Procurement 7 September 2016

Nailing your small business printing practices

inkjet printer
Inkjet printing is perfect for small businesses that need to print in colour at a low volume
Small business owners don’t have a clue how much they’re spending on printing, or even what they should be spending, finds Cartridge World’s UK head Paul Callow.

The average UK office worker now uses 10, 000 sheets of paper each year, with an estimated 6, 800 of these wasted while employees print emails unnecessarily.

Whether printing is done in-house or is outsourced, smaller firms can regain control of print spending by changing a few bad habits that may have crept in over the years. Common occurrences include workers failing to use the duplex function (double sided printing) if it’s not set as default, printing duplicates and forgetting about documents left on printers.

Data from printers is often inaccurate, saying ink or toner is running low when actually it isnt. This can lead to supplies being ordered more frequently than is necessary, costing companies more money than it should. On top of that, the average printer estate can log 100 errors a day a real headache for organisations to manage.

Horses for courses

If your small business is in the process of buying a printer, it’s worth considering your printing requirements before being suckered in by an expensive machine that you may not need.

Inkjet printers are really good for colour and high-spec documents. With low initial costs, inkjets are perfect for small businesses that need to print in colour but only at a low volume. Replacement ink can be expensive, so consider fully guaranteed alternatives to EOM branded toners and ink if you want to keep costs down.

For a small venture printing basic documents, a mono-laser printer is perfect. it’s quieter, faster and will deliver a better finish. The front-end cost may be higher than for an inkjet, but running costs are cheaper because youll get a lot more pages per cartridge. Long-term, a laser printer can prove to be more effective.

Multi-function printers offer printing, scanning, photocopying and faxing in one machine, and should be seriously considered as the cost of a multi-function device is often not much more than a normal stand-alone printer.

Not everything is in black and white

Colour printing is a big cost for businesses. While having printers set up to print in black and white as a default is a simple cost saving solution, colour printing can often be important for smaller organisations wishing to present themselves professionally. Cost can become unnecessarily prohibitive when printing in colour because you want a company logo to appear on professional statements and document.

The industry is beginning to change, however, with solutions like aQrate from UTAX determining outsourcing costs based on how much colour is on a page, rather than simple costing based on whether a page is in colour or in black and white.

Be analytical

Small business owners should aim to take back control of their print spending. Tools are available to provide supply forecasts and analytics solutions, offering up-to-date information about the status of entire printer estates through centralised dashboards. This is one of the biggest advances in printing in recent times and the single best way for small firms to get a handle on printing costs.

Businesses can manage these systems internally, monitoring for performance issues and when and where components need replacing, as well as accurately measuring ink and toner levels to replenish supplies.

Avoiding vendor lock-in

If company owners decide to sign up for managed print services contracts, wrapping all business printing needs into one monthly payment seems like a sensible solution.

Buried in small print of the contracts though, may well be some questionable practices. Many small businesses are severely hamstrung by contracts they are locked into, paying far too much for toner, ink and devices products they very often don’t actually need.

There are a few questions that any business owner should consider before signing on the dotted line:

How long does the contract tie me in for?

You want to get as much flexibility as possible here as your business needs are likely to change month-to-month.