Estimating Printing Costs for Business Organizations

Unmanaged printing expenses add up. For commercial office managers, these costs can represent a significant portion of their total unreported costs.

When these unreported costs remain hidden, it is impossible to appropriately budget for them. Many office managers simply guess and hope that their estimate is good enough to keep the print fleet running until the next quarter.

This approach will never generate value or improve efficiency in the office. In order to proactively reduce printing costs, office managers have to implement processes for estimating printing costs effectively.

Estimating Printing Costs by Calculating Cost-Per-Print

Office managers often estimate printing costs by calculating their cost per print and multiplying that figure by the number of prints per month. At first glance, this seems like a reasonable way to identify print costs, but it leaves a number of important costs out of the equation.

Calculating cost per page usually involves subtracting the cost of printing supplies. Where the majority of office managers go wrong is believing that printing supplies are the only supplemental costs involved in the process. That isn’t true – there are multiple cost factors that managers must take into consideration:

  • Equipment Costs. If you purchased your print equipment, this cost should be reflected in the average cost-per-page calculation. If you lease your office equipment, you should include the lease rate in the calculation.
  • Supply Costs. Toner cartridges, inkjet cartridges, paper, staples, and finishing media all count as print supplies. Most office managers will include them in the cost-per-print calculation.
  • Service Costs. Maintenance agreements and one-time service calls all factor into the cost of printing documents. Better equipment and higher quality maintenance can reduce these preventable costs.
  • Burden Rates. The most significant print costs are intangible – employee time spent ordering supplies, printer downtime due to insufficient supplies, and process downtime due to equipment under repair.
  • Page Coverage. Office managers need to accurately gauge cartridge yield according to document coverage. Text-based documents may cover only 20% of the page with printed material, while photographs and marketing documents can easily cover 100% of the page.

While some of these costs are easy to determine, service costs and burden rates can be challenging to pin down to a specific figure. Nevertheless, they play an important role in estimating printing costs effectively.

Office managers who identify these costs can then divide the price of each print cartridge by its stated yield. For color prints, managers must calculate each color individually and add black as well – quadrupling print cost right at the start.

Equipment costs should incorporate the number of usable years the equipment is designed for and estimate the number of pages per year it can reliably output. The key to accurately estimating burden rates is accurately calculating the hourly rate of the employees who most often spend time on print-related auxiliary tasks – if these are IT specialists, costs rise dramatically.

Strategies to Cut Costs and Improve Productivity

Business organizations that go through the process of estimating printing costs accurately are likely to be surprised with the result. Often, a combination of in-house and outsourced solutions represents the best value for reducing these costs.

  • Reduce Print Volume. Examine routine workflows and determine if print output actually generates value. Printing adds value to certain processes, but it is redundant for many others – a comprehensive print policy can help enforce this distinction.
  • Force Monochrome Prints. Set office printers to automatically print in black and white. If necessary, establish administrator privileges for color prints – they can cost up to ten times more.
  • Track Prints by User. Print tracking software can help managers identify the most wasteful print users in the office. Often, reducing print access for a handful of high-volume users is all it takes to dramatically reduce overall print costs for the organization.
  • Implement Managed Print Services. Office Technologies’ managed print service program can help organizations reduce their print costs by up to 30%. Outsource the management of your print fleet to a reputable managed service vendor and free your employees from print-related tasks.

Managed Print Savings Begin with Assessment

Estimating printing costs is a useful way to gauge the general costs of printing in the office environment. Managed print service vendors like Office Technologies take the process one step further. Instead of calculating an estimate, our team installs software that collects data on print usage over a period of time.

Once we have enough data, our analysts generate comprehensive reports that show exactly how much our customers are paying for every page they print. We can then start working on specific solutions to productivity and efficiency problems using that data, and implement them to optimize efficiency throughout the entire office.

The first step towards controlling hyperinflated print costs is performing an accurate print assessment. Have our team conduct an assessment at your office today!