UK businesses still struggling to control print costs

Printing costs are still out of control in the majority of businesses according to a new survey commissioned by Oki Systems UK.

Its survey of decision-makers, including finance managers and directors, office managers, CIOs and IT managers reveals that 52% don’t know how much they are spending on printing – and this figure rises to 66% for businesses at the larger end of the SME spectrum.


Forward looking predictions of paperless offices are wide of the mark as well, with the poll revealing that the 44% of SMEs who are aware of their printing overheads spend over £10,000 a year, with 47% of them printing more than a standard size box of paper per week. Equally startling is that those SMEs who understand their costs and acknowledge their print volumes also believe that much of their printing is superfluous and that it contributes to a lack of cost control – 39% say that their company is overspending because of unnecessary printing by employees.

At the same time, there is also evidence that workflows are becoming increasingly electronic; 85% of those polled are using multifunction devices (MFDs) with 65% of the total sample using them to manage documents. But even here, inefficiencies creep into the day-to-day running of the business, with some 30% of companies with 500-1,000 employees claiming the devices actually hinder the workflow.

“If a growing number of companies are deploying MFDs with functions such as scan-to-email which cut down the number of times a document needs to be printed, yet they still believe that much of the printing that goes on is unnecessary, they need to examine their processes and audit their print fleet carefully,” says Andrew Hall, marketing manager, OKI.

“It’s a worrying finding that even after the economic climate of the past few years, when businesses have been forced to tightly control their costs, so many companies are still unaware of how much they spend on print, or even how much they print.”

“Evidence shows that working with a managed print services provider can help small to medium sized businesses take charge of their print costs, removing it as an unknown expense and enable a more efficient workflow at the same time.”

Opportunities to save

Despite their worries about unnecessary printing the survey also highlights how many businesses are missing out on ways to use the latest print technology to save money. Some 41% (rising to 61% among 100 – 249 employee sized companies) outsource the printing of simple items like business cards and/or other stationery, despite the fact that this is now simple to do in-house using graphic arts printers alongside downloadable templates.

“Print technology has rapidly developed,” continues Hall. “Printing high quality documents and marketing collateral in-house has never been more straightforward and with the right printers in place, will drive down outsourcing costs and increase flexibility for businesses.”

“Particularly in dynamic industries like retail or travel, where fast-moving promotions might need to be implemented, the ability to create quality collateral in-house could be pivotal to business success.”

However, OKI’s latest survey does show that progress is being made in mobile and remote printing. Overall, 39% of respondents said that they were able to print from mobile devices and there was evidence to suggest that smaller and mid-range businesses have been faster to adopt these devices; 44% of organisations in the 100 – 249 category and 47% in the 250 – 499 could print this way. Larger organisations, with bigger, remote workforces, recognise the value of being able to capitalise on such technology, with 86% of respondents to the poll in businesses sized 500-1,000 suggesting mobile printing would make an impact on their company.

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