Almost all businesses have a printer, and most have a photocopier. This printing equipment is thought of as routine and employees use them without a second thought. However, business owners often do not know the costs associated with the operation of this equipment. Even businesses that track usage of their equipment, such as law firms, might fail to understand how to calculate printing costs to include indirect, hidden costs. A rigorous analysis can help to identify all types of business printing costs and ways policy and equipment changes can save money.

How to Determine Total Business Printing Costs

Many publications cite an unsourced statistic that the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year. However, the usage of business printing equipment will vary depending on the business. For example, shipping businesses continue to rely on paper records while medical and legal businesses have made a conscious effort to switch to electronic record keeping.

A printing cost analysis accounts for two sources of waste. First, wasteful use of copies can increase the total business printing costs. Second, resources that are not used optimally can increase the cost per page for business printing. Operating two copiers when a business only needs one is wasteful. This is because many types of costs go into running a printer, copier, or another printing device.

Types of Costs

Some expenses are directly attributable to total business printing costs. These direct costs include the cost of leasing or acquiring printing equipment and the cost of consumables such as paper, ink, and toner. Other direct, but overlooked, costs include service and repair of printing equipment to the extent they are not included in a lease contract, copy room employees, and energy consumption.

Indirect costs are costs that a business incurs as a ripple effect of operating printing equipment. Again, these will vary depending on how a business operates its copy and printing room. However, they can include such costs as:

  • Time: The opposite of too many printers and copiers, which is wasteful, is too few printers and copiers, which is inefficient. The time an office waits for a free printer or copier is an indirect cost.
  • Inventory: When a business does not have a handle on your business printing utilization, the business will likely mismanage inventory of consumables, sinking money into idle inventory or holding up business operations while waiting for supplies.
  • Security: Wasteful printing results in additional security costs to shred unused printed documents.
  • Opportunity: Employees who spend time running printing rooms or repairing or replacing printing equipment miss out on opportunities to focus on other, more profitable, tasks.

Examining Total Business Printing Costs Through a Cost per Page Analysis

A cost per page analysis normalizes the total business printing costs by dividing them by the total printing volume. This information gives a business a deep look into printer and copier efficiency.

Specifically, understanding the total business printing costs, the utilization of printing resources, and the capacity of the equipment, a business can develop policy changes and reallocate resources to improve efficiencies.

The reason a cost per page analysis provides such important information is that some printing costs are fixed. For example, a printer lease, service plan, and energy expense of a printer are the same whether that printer is used above capacity or below capacity. However, the cost per page is radically different depending on how many pages are produced.

Examples of insight that businesses gain through a cost per page analysis include:

  • Inefficiencies: Spot equipment that is overworked or underused.
  • Demands: Identify the printing needs of different users and departments.
  • Waste: Determine how and where unnecessary printing occurs.

How Managed Print Services Can Reduce Total Business Printing Costs

After diagnosing problems with a cost per page analysis, a managed print services plan is the blueprint for addressing those problems. Rather than acquiring and allocating equipment blindly, a managed print services plan places that equipment where it can be most efficiently used.

A cost per page analysis might, for example, identify that equipment in one department is overworked while equipment in another department is underused. Changing printing policies, along with reallocating resources, can improve efficiencies in both departments and reduce total business printing costs.

Moreover, by monitoring utilization, managed print services plans can identify when additional equipment is needed and where that equipment will be best deployed. Finally, proactive maintenance can minimize downtime, ensuring that equipment is used efficiently.

Business printing costs can represent a significant percentage of a business’s overhead. Contact DME to discuss a cost per page analysis and how managed print services can help a business control these costs.