How To Cut Back On Colour Printing Costs: Advice For Office Managers

Printed colour paper is often one of the most wasteful expenses a busy office can incur. Inefficient technology, bad processes and lazy working practices allow colour paper waste to quickly build up, and if you have calculated the average cost per page, you'll quickly want to do something about it. Everyone in the office has an important role to play, but office managers can lead the way in this particular area of cost reduction. Here are four ideas for you to consider

Invest in more advanced colour printers

Hardware technology improves all the time, and new colour printers are now more efficient than ever. While a laser printer is generally more expensive than an inkjet printer, you'll get faster and cheaper prints, and you'll normally get a more professional finish on the printed pages than you might expect from an inkjet printer.

Your printer supplier can talk to you about the cost-per-page you can expect from each model, but remember that other factors can affect the actual numbers you get. For example, the type of cartridge you use could also bring down the costs, especially where you use refilled or recycled toner. You can also opt for high-yield cartridges for teams that last longer. Talk to your supplier for information about all the options available to you.

Issue brand guidelines for common documents

It's not often practical to completely ban colour printing in an office, although your IT department can sometimes deactivate this option in network settings if you need to. Nonetheless, it's generally better to educate your workers about the best ways to use colour documents and printing, as colour can add value and improve many documents your people regularly need to set up.

Establish internal and external brand guidelines with your marketing department, so everyone sticks to the same principles. For example, when developing presentation slides, a basic design that uses fewer colours on a page will help save money on toner cartridge costs. Bear in mind that colour images (such as stock photos) normally use a lot of colour ink, so you may want to keep these images out of your standard templates.

You should also share tips and ideas about how everyone in the office can make better use of each page. For example, make sure everyone knows how to print on both sides of the page.  The 'shrink-to-fit' option in many software packages will also help cut out those unwanted prints that spread across two pages and invariably end up in the recycling bin.

Centralise colour printing

You don't necessarily need to offer colour printing on every printer. You may decide that some teams can cope perfectly well without colour prints, so it's often a good idea to centralise your colour prints in one or two places in the office. What's more, with all the colour prints going through one or two printers, you can benefit from more efficient running costs.

If necessary, you can use central printers (or managed print services) to manage printing costs based on different cost centres. For example, if your marketing team does most of the colour printing, a centralised system can help you allocate most of the cost to that team. It's often interesting to see how budget holders crack down on costs when they see the dollar signs appear against their budgets in their monthly reports.

Implement paperless working

Paperless working doesn't just mean you switch off printers. In fact, paperless offices still sometimes need to print things, but you can drastically cut down on paper waste by focusing on digital processes and solutions.

If your team members use laptops and/or tablet computers, you should encourage people to use these devices in meetings and group activities where they may otherwise print off and look at documents together. Use lean working practices to investigate processes that use a lot of paper, and look for ways to change these ways of working to get rid of the reliance on paper documents.

You'll probably need to get senior managers on board. Senior executives are often the hardest people to convert to paperless working because they like the reassurance of paper copies of everything. Find a senior sponsor who will champion this way of working, so everyone in the business can see that the message 'comes from the top'.

Colour printing can enhance and improve many business documents, but without controls in place, you could end up with an unwanted print cost every month. Nonetheless, with some sensible working practices in place, you can keep your cost-per-page down to a reasonable level and enjoy the benefits of high-quality colour prints.