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Understanding the Hidden Costs of Print

Do you know what the true costs of your office printing are? It’s not as obvious as it seems. In fact, there are so many factors involved, it can be difficult to make an accurate calculation for the total cost of ownership.

The Complexities Involved

Most companies don’t use a network reporting tool to manage their print technology. With multifunction devices, copiers, scanners, and desktop printers scattered throughout the office, it can be a difficult task to keep an accurate inventory and be able to track usage.

A third of companies don’t track overhead to have IT handle printing within their organization. IT resources are wasted on tasks they are not trained to do and for which they are overqualified.

Office space considerations are either ignored or forgotten. For instance, pre-multifunction printer devices have a larger footprint than newer devices. Supplies also tend to take up a lot of space, and oversupplies are often wasted. In part, this is because different brands and models require many different consumables. 

Power usage is difficult to calculate. Newer devices use less power, but many companies are using older, outdated and inefficient models.

Calculating the True Costs of Printing

Devices, Maintenance and Consumables

Most organizations only account for the obvious costs: hardware, maintenance, and the consumables, such as paper, ink, toner and drums. