Saving Money on Business Printing - Why Compatible Consumables are not the Answer

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. An over-used phrase perhaps, but in the case of cheap printer consumables, it could hardly be more relevant.

With the economy still struggling, chasing cheaper alternatives to consumables from the original printing equipment manufacturer may seem like a smart way for departments across the public sector to cut costs. However, in pursuing this approach, public sector organisations need to ensure that printer performance and quality are not compromised and warranties remain unaffected by this practice.

In reality, compatible consumables are unlikely to ever prove a good investment. In failing to meet the high technical demands of an individual printer’s hardware, these poor quality substitutes are likely to have a negative impact on performance and print output quality. Worse, they may impact significantly on the life expectancy of what is a costly and often business-critical piece of office equipment, by increasing wear and tear and the need for related maintenance support.

The often substantial price savings which can be made on non-standard printer ribbons and toner cartridges can seem seductive.  However, the ultimate victim is inevitably the end-user, who will not be getting the bargain they imagined. The truth is that, far from being a mere marketing slogan, ‘original is best’ is the route to go for any user looking to achieve optimum performance and print quality.

Why Smarter Printing is the Answer
Equally, there is no reason for organisations to be seduced by the possibility of cost savings on print consumables when there are many other ways they can save money through changing their approach to printing.

A recent report by leading economics consultancy, the centre for economics and business research (cebr) has found that firms and other organisations could save between £900 million and £2,100 million per year on printing costs by adopting smarter printing practices. The report estimates that public administration and defence alone could potentially achieve annual cost savings of £213 million, equivalent to covering the annual council tax of 155,134 band D homes at an average of £1,373.

Indeed, achieving this kind of enhanced efficiency is likely to be particularly beneficial to the public sector, which typically focuses on efficiency and cost savings. Such organisations find that they can quickly reduce wastage and costs by simply reducing the number of expensive outsourced printing jobs they undertake and by using their office printers more effectively.

In doing this, they need to change their mindset and understand that a large percentage of printing, previously the domain of outsourced print shops, can now be carried out quickly and cost-effectively by staff using their own printer. Thanks to advances in print technology, organisations can now print a much broader range of documents in-house, including letterheads, notices, reports, forms and labels.

By using high-quality in-house solutions, public sector organisations will see an immediate impact both on the overall cost of their printing and their levels of wastage. Simply by bringing more print jobs in-house, they can eliminate over-runs and by raising the level of ‘right first time’ printouts, reduce the need to repeat work.

Organisations can achieve additional savings by adopting smarter printing practices. Much of this involves a process of educating users to reduce paper wastage. Users can save on resources by following the ‘think before your print’ guideline and never printing emails simply to read them, for example. They can be trained to cut paper wastage further by always using print preview, for example, or by using a web print utility to ensure each web page fits on one side of paper.

It is also important to ensure that printers are correctly set up to minimise time and paper wastage. Using ‘mono’ when documents don’t need to be in colour, ‘duplex’ for double sided printing and creating A5 booklets with multiple images on each sheet could save an average public sector department thousands of pounds every year in ink, toners, paper and time, while at the same time, enabling them to deliver a better service.

Of course as they look to the future, public sector organisations need to remain receptive to new ideas and approaches - new ways of driving efficiencies from smarter printing practices. Today, we are also seeing growing interest in total managed print services (MPS) as a means of purchasing printers, supplies, maintenance and support in one all-inclusive contract, allowing organisations to potentially reduce both capital investment and ongoing printing costs.

Making the Right Choices
It is understandable that the public sector will look to save money by adopting a new approach to business printing. However, there is no reason why it should aim to achieve this by buying in compatible consumables. Not only will this compromise quality and performance it is also likely to reduce the product lifecycle. Instead, organisations need to drive savings by focusing more on in-house printing and adopting smarter, more efficient printing practices, helping to cut costs and reduce wastage and put themselves on a firmer footing as the economy begins the long, slow process of recovery.

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