By Chip Miceli
February 19, 2009
With an increasing number of businesses walking the proverbial tight rope between trimming costs and maintaining performance levels, it is more important than ever to have a number of economic contingency plans in place.
Most business analysts would agree that there are but two avenues a company can take to help offset a diminishing bottom line - increasing sales or cutting expenses. When the first does not deliver as promised, most owners or decision-makers resort to the latter. Trimming expenses can prove to be challenging for company executives who need to reduce outlay without compromising the business’s ability to function.
One often-ignored means of reducing expenses without compromising efficiency is the process of print management. Simply put, print management is the total process and costs associated with a company’s document generation. Absent such planning, virtually every office - from the high technology recruiting firm in Detroit that generates reams of placement reports to the mid-sized real estate agency in Ann Arbor that produces volumes of sell sheets to market properties, to the Chicago-based not-for-profit - is paying top dollar to produce daily copies and reports.
Across the Midwest, and the United States, companies looking to trim expenses without trimming productivity can take a first step by adopting the principles of print management.
With today’s competitive pricing of multi-function printers, many companies are generating their marketing and corporate materials internally. This can be an economical step if done correctly. Information released by the Gartner Group, a Stamford, CT-based leader in research and analysis to the global IT industry, indicates that companies spend between 1 and 3 percent of annual revenue on document output. Or, said differently, a business that generates $3 million can expect to spend between $30,000 and $90,000 for internal document management.
When evaluating that expenditure, a company purchasing agent might be inclined to “go for the bargain” and purchase the least expensive equipment needed to generate documents. In fact, though, the actual point-of-purchase equipment cost is minor compared to the expense of generating document after document. If we think of it in terms of purchasing a car, consider the choice of a vehicle with a sticker price of $22,000 that gets 15 miles per gallon, versus one with a $28,000 price tag that delivers 30 miles per gallon. Many consumers would opt for the second choice, believing that the payback in fuel efficiency would offset the initial purchase price.
That same reasoning should apply when purchasing equipment. The office printer purchased for the sale price of $99 at the local big name store may seem like a bargain, but factor in several dozen $40 replacement cartridges annually and the prudent business owner may soon wish to review other options.
Schools, private corporations, medical facilities and major not-for-profit organizations with hefty printing needs are prime candidates for print management software programs that can help a business evaluate its document solutions output. These programs are valuable for corporations and facilities that use multiple printers and copiers because they can monitor and track the number of copies each piece of equipment produces. These programs also examine paper consumption, cartridge replacement costs, usage of scanners and facsimiles and can earmark potential issues, such as low toner and misfeeds before they become annoying, time-consuming problems. These software programs have the capability of generating reports that evaluate cost-per-page and cost-of-ownership analyses.
A print management system can provide a company the information necessary to determine the right number and mix of printers, copiers, faxes and other imaging equipment necessary to run its operation efficiently and economically. Factored into the print management equation are all costs associated with leasing or owning equipment and all related usage costs, including maintenance. The print management approach makes particular sense for companies with multiple offices locations.
Armed with the proper information relative to hidden costs, company executives can better determine if their current document generation equipment is working for or against them.
Many companies in the business of selling document generating equipment can guide the business owner toward what is truly economical versus what only seems to be. As a starting point, it makes sense when purchasing equipment to ask what the actual per-page cost of generating documents is - and then consider that more carefully than the purchase price.
Today’s economic landscape presents many challenges for business owners, but by reviewing all potential measures for savings - including print management - you may be better prepared to handle those challenges.
Chip Miceli is president of Des Plaines Office Equipment (www.dpoe.com), with locations in Chicago, Elk Grove Village and Rockford, IL.