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Print cost control with charging and quotas: save money and reduce waste

Cost-cutting is everywhere nowadays. Sometimes it’s done well, and organizations become more efficient. Other times it ends up harming productivity. The best type of cost cutting is the type that people don’t notice, and that doesn’t reduce service value. Enter print cost reduction…

Print cost management can be one of those magic wands. You wave it at the business and – voila! – print workflow becomes easier, productivity improves, and costs also go down. In this article, we’re going to look at how to save print costs with two things: charging and quotas.

Where do the majority of print costs come from?   

Paper usage and cartridges are the obvious culprits, but you must think broader than that. What about your team’s printing habits? Are they printing unnecessary documents? Do they often print errors, and need to print a second time? Are they using duplex printing?

This is the world of print cost management: looking at your entire print ecosystem, trying to figure out what’s working, and where the leaks are.

Introducing print charging

Print charging is a print cost management strategy where users basically pay for their printing up-front. This won’t work for every print environment, obviously, but it’s a great way to incentivize more responsible printing. Especially in educational settings, like schools and universities.

Color printing and grayscale  – With the right print management software, like PaperCut NG and Papercut MF , you can charge different amounts for color or black-and-white printing. This helps cut down on expensive color cartridges and toners.

Duplex printing – Want to encourage duplex or double-sided printing? Use your PaperCut print management software to charge different amounts for duplex or simplex print jobs.

Copies and scans  – You can use charging to cut down on unnecessary copies and scans. As the old saying goes, “If you give students something for free, they’ll abuse it.” Stamp down on wasteful copying by applying a financial disincentive.

With shared accounts, you can also allocate printing costs to ’things’. If we take projects as an example, you can set up Project Venues, and if you have Mario, Claire, and Sam all working on that project, they can charge the print jobs to that project. Maybe you have people who work on multiple projects at once? They’ll be able to select an account or project either when they first print the job, or later at the MFD.

Not only does this mean you can see where these costs are going, it also means you can pass those costs on to clients, customers, or individual departments where appropriate. More ownership of the true cost of printing by each department suddenly means that it’s not just an invisible cost that central IT takes care of.

Print quotas are simply a way to restrict the number of print jobs for an individual user. They can be used on their own, or in conjunction with print charging. And, speaking anecdotally, we’ve seen some great results in this space: many of our educational customers, in particular, have reduced their printing costs by up to 75% by introducing a combination of quotas and charging.  

Here’s one such customer story that you can read!

Read case study

Good habits  – Print quotas are great for K-12 settings, as they teach kids responsibility, sustainability, and the value of money.

Use it or lose it – With PaperCut, you can refresh print quotas based on certain dates. This stops people hoarding print jobs and creating bottlenecks at busy times.

Get creative – Think of print quotas as currency, and suddenly there’s a world of opportunity out there. We’ve had several clients encourage library book returns, for example, by deducting print quotas for every day the book is late.

Credit transfer – Don’t think you’ll use up all your credits this year? No worries. With PaperCut, users can potentially transfer their printing quotas to someone else. Great for group projects.

Want to institute print quotas in your organization? It couldn’t be easier. Check out our manual for setting up quota allocations .

Other print cost reduction strategies

Quotas and chargebacks not quite right for your business? There are literally dozens of ways to implement print cost savings. Here are a few good ones we’ve found over the years.

Find-Me Printing  – With Find-Me Printing , you can have a single MFD per floor, rather than a bunch of small printers all over the place. It’s good for catching print errors at the MFD, too.

Change behavior  – Use print scripting to change user behavior. For example, you could strongly discourage the printing of emails, or color printing.

Give them a nudge  – Even if you don’t institute print quotas or charging, you can use print scripting to nudge your users to save costs. Maybe a pop-up that says, “Would you like to convert this 100-page job to duplex?”

Use a print room  – For large businesses and organizations, it’s usually worth setting up a print room . Systems can be established to intercept large jobs, saving time and money.

Print cost reduction is as much about creativity and psychology as it is about paper and ink. Try and use all the tools at your disposal to incentivize your team to print smarter. Print management software, like PaperCut, can make this job much easier, but there’s no substitute for communication and creativity.

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