Sunday, 18 January 2009

Controlling our use of printers

Added by Mandy Shaw, about 1 year ago.

Today I want to talk about something we all do regularly, at work and at home. We don't necessarily think about it much, but it is quite possibly costing us unnecessary money, wasting time and using unnecessary environmental resources.

For anyone kind enough to be reading this, here are some questions (you may have answers to them all already, in which case please do ignore me and/or add a comment with your views and experiences).

What do you print?

You've probably got three main types of printing going on in your organisation: printing that is essential to the business process (labels, invoices, formal letters, warehouse pick lists), ad-hoc printing of Word documents etc., and report printing.

Do you need to print all that stuff?

Who looks at the reports? Do they need all the pages? Could your applications generate reports more intelligently? Could you split up your spooled reports before they are printed?

People frequently print documents for distribution because they don't want the recipient to be able to edit them, and/or because they want to be sure what the document is going to look like when it reaches its destination. Do you give people the ability to print to a PDF file instead of a printer? (We use PrimoPDF - see

How and where do you print it?

Do you know how many printers you have and what they're costing you? Do people use expensive colour printers when they don't need to? Do they insist on personal printers for privacy reasons? Do people print double-sided whenever they can?

Do you use pre-printed forms? If so, what happens to your stock when a change is required?

What happens when there's a problem with the printer?

Does your printing subsystem tell you when there's been a problem? Can you reprint a job starting at a particular page? Can the absence, or duplication, of printed output cause problems in the business process?

How do you file your output?

Do you file paper copies, or archive softcopy? Why do you do this? How long does it take you to retrieve a copy on request? Is this an acceptable amount of time? Is this matter covered in your business continuity strategy?

Over the years we have been asked for solutions in all these areas, but, frankly, not very often. I honestly don't know whether this is a topic of general concern or not - I would be grateful for your comments.

This article on 'IT Going Green' is well worth reading, incidentally:

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