Do you print a lot of documents and spend a good amount of money every month on paper and ink cartridges?

If your organization demands working on “paper documents”, the overall printing and paper costs can sum up to a huge amount.

Printing costs can amount to between 1% and 3% of turnover and are increasing fast.

An important first step for any company is to examine how information flows through its business and between customers and suppliers.

Complex business processes will often involve transferring information between hard copy and digital formats.

The goal must be to avoid hard copy technology (printers) becoming the bottleneck that relegates business to a snail’s pace.

Being able to capture hard copy information (printed information) and quickly turn it into a digital format that can be easily shared is a powerful way to increase the pace of business, sometimes eliminating hours or even days from cycle times and improving customer satisfaction.

For companies looking for faster results, there are some simple measures to reduce costs with little effort.

In spite of our continued need for paper copies of documents, there are numerous small steps that can be taken to help companies move toward a paperless office, though it seems unlikely that printing will be entirely eliminated at any point in the foreseeable future.

Some of the following techniques are more effective than others, but all will help printer users become more aware of their printing habits, and can have incremental effects on paper use and the company’s bottom line:

• Duplexing: companies can potentially reduce annual paper costs by 30% by selecting duplex printing(automatic double-sided printing) as the default option

* Default all printers to economy monochrome mode, forcing printer users to choose colour only if they really need it.

• N-Up Printing: Selecting the “n-up” or “multiple pages per sheet” option within Printing Preferences can be an effective way of including two or more pages on one sheet of paper.

However, readability and formality often eliminate N-Up as an option for company use.

• Print Preview: Although cumbersome and slightly inefficient (the user must return to the original document to make changes before printing), using the print preview function within most applications gives the user the opportunity to see an approximation of what they are about to print.

Copy & Paste from Web Browsers: When printing a Web document, many users try to copy and paste the text on its own into a text editor application such as Microsoft Word.

This method is not always effective, as formatting, links, and images are often lost in the transfer, proving to be a frustrating experience. It can be a messy process that traps users into wasting time fixing formats and deleting ads.

The cumbersome nature of this process means it is rarely adopted in the business world.

• PDF Creation: The popularity of the Portable Document Format, or PDF, is widespread: According to Adobe, PDF is a global printing standard, formally known as ISO 32000, covering the more than 1 billion PDF files in existence.

If a printed copy is not necessary, a PDF is an effective alternative to printing as a means of archiving or sharing a document, although professional grade PDF writers can be expensive.

• Print Management Tools: For those organizations willing to invest the time and resources, it can be valuable to implement a comprehensive print management solution that allows for user authentication, tracking, quotas, and limitations on what employees can and cannot print. This will save a lot of money

The best return on investment is probably gained by educating people.

Everyone needs to know the cost of printing and how to minimise it by working on screen and only printing essential documents.

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