Printing - the last hidden business cost - Business Works
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Printing - the last hidden business cost

by Rob Brown, Managed Document Services Business Manager, Oki Systems UK new survey reveals that still theres more printing going on than we think, says Rob Brown, managed document services business manager at Oki Systems UK.

How much printing does your business carry out every year? The chances are that you wont really know. While many businesses these days have been meticulous about cutting down lighting, heating and other bills, printing costs often remain unmeasured and often hidden.

This is surprising, especially when most offices use e-mail and digital documents and talk about creating a paperless environment. We decided to find out for ourselves what is really going on. We commissioned a survey of more than 2000 office workers on their evolving attitudes towards printing and paper use, both at home and in the office. As a provider of managed document services, we were particularly interested in whether businesses are still in control of their printing volumes and costs.

paperless office - not in the near future!

The results were surprising. First, they quashed any prediction that the paperless office will become a reality in the near future. But, they also suggested that many organisations are wasting significant sums of money by not controlling their print output or streamlining their document workflow.

For example, the poll revealed that 92% still carry out some kind of printing daily, with 45% printing ten pages or more and 15% printing out more than 50 pages on an average day in the office. The main reasons given were the importance of the document (64%) and the need for hard copy evidence (54%).

79% print personal documents

However, this was not the only revelation. It seems that 79% of those polled use office equipment to print personal documents. Some 9% even claimed to do this every day. The main reason given was the lack of a printer at home (38%). The next was simply 'ease of use' - an answer which speaks volumes about the average office workers attitude towards printing.

So, why has the situation veered so much out of control and what can be done? In the OKI survey, only 27% said that their organisation had a printing policy in place that was actively being enforced, with nearly half (47%) admitting that they had no such policy whatsoever.

This is frustrating to witness as, by taking expert device and adopting some straightforward measures, these organisations could cut bills and use of paper significantly. For example, by ensuring that for everyday work, double-sided printing is the default option or by turning printers off at night. Some 61% of survey respondents said that no-one in their office was responsible for this small, yet effective task. Setting up printers correctly alone can help reduce costs. It can also help eliminate over-runs and improve 'right first time' rates.

Diverse and ageing printers can be replaced with new multifunction devices that use less energy and enable paper-free document flow such as scan or fax to e-mail. This not only cuts down on printing, but also prevents the possibility of a sensitive and confidential document being left lying around.

There is also the question of mobile printing to consider. The survey showed that many employees are now expecting to connect to office printers from their own smartphones and tablets. Of the 24% who bring their own phones and tablets into the work environment, a substantial 45% print from these devices using the office printer. Mobile printing apps which enable the wireless use of a variety of printers are becoming increasingly popular.

Its clear that the blurring of home and office time, brought on by the rise of mobile working is having an impact on printing and that, despite the digitisation of business, most business are still a long way off being paperless. A managed document service provider can help businesses of any size avoid unnecessary costs from this evolving situation, offering the expertise needed to bring office printing into the 21st century, while still making substantial cost and energy savings. While a policy developed internally can bring short-term benefits, the specialist advice obtained can help with more sophisticated streamlining of document workflow and are also a way to buy printers, supplies maintenance and support in one all-inclusive contract.

For more information about Oki and managed services, please visit:

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