Using Print Analytics & Reporting to Gain Business Insights & Control Costs

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Optimizing your bottom line is about more than just sales and revenue. Enterprises today have many options, including leveraging print analytics and reporting to enhance processes and cut costs. 


Although print analytics is still in its infancy, there are already enormous opportunities to perform highly accurate cross-organizational analytics and benchmarking. Optimizing print environments starts with a professional assessment and analysis.


What Is Print Cost Analysis?


Print cost analysis is critical to managing inventory, such as office supplies and expenses. The primary objective is to understand print-related costs, inefficiencies, and excessive expenses and make data-driven decisions. 


In this scenario, organizations can determine the actual office printing costs by calculating the average cost per page for black and white or color printing. Furthermore, print cost analysis often works in tandem with print analytics tools to gather, process, and interpret data for informed decision-making.


Print analytics tools provide the raw data, while print cost analysis translates that data into actionable insights and cost-saving strategies. They empower organizations to manage their print environments more efficiently, control costs, and improve overall productivity.


Businesses can be surprised by what they learn when they adopt print cost analytics. For instance, organizations might learn that high-end laser printers, which require a higher capital investment, often print pages for less than the cost of inkjet printers. As such, it's one of the only ways to know the actual cost of enterprise printing operations.


How Does Print Cost Analysis Work?


Step 1: Collect Print Data 


Before we can engage in print cost analytics, we have to know what data to collect and how to use it. With the help of cutting-edge tools, enterprises can drill down on the data and parse it in many different ways. However, you will need to know what variables to monitor. In this scenario, a Managed Services Provider (MSP) offering print management solutions can help. They can also explain insights related to volumes, paper usage, ink and toner consumption, maintenance costs, and more.


Step 2: Process Print Data


After collecting all this data, it will be processed, analyzed, and organized into meaningful insights. For example, the print cost analysis tools will calculate the total cost of printing, cost per page, and other relevant metrics and display them visually. But to get to this stage, the MSP offering Managed Print Solutions (MPS) may have to categorize expenses and identify cost drivers.


For example, some of the fundamental insights derived from a print cost analysis will include: 


A Breakdown of Printing Costs


The print analysis breaks down printing costs into different categories. These include:

  •     Hardware costs
  •     Energy consumption costs 
  •     Consumables (ink, toner, paper)
  •     Maintenance and repairs
  •     Managed print service fees




Identifying areas of inefficiency or waste within the print environment is key to cutting costs and boosting productivity.


A print cost analysis will closely evaluate the following:

  •     Unnecessary or wasteful printing
  •     Underutilized devices
  •     Outdated equipment
  •     Excessive color printing (when grayscale would suffice)


Cost Allocation


A print cost analysis can also allocate printing costs to different departments within the organization. This approach goes a long way to ensure accountability and allocate expenses accurately.


Step 3: Simplify and Accelerate Decision-Making


Once organizations are armed with valuable insights about their print environment, it's time for action. These insights will provide a 360-degree view of your print environment with dashboards and reporting. This information will enable quick, smart decision-making on asset allocation and printer optimization.


Step 4: Identify Opportunities to Cut Costs and Make Them a Reality


In-depth print cost analytics reports highlight print behaviors, usage patterns, device efficiencies, potential vulnerabilities, and more. This approach helps organizations better understand their print environment and identify opportunities to access savings.


A Print Cost Analysis Report Will Provide the Following Insights


Standard insights available in a print cost analysis are as follows:


Total Printing Costs


The report will break down the total print-related costs. For example, the annual cost of printing could add up to $150,000 a year (this includes hardware, consumables, energy expenses, and maintenance).


Cost per Page


A print cost analysis report will highlight the average cost per printed page. This figure will be calculated based on factors such as printer type, color usage, and consumables. For example, organizations may find that the average cost per page is $0.05 for black-and-white and $0.15 for color printing.


