6 Simple Ways Line-of-Business Users Can Help IT Cut Costs

Line-of-business leaders (LOB) in sales and marketing call their IT teams often; a forgotten password, an application that isn't working, an uncooperative device, and a host of other seemingly critical yet disparate issues. Consider the power of partnering with these hardworking and underappreciated technical experts in evaluating common concerns to both IT and sales and marketing workgroups: printing and scanning.

Many companies are not managing hard-copy documents efficiently, simply because they haven't thought through how to properly deploy printers and all-in-ones in the office. By evaluating their device deployments, sales and marketing teams, among others, can suggest workflow strategies to reduce waste. This could free up budgets for other IT efforts that might support revenue-generating initiatives. Given their intense use of printing resources, the benefits line-of-business teams can offer to IT teams by this evaluation is especially significant.

To determine if you can suggest cost-savings changes to your IT team, consider these six key questions. By making simple changes that often require zero cost, you can help your technology team recover overlooked funds.

1. Approximately what percentage of your workflow is paperless?

The results taken from a self-assessment tool for business users offered by Brother International Corporation indicates that paper is still critical to business operations in most industries. On average, only 36 percent of respondents are utilizing paperless workflow. While paper will likely never go away entirely, sales and marketing managers can deploy technologies to help reduce the paper, increase efficiency, and minimize printing-related costs.

For example, an organization should consider adopting electronic document capture devices. Mobile and desktop scanners are ideal for road-warrior sales professionals and departmental workflow. Many models are small enough to fit into a briefcase and can quickly transform paper-based contracts, receipts, and business cards into digital data. This reduces paper clutter and unlocks critical information from paper documents to be utilized in marketing automation software (Marketo, Eloqua, etc.) and sales enablement solutions, such as KnowledgeTree, as well as primary CRM tools, like Salesforce.

2. Do you currently utilize output management software to help secure, redirect, or track print jobs in your office?

The data collected from the self-assessment tool shows only 22 percent of businesses are actually making use of these valuable tools. Output management software can help businesses control costs and reduce paper usage. An InfoTrends whitepaper titled “Device Underuse and Unbalanced Fleets” reports that organizations can maximize cost savings and productivity through print management/cost recovery solutions to automate a range of print, copy, and scan tasks, including activity tracking, cost allocation, quota setting/enforcement, secure printing, and job redirect and reporting.

LOB leaders can also reduce costly color printing.  Color printing and booklet binding, can be critical when assembling attractive, high-impact materials for sales proposals, presentations, and other prospect-facing business documents. But many day-to-day internal documents require only black-and-white printing. It's prudent to conserve budget dollars by eliminating the use of costly color ink/toner when not needed.

3. How many pages does your organization print per month?

InfoTrends research shows a steady decline in printing, which can be attributed to a number of factors. Many employees choose to work from smartphones and tablets rather than from printed documents. This is especially true for outside salespeople. Most print jobs are now five pages or fewer, and the decline in print volumes will persist as more operations move from paper to digital. This knowledge can translate into big savings for your organization or department.

Many larger multifunction printers are capable of printing at least 100,000 pages per month. But many small and medium-size businesses typically print no more than 10,000 pages per month, according to InfoTrend's “Device Underuse and Unbalanced Fleets” whitepaper. For organizations that have invested in higher-volume devices, this underuse may be wasting valuable capital. Determine your organization’s print volume, recalibrate your agreement, and consider right-sizing your devices to curb your monthly expenditures.

4. Which best describes your current document output environment: (a) printers for every desktop; (b) mix of desktop printers, shared printers and stand-alone copiers; or (c) primarily a shared stand-alone printer/copier?

The ideal solution is a mix of desktop printers, shared printers, and stand-alone copiers. The self-assessment results show that 18 percent of companies provide a printer for each employee and 25 percent have a mix. However more than half (57 percent) rely on a shared stand-alone printer/copier—a strategy that may kill productivity and hurt the bottom line.

5. What is the approximate number of printers and printer/copiers in use at your company?

To optimize productivity, maintain a worker-to-device ratio of approximately 8-1. According to a survey conducted by Clarus Research Group, workers with more shared printers are also more digitally engaged. A greater number of these respondents say their companies encourage the use of digital documents, use multiple screens, find reading onscreen easier, use more mobile devices than they used to, and are more environmentally conscious. Those that have centralized printers are more than twice as likely to say their company printers take too long to finish printing jobs.

6. Estimate the average distance an employee needs to walk to use a stand-alone printer/copier.

Printer placement is the most critical step in maximizing your cost savings. The InfoTrends data shows that poor allocation of office devices is a drain on corporate profits, wasting more than 4,000 hours and nearly $130,000 per year in long walks to and from copiers and printers. The solution? It’s simple—make sure you have one all-in-one printer within 25 to 30 feet of every workgroup.

The Clarus survey shows that trips to the printer can also be a significant drain on productivity. Non-work conversations at the printer are 98 percent more likely to result in stops at other colleagues' desks to chat about personal issues, but only 28 percent more likely to chat about work. In fact, 61 percent of employees have conversations at the copier/printer versus just 31 percent who have conversations at the water cooler. This wasted time could be costly to businesses across every department. You can easily mitigate these business losses with more appropriate device allocation.

Many companies overlook office devices when optimizing for cost and efficiency. If your company is like most, your printers may be too big, too far away, and too expensive. A balanced deployment strategy that results in right-sizing your printer fleet can help you save time and money, and it’s surprisingly easy to implement. And your IT team will be glad you are looking out for them, which will help you when you inevitably call them for help the next day.

Dan Waldinger is the director of services and solutions marketing at Brother International Corporation. With more than 25 years of industry experience, Waldinger leads the Brother initiative, Don’t Supersize. Optimize. Under his leadership, Brother provides resources, self-assessment tools and solutions for mid-size and large organizations to reduce document-related costs and increase efficiencies. 

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