Making your office green

Image: Making your office green

There is more pressure than ever on businesses to operate in a greener capacity, not only from a regulatory perspective, but, with the rising price of energy, from a cost perspective too. However, despite what many may think, improving your company’s green credentials doesn’t need to be expensive, complicated or overly time consuming.

One of the key areas where businesses can reduce their power consumption, as well as waste output, is through their print and document infrastructure. While this is perhaps not the first area business owners would look to in order to reduce costs, an effective Managed Document Solutions (MDS) has the potential to bring some very appealing benefits with up to 40% savings in energy, a reduction in waste and lower management time, all of which are achievable for companies of all sizes.

So what do you need to know?

Let’s start with a definition. MDS is the term used to describe improving the efficiency and workflow of documents, ultimately providing greater visibility and control and reducing the volumes that a company prints, by introducing automated processes for documents. These changes in working practices enable organisations to become more effective, and ensures devices operate in a more efficient, centralised way, reducing the admin time required to manage the process. In a nutshell this is great news for businesses.

The first stage of any MDS roll out should be for business owners to look at whether they could benefit from a more efficient document infrastructure. A detailed site audit will determine your company’s ‘print and document behaviour’ very quickly. You’d be surprised at the number of business owners that have absolutely no idea of their print costs or outputs – and given what they are often spending, that’s surprising!

Factors to examine include whether you print in colour or black and white, what toner and paper volumes you get through, energy consumption per device, whether there are unclaimed prints on devices at the end of each day and whether devices are being utilised effectively. Even business processes around how documents are used should be analysed.

All of these will give you a picture of how efficient your company is when it comes to print and document management and help determine the best solution for your business.  Looking at how you track your print costs is also important. Print is often treated as a ‘hidden cost’ with purchases on an ad-hoc basis, and with toner and paper, even print equipment often paid for out of petty cash and not recorded as a variable business cost. That makes it even harder to get an accurate picture of your spend in this area and is often considerably more expensive than taking a structured MDS approach.

Now is the time to familiarise yourself with what technology is out there.

There are a wide variety of solutions available to help businesses manage their print costs. One key area where businesses can significantly reduce print output, as well as increasing security, is through a ‘pull-print’ environment, where any print jobs have to be authenticated at the device with a unique employee identification. Any jobs not claimed within a set timeframe are auto-deleted from the server, helping reduce the potential for staff to print unnecessary material, or print copies and then not claim them – the latter a potential security risk, as well as wasted paper and ink/toner.

If you have multiple print devices, then a ‘fleet management’ solution, such as our own ‘Optimise’ product can bring real benefits. It allows businesses to accurately track print fleet output and performance and efficiency across a company, ensuring all machines operate at their peak, and don’t cost more than they should. In addition, ordering print supplies – a process which can be expensive and time consuming – can be fully automated.

As well as choosing the right technologies, tackling ‘print behaviour’ as a business internally is also crucially important if you want to operate in a greener capacity. Persuading staff, who have previously had a printer on their desk, that they now have to share a central device, is often harder that it sounds.  However, by demonstrating the many benefits a new document infrastructure can bring, not to mention empowering the ‘green advocates’ within an organisation can be an effective means to tackle this.

While this is only scratching the surface, the first step for any business should be to seek advice from the professionals. With such dramatic cost and efficiency savings, many new document management solutions will pay for themselves within a year. Moving towards a greener business may be easier that you think.

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