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The Most Important Step to Evaluating Your Printer Fleet

Kurt Konicke
12/28/2021
printer evaluation

Everyone wants to get the most value from their printers. But if you have a large fleet of printers across multiple locations, how do you even begin to assess performance and identify possible improvements?

Unfortunately, it is easy to deploy print resources on a large scale without any clear notion of what your larger strategy is. The good news is that it is possible to do a printer fleet assessment and fix many of the issues you may be experiencing. We have found that the true starting point for any printer self-assessment is not to look at your machines, but to look at what is being printed.

If you look at the output tray on your printers during the day, what will you find? Are most of those pages going into the trash, or are they being used to help get work get done? Are your printed invoices, contracts and forms going to the right places, or is your paper workflow broken?

THE FIRST STEP IS THE HARDEST

We have found that investing in new print technology can make almost any organization more productive. However, even the best technology will go to waste if you don’t have the right processes, culture or workflows in place to take advantage of it. 

To start, you need to get the picture of what prints are being made and how they are being used. Start with an average monthly volume for each device. This will tell you if you have the right equipment in the right place. You should also collect and analyze your printing needs for each department.

You should be able to look at the overall figures and volumes by device type (copiers, printers, black and white or color) and the operating costs for each device. You will begin to see if there are inefficient devices and departments that are driving your printing costs. You might be surprised to find out where your printing budget is going every month.

THE COSTS YOU CAN’T SEE

Once you look at what prints are being made and where they are being made, you will begin to see whether some types of output are driving your printing costs. The average cost per page for a black-and-white copy is around 5 cents, while an average color copy could be 10 to 15 cents. Do your teams need so many color prints, or are some documents better off printed in black and white?

Another important figure to know is a printer’s page yield. This is the average number of prints a machine will give you every month, as determined by the manufacturer.  If one of your teams is exceeding this figure, you could be causing unnecessary wear and tear. Conversely, if a printer is not being used at a rate close to the page yield, you may be spending more than necessary on print devices.

However, the most important test might simply be to take a walk past several high-use printers. If you can see reams of paper in the recycling bin or sitting on the output tray without being read, then your company is clearly printing more than necessary.

THINK ABOUT LESS INK

A print fleet assessment will reveal a lot about the way an organization works. Are documents being printed that could more easily be shared online? If you see a high volume of emails being printed, it is useful to ask why an electronic communication is being printed.

Other considerations include:

  • Are multiple copies of invoices or work orders being printed? If so, your workflows might be inefficient and important documents are being lost.

  • Is personal information, financial records or customer information being printed and left where someone could access it improperly. If you find confidential records on a printer or copier, then it might be time to implement print security measures so that documents can only be printed when the appropriate individual logs into the device and secures the documents.

  • Lastly, is one department printing, scanning and copying on different devices? A multifunction machine can consolidate your printing and copying costs in one device for much less expense.

Self-awareness can be an uncomfortable thing. But if you want to make sure your printers are being used in the most cost-effective way, it is time to look at what is being printed and how it’s being used. If you’d like help with this assessment, talk to the Managed Print Service experts at the Gordon Flesch Company. We’ve helped thousands of companies fix inefficient print infrastructure since we were founded in 1956.

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