Printer Buying Guide: FAQ

Your guide to choosing the best printing hardware and services for your small or medium business

Every enterprise owns, and regularly replaces, printers, copiers, multifunctional products and fax machines. The problem most face is not too few choices, but too many. How do you even begin to select the right one?

Here, in part one of Computerworld Ausralia's guide to buying a printer for the enterprise we present some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) when sourcing a print services for your business.

How do I get value when purchasing printers for my organisation?

It is all about meeting the needs of your organisation while still optimising resources to ensure your printer spend is cost effective. This is achieved by undertaking a thorough needs assessment. This type of planning is known as a Printer Fleet Optimisation (PFO) project. In recent years enterprises have moved more aggressively to rein in their runaway office printer and Multi Functional Product (MFP) fleets reducing costs by between 10 and 30 per cent, saving space and conserving power.

What should I consider in a fleet optimisation project?

Personal printers cost at least twice as much to own and operate as shared workgroup printers or multifunction products (MFPs). The supplies for a shared workgroup printer or MFP can be around two cents per page less, according to IT research firm Gartner. Similar disparities carry over to colour, but at several times the cost. Personal printers also increase power consumption, therefore, it is often better to use MFPs.

What about senior managers who claim they need personal printers for confidential documents?

Today’s workgroup printers and MFPs can hold confidential jobs until a designated person arrives at the printer. It is as simple as keying in a four digit code number of your choice when issuing a print job, then key in the same four digits on the printer keyboard to release the document. Many organisations now deploy pull printing solutions which enable users to swipe their ID card to view a list of print jobs they have issued before printing them out. As well as being secure these solutions can reduce page volumes by 10 per cent. The only time a personal printer is required is when it involves disabled workers or isolated locations such as a stockroom or home office.

How many different printer models should an organisation with around 5,000 staff have?

Gartner advises most organisations to reduce their standard models list to 12 or fewer. The best answer depends on where users are located and how much page volume can reasonably be consolidated into one printing location without walking too far (typically 10 to 25 metres). An enterprise might identify clusters of workers who sit near one another and can share the same equipment.

Does an enterprise need to replace all existing equipment to streamline the number of brands and models?

No. Keep some existing equipment by listing more than one model for each of your categories. Keep existing printers that fit into one of the categories you have created, if they are in good condition. Dispose of the printers that don’t fit, or are old and broken. Old printers have higher supply and repair costs even if they are still operable. Dispose of printers you do not need.

Why spend money on new printers and dispose of workable old ones?

The problem with owning many different printer models is keeping the right supplies in stock. Technical support is much easier with a few standard models. Keeping ageing printers until they are beyond repair tends to drive up service calls, and supplies also cost more. Over time the ageing printers accumulate.

Over the page: Is colour really necessary?

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