Printing is essential to any business. Practically every business in the UK uses at least one printer, and most probably uses it more than they should. Medium to large companies are affected the most when it comes to overuse of printing facilities, but smaller business with smaller budgets need to be just as cautious about over-printing. A print audit in its most basic form will analyse your printing output and help you reduce your overall printing usage. If you’ve ever wondered whether a print audit is for you, then read on through this comprehensive guide to the benefits of print audits.
Printing and the Workplace
Just like internet use, it’s not easy to keep an eye on employees’ print usage. Some figures indicate that the average member of staff prints 34 pages a day, and of those pages, 17% are superfluous.
Although the first computer printer was developed in the 19th century by Charles Babbage, printers didn’t become widespread in offices until the 1980s, when ink-jet and laser printers first came on to the scene. In theory, with the advent of emails and online databases, the need for printing should have been dramatically reduced over the last decade, and yet workplaces still have problems with over-printing, whether it’s legitimate work-based documents or staff printing for personal use.
When you include the amount of copying that takes place and the faxes that come through, this increases the amount of paper being used even more.
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Why Do I Need a Print Audit? Financial Savings
Unnecessary printing can cost your business dearly. The cost of paper and the cost of ink can run in to the thousands for a large company, and if it’s unchecked a large proportion of this could be unnecessary spending. A good print audit management system could save your company up to a whopping £147 per year per employee. Depending on the size of your workplace, this could signify a huge saving.
Companies can no longer ignore the impact their business operations have on the environment. Paper production is a huge threat to the environment, and the 400% increase in paper consumption over the past four decades has not been without its impact. Paper creation causes deforestation, and paper manufacturing can cause significant air and water pollution. Even paper that is recycled is not without harm, as the process of de-inking the paper causes yet more pollution.
The Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015 signified a huge cultural and political shift when it comes to taking responsibility for pollution and carbon emissions. With 190 countries agreeing to do everything they can to limit emissions to the point that global temperatures do not exceed two degrees higher than pre-industrial levels, it’s going to fall on everybody to play a part in helping with this. This could well signify the start of businesses being held even more accountable for their carbon footprint, and if a time comes when companies need to prove they are doing their bit, a print audit could be a valuable asset.
What Is a Print Audit?
Print audits vary, but the best ones are tailor-made for each business and are a fully comprehensive service. A good print audit will begin with by establishing your needs. It will start by looking at current expenditure on printing and what controls are already in place. The next step would be to agree the objectives. A good print audit will need cooperation and commitment from the company as well as the people doing the audit. This step will look at time scales and what’s expected from the process.
The third step is the analysis itself. This is a vital part of the process, and it’s only through this that you will discover how much printing is taking place, from which computers and how much it’s really costing you. A good print audit will use carefully extracted data using specialist software. The analysis stage will also look at your business and industry, thinking specifically about the necessary printing that is essential for you to run an effective business.
The next step is looking at methods of cutting down on printing. It’s only after the in-depth analysis that you can consider how excessive printer use can be solved. This step will involve the creation of a ‘print policy’ which will be the backbone of your continued print management system. The next step is the implementation of the print management system. After this, it’s about the continued management of it, the control of the system and constant improvement.
Businesses can also choose whether the continued print management service is wholly managed by a third party or managed in-house.
As you can see, a print audit is fast becoming as integral to the running of your business as a stock take or financial audit. A thorough print audit will not only save you money on expensive printing, copying and faxing costs, but it could also heavily reduce the carbon footprint of your business. The print audit itself is part of a larger print management system that can be entirely outsourced or carried out in-house in conjunction with a specialist print management service. However you go about your print audit, you’ll end up with reduced running costs, a more efficient printing and copying culture within your workplace and a very happy accountant. Why not take the first step today in reducing the amount of unnecessary printing at your business?