority on cash flow, this reduction of financial risk can be very attractive

In almost any organization, the true costs of printing are hidden – buried in departmental operating budgets or charge-backs and in unallocated labor. When the organization focuses through a sharp lens on the actual costs of this ubiquitous IT function, managed print services become a very attractive and cost-effective alternative to do-it-yourself print management.

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