The “Secret Sauce” of Creating Print Policies in Your Organization

Print isn’t what it used to be. I remember the days when co-workers would print emails (both sent and received), favorite recipes found online, NCAA brackets… whatever. If a printer was nearby, chances were likely it was heavily used for all sorts of reasons. There were few reservations from printing whatever hit the monitor and no one ever considered the cost of print. At least, not anyone in my area of the building.

Fast forward to a floundering economy in 2008. Suddenly, all common office luxuries were scrutinized and evaluated as a potential cut or reduction to generate savings. I remember the “Print Gestapo” posting signs warning against personal printing or printing unnecessary images that can remain digital such as email or documents. Our offices became good at sneaking print or making prints look important by adding a balance sheet to the front and back of a bracket or recipe print. Boy, were we good at disguising things. No one ever knew. The cost of print remained relatively steady and the organization had to find other areas to tighten. The Ghettos of Print were a well-run industry. Print isn’t what it used to be.

I’d bet that some of this sounds familiar to many of us. I would even go on a limb and suggest that some of these “Print Ghettos” are still in business and perhaps even monitored by the Print Gestapo. Policies to control the cost of print may be as simply crafted as warning posters above the printers instructing users what kinds of print are acceptable: only mono print, all prints must be duplexed, no personal print allowed. How are policies enforced? Is every user aware of a policy implemented? Does your organization even have a print policy?

It is estimated that the average employee uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year.1 According to a study conducted by Citigroup and Environmental Defense, the true cost of print is 13 to 31 times the price of the paper used, which is roughly between $.06 and $.13 per page. 2 Let’s extrapolate some numbers here and show that using these numbers, the average employee is adding anywhere from $600 to $1,300 to the bottom line of cost of doing business.

So, what exactly is your organization printing? How in the world can we shine a light on these “Print Ghettos” and begin to shut them down bringing order and responsibility to a possibly chaotic and uncontrolled environment? Many partners may bring a solution touting proactive supply management or proactive service monitoring, but those solutions only fuel the fire and do nothing to either control volume or encourage responsible print. Some partners may propose a new fleet of workgroup devices to replace an existing fleet better-prepared to handle secure print. This solution is extreme if new hardware is not necessary nor warranted.

As a way to uncover user-level print data, consider a partner capable of performing an analysis of print at the user-level. Who is printing what and where? How? When? Once we know the answers to those questions, we can begin to shift user behavior using a rules-based software to create and enforce a custom print policy that makes sense to your organizational culture. Create soft rules informing users of the cost of each print job. Offer pop-ups suggesting users printing from prepare their favorite dish to share with the office. Cheer on your favorite NFL quarterback through a pop-up if a print job originates from Once an organization is aware print is now being watched and monitored, behavior will begin to change, thereby reducing your cost of doing business. Print isn’t what is used to be.

1 Copy This! Results of the Citigroup-Environmental Defense Partnership to Improve Office Paper Management (New York: Citigroup and Environmental Defense, November 2004)
2 Copy This!

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts

Buy to Give Back

What if you could sell products that do more than simply support a cause or promote a brand? We’ve all received a promotional item to