Almost a year ago I partnered with Government Technology to survey government agencies about their print environments.  At the time, nearly 80% of those surveyed acknowledged that they could not track all printing and imaging related costs.  I’ve just seen the preliminary results to our latest survey, and while progress has been made, the majority of IT managers still admit to being unable to measure their total print costs. 


Why is measuring the costs of a print environment so challenging?  Print costs are fragmented, rarely quantified in full, and are often split between different departments so no single group feels the full impact of total costs.  Left unmanaged, this can result in both excessive costs for the organization and a negative eco footprint in terms of maintenance, electricity, paper, toner, and ink.  I can certainly appreciate the challenges for IT of benchmarking an organizations print environment — especially if they are trying to undertake the task themselves!  However, in an economy where business and government agencies alike need to drive down costs there’s no getting around the fundamental truth that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”


However, the biggest cost to an organization of an unmanaged print environment may be the opportunity cost of failing to implement holistic efficiencies and workflow solutions.  For example, holistic rules-based print controls could include automatic 2-sided printing, reductions in costs of color printing, better utilization of more efficient devices, etc.  I previously blogged about Merck, and how they dramatically reduced their print costs through managed print services.  The Director of Global Client Services Delivery, Drew Pawlak stated that “Implementing a managed print solution is just the beginning.  It creates a foundation that enables reductions in waste, introduces new business capabilities, and streamlines workflow processes.” 


So how does an organization gain control over their print environment.  It must start with an assessment of their current environment.  An assessment will identify devices on and off the network and overworked or underutilized devices that need to be relocated, removed, or replaced with the right devices to optimize the print environment.  An assessment can also help identify other potential risks to the organization, such as print security vulnerabilities.  The information from the assessment provides the benchmark from which to measure forward progress and cost savings.  It also provides the information needed to develop a print strategy to meet an organizations specific needs for cost management, green IT, mobile printing and secure printing solutions.


Working with a partner that specializes in print management is probably the most practical way to get started with an assessment of your print environment.  At HP we even offer a guarantee – the Printing Payback Guarantee.  We’ll cut your printing costs or pay you back (or credit you the difference for Gov agencies).  This is how we do it.  We’ll study your organization and assess its particular needs, and project your savings.  If your organization doesn’t reach those savings within 12 months after implementation, we’ll make up the difference.  Visit our Payback Guarantee site, call 800-727-5472, or talk with your HP representative to learn more.