Device Utilization


Are you getting a maximum return on investment on your printers and copiers? The utilization rate data of each printer or copier will help identify opportunities for optimization. For example, the report might highlight that Printer A is heavily used at 95% capacity, while Printer B is underutilized at only 38% capacity. Such insights can help organizations strategize and distribute printing workloads more evenly between printers.


Consumables Usage


Data on ink, toner, and paper consumption helps enterprises manage their printing resources better. For example, if toner consumption increased in the last quarter by 18%, it could indicate the need for more efficient toner management.


Energy Consumption


Insights into energy usage will highlight which printers and copiers demand the most energy. For example, it's no secret that color laser printers consume significantly more energy than other devices, increasing operational costs. However, as certain laser printers consume more energy than others, MPS providers can recommend more energy-efficient options to manage workloads. 


Departmental Printing Costs


Print cost analysis reports also break down printing costs by department or cost center. For example, marketing departments will use color laser printers more than others, accounting for 40% of the total expenses. As such, this presents an opportunity to recalculate marketing campaign budgets. 


Print Volumes


Similarly, print cost analysis reports can also break down the data on the number of pages each user or department printed. For example, user X in HR consistently prints the highest number of pages, averaging 2,000 pages per month. By better understanding what they are printing and finding digital alternatives, departments can better manage their resources. 


Color vs. Black-and-White Printing


When enterprises compare the cost of color printing and black-and-white printing, color printouts will always cost more. By pouring over the insights, organizations can identify opportunities to access potential savings by reducing color printing across the organization.


Duplex Printing Rate


Businesses can also better understand the percentage of double-sided (duplex) printing. For example, if only 25% of print jobs are duplex, the report will highlight an opportunity to encourage more sustainable printing practices.


Device Health


Data on maintenance and repair costs helps organizations plan and ensure business continuity. For example, if Printer C has incurred $500 in maintenance costs in the last six months, it might be an excellent time to plan for its replacement.


Printing Policies and Compliance


Data on adherence to printing policies will help ensure that employees consistently follow printing best practices. For example, those violating duplex printing policies can lose their printing privileges.  


Environmental Impact


Data on paper consumption and environmental impact can help organizations adopt a sustainable office printing approach. For example, cost-saving measures can help save 100 trees and reduce carbon emissions by 15%. Companies can also plant trees to offset paper consumption levels. 


Cost Reduction Recommendations


Print cost analysis reports can come with recommendations for reducing printing costs. For instance, the report may recommend implementing duplex printing by default and consolidating underutilized printers, which can add up to an annual savings of $15,000.


Budget Allocation


Data is key to accurate and adequate budget allocation. For example, enterprises can adjust their budgets based on actual usage patterns, optimizing resource allocation.


Security Risks


Print analytics can also help identify potential security risks. For example, unclaimed print jobs containing sensitive information are at risk of violating compliance regulations and must be dealt with immediately. 


Progress toward Goals


Organizations with printing or cost-cutting goals can track their progress with insights in the report. For example, it may show a 10% reduction in printing costs since implementing cost-saving measures.


These insights provide a comprehensive 360-degree view of the organization's print environment. As such, it powers informed decision-making, implements cost-saving measures, and aligns printing practices with their objectives. The format of the insights found in print cost analysis reports may vary depending on the specific print analytics tools and reporting systems leveraged by the organization.


Key Benefits of Performing a Print Cost Analysis


There are several benefits to engaging in print cost analysis. The most important advantages include:


Cost Savings


Saving money is often the primary objective for most businesses that initiate a print cost analysis. By understanding where printing costs originate, enterprises can confidently make informed decisions to reduce waste and unnecessary expenses. However, organizations may have to consolidate devices, implement duplex printing, and optimize print workflows to achieve this.


Environmental Impact


Paper, toner, ink, and electricity can add to an organization's carbon footprint. Conserving paper, energy, and consumables will positively impact the business' bottom line and the environment. 


Data-Driven Decision Making


Data-driven decision-making is key to making smart print-related investments, policy changes, and resource allocation. So, companies must strive to collect and use available data whenever possible.


