Governmental restrictions in most U.S. states have closed non-essential business locations temporarily to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 to employees and customers. As a result, employees who have not been furloughed are working remotely. These temporary closures provide an opportunity to improve businesses’ printing processes and equipment.

As most business owners can attest, business operations can stop when the printer breaks or the storeroom has no more toner cartridges. With business operations suspended within the business office and employees working at home, now is the time to implement print device management.

The Role and Purpose of Print Device Management

Print device management has two components – management of print environment and controlling print inventory. Both aspects are designed to improve efficiency, eliminate downtime, and reduce printing costs.

Auditing the Print Environment

Print devices have inherent capacities and capabilities. For example, the speed of the processor and amount of memory in the printer determines how quickly it can output documents and how many documents it can cache. Likewise, toner or ink capacity and paper capacity determine how frequently consumables must be replaced.

Print devices also have measurable demand. A print audit measures the number of pages printed over a defined duration by each device and shows both the total printing volume and the printing volume of each print device.

Comparing the overall demand to the overall capacity and each individual device’s demand to the individual device’s capacity reveals whether the business’s capacity is enough to meet its demands. Moreover, it can identify inefficiencies, such as underused print devices that waste money and overused print devices that waste time.

Developing a Printing Policy

A printing policy is unique to each business. The business’s printing demands are analyzed to identify unnecessary printing. As of 2016, 45% of pages printed were thrown away the same day. This massive waste pushes printing to the third-highest cost for most businesses, trailing only payroll and rent.

By comparing the amount of printing to the amount of waste, the business’s needs can be distinguished from its demand. For example, if a business has the typical 45% waste, its needs would only be 55% of its pre-audit demand.

Based on this assessment, a policy can be developed that targets waste and encourages printing that is needed, rather than wasteful. These policies can be implemented through both employee training and printing controls.

Managing Print Devices

At the same time, the printing environment can be optimized to allocate excess capacity where it is needed. For example, an underused printer can be shifted to relieve an overused printer. Savings on both the replacement and repair of printers may be realized by simply moving a printer or changing which work stations print.

When printing capacity is insufficient to meet a business’s needs, a device management provider identifies new printers that can be added to the print environment. Among the considerations for these new printers are the business’s needs and budget.

Management of Consumables

Once print volume is controlled through a print policy, the business’s consumption of paper, ink, and toner can be projected. These projections can be used to hit the inventory sweet spot where a business has enough inventory that it does not run out of consumables, but not so much that a substantial amount sits idle.

Consumable management through managed print services is important for two reasons:

  • Reduced downtime: When a business runs out of ink, toner, or paper, printing operations stop until the stock can be replaced.
  • Improve productivity: Rather than having an employee spending time to track inventory and order consumables, the order can be a standing order that is tailored to cover the business’s needs.

Maintenance of Print Devices

The purpose of maintenance is to minimize downtime. That is, maintenance that takes an hour of downtime is much less costly than a repair that takes a week of downtime. Routine cleaning and inspection can reduce wear of parts and allows replacement before they break. Maintenance offers businesses to schedule downtime rather than being taken by surprise when a printer breaks down.

The current coronavirus-related business closures provide an ideal time to schedule downtime for maintenance. While employees are out of the office, downtime will not affect workers’ productivity. When workers return, you will need functioning devices that remain in service rather than going down for repairs.

Print Device Management is an Iterative Process

Print device management can help prepare your business to reopen. An audit does not necessarily require observation of a business in operation to craft a printing policy. Once your business resumes, the printing policy can be adjusted.

Similarly, if the needs of your business change, the policy can be scaled to meet those needs. For example, in a post-pandemic world, a business may resume operations with a blend of in-office and remote workers. Based on different needs, the policy, as well as the devices needed to carry out the policy, may be adjusted.

Contact us to begin a print device management and maintenance plan before your business reopens.