Print cost analysis often works hand-in-hand with print analytics tools and other software platforms within enterprise IT infrastructure. Designed to monitor and collect data from printers and multifunction devices, these tools will provide real-time or historical data on print volumes, device usage, and more with just a click. 


However, what do you do with all these insights? How do you use it? In this case, an MPS can leverage their expertise and experience to recommend action plans to initiate changes.


What Are Managed Print Services (MPS)?


Managed Printing Services help businesses of all sizes manage their print fleet efficiently. For example, companies that partner with an established MPS provider can optimize workflows and document output, quickly replace failing hardware, and more to minimize downtime while optimizing potential cost savings.


MPS providers achieve this by leveraging cutting-edge tools that help them closely monitor and analyze how an organization uses printing devices and copiers and manages its inventory. By collecting and analyzing data, the experts at an MPS provider can identify and rectify potential issues and find ways to optimize overall efficiency. 


They can also help organizations find printer security risks and mitigate them before they open the door to a cyberattack. An MPS provider will also review current printing best practices, advise on possible improvements, and implement customized solutions to optimize your printing environment.


By outsourcing the printer management and all print-related tasks, enterprises can benefit from cost savings on toner cartridges, ink cartridges, printer paper, and energy costs. MSPs that offer MPS often use print management software to monitor all organization printers closely, including network printers and print servers.


Some of these print management and analytics tools include FMAudit software, Kyocera Fleet Services, and RICOH Intelligent Support.


What Is the Role of Printer Usage Tracking Software?


Print loggers and printer monitoring software can be invaluable for controlling printing costs. It can provide detailed metrics on print volume, break them down by department and specific document names, and highlight potential opportunities to cut back. With real-time notifications and reports, these software solutions can also pinpoint issues such as paper jams and low toner levels, enabling quick resolutions.


What Is FMAudit?


FMAudit software protocols gather data from network printers and multifunction devices. This data helps organizations gain valuable insights into print volumes, usage patterns, and equipment performance. For example, FMAudit can track information such as the number of pages printed, the types of documents printed, and the status of consumables like toner and paper.


FMAudit offers a suite of managed print solutions that concentrate on every aspect of print tracking. It's designed to work seamlessly with the Microsoft .NET platform. As such, it will integrate into enterprise IT infrastructures easily.


By collecting and analyzing this data, organizations can make more informed decisions about their print infrastructure, reduce waste, and reduce print-related costs. FMAudit also empowers MPS providers to streamline their clients' print-related operations, improve efficiency, and (of course) cut costs.


FMAudit enables two-way communication between dispatch systems and accounting protocols, which helps streamline business processes and eliminate unnecessary costs. This includes overheads related to service deployment, supply reorder processing, purchasing, meter billing, and MPS assessment and reporting.


What Is Kyocera Fleet Services?


Kyocera Fleet Services helps MPS providers make the most of available resources and optimize print fleets to ensure that printers are always available when needed. This approach allows print infrastructure experts to access real-time insights, conduct remote diagnostics, and evaluate the performance of each device. 


Kyocera Fleet Services plays a key role in reducing downtime, improving user experiences, and keeping software updated (remotely during off-peak hours). This means that enterprise IT staff can focus on more important tasks while the MSP handles the rest. As such, this secure cloud-based solution enhances operational efficiency and overall productivity.


What Is RICOH Intelligent Support?


MPS providers leverage a collection of smart tools, such as RICOH Intelligent Support tools, to get instant access to customer service and support. These tools help organizations benefit from timely updates, alerts, real-time remote service, and automated and self-help tools. MPS providers also have various options for troubleshooting multifunction printers to keep operations running smoothly and efficiently.


How Can a Managed Print Services (MPS) Provider Improve Enterprise Print Analytics and Reporting?


MSPs offering managed printer services leverage cutting-edge tools and technologies (like the ones listed above) to optimize print analytics and reporting protocols. By using the latest print technologies, they gain in-depth insights and find opportunities to control costs. 


Some of the ways MPS providers use tools to do this are as follows:


Comprehensive Assessment


MPS will work closely with you and initiate a thorough analysis of the current enterprise print environment. In this scenario, various print analytics tools will collect data on all aspects of printing operations. This includes the number of printing devices operating within a print environment, print volume, consumables usage, and current expenses. The idea here is to use this data as a baseline to implement improvements and access cost savings.


Fleet Optimization


The MPS will analyze the collected data to identify underutilized printers and recommend a more efficient fleet configuration. They will also highlight printers that are costly to run and suggest potential alternatives. For example, it may involve replacing several small, inefficient printers with a smaller number of multifunction printers that lower the cost-per-page and provide better energy efficiency.


Inventory Management


Organizations can streamline the supply chain by closely monitoring and analyzing the usage patterns of toner and ink cartridges. For example, companies can leverage just-in-time inventory management by predicting when printers will run out of ink, reducing potential downtime, and eliminating excess inventory that can lead to wastage.


Proactive Maintenance


Print analytics help IT teams track device health and usage patterns and help organizations understand when a printer is likely to need maintenance. This proactive approach prevents potential breakdowns that can disrupt workflows and result in unexpected costs.


Implementation and Enforcement of Policies


MPS providers can help companies establish print policies to control costs. For example, new printing policies can enforce duplex printing, limit color printing, and require secure authentication for sensitive documents. Whenever organizations formulate print policies based on print analytics and reporting, they can ensure compliance by making adjustments based on actual usage and needs.


User Behavior and Adaptation


By analyzing who prints what, where, and how often, print analytics tools can highlight opportunities to change printing habits. Companies can do this in phases, department by department, team by team.


By implementing end-user-level policies such as print quotas, MPS providers can encourage more responsible printer and copier usage. This can take the form of sending large jobs to high-efficiency printers or reducing unnecessary printing.


Enhanced Security and Compliance


Print analytics software also tracks the lifecycle of every document printed across the organization. Why is this important? Tracking printed documents is important to secure sensitive information, including customer data and trade secrets. Secure printing protocols can ensure that documents are only accessible to authorized end-users, ensuring compliance with data protection regulations.


Minimize Environmental Impact


Print analytics and reporting arms businesses with the information they need to reduce their environmental footprint. Companies can access cost savings by reducing paper waste, optimizing energy usage, and managing recycling programs for consumables while meeting their sustainability goals.


Regular Reporting and Continuous Improvement


Printing analytics is not a "set-it-and-forget-it" solution. Regular reporting keeps enterprises aware of their current printing operations and costs. These reports help MPS providers consult with clients, recommend further improvements, and adjust printing strategies as business needs evolve.


Integration with Business Systems


As print analytics and reporting tools often integrate with other business systems, organizations can benefit from taking a centralized management approach. This method provides a clearer picture of overall operational costs and contributes to broader business insights and decision-making.


MPS providers build dynamic and responsive print environments by leveraging print analytics and reporting. This data-driven approach sets the foundation for businesses to adapt to changing demands, further optimize operations continuously, and control costs more effectively.


As more businesses engage in digital transformation, print management solutions are evolving into cloud-based solutions. This approach helps organizations monitor printing activity from anywhere on the planet. This is critical to print tracking across both onsite and offsite remote workstations. The ability to monitor the printer status in real-time can be handy for businesses with multiple locations. 


Final Thoughts on Print Analytics and Reporting


Businesses that leverage tools such as a printing cost calculator and take advantage of print audits can uncover potential inefficiencies and help enterprises re-evaluate their printing infrastructure. Companies will be better placed to gain in-depth insights into their print jobs, paper cost, and overall print quality by examining paper size, page yield, and ink or toner usage.


Print analytics and reporting are critical to optimizing operations and boosting productivity in the modern digitized world. With valuable insights into their print operations, organizations can exert more control over costs and benefit from more informed decision-making. The right strategy can help any business make the most of its print environment by better managing inventory and reducing per-page expenses.

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Categories: Document Management, Document Imaging, Business Process Management, Strategy, MPS, IT Management, Copier, Printer, Network, Imaging, IT, Assessment, Kyocera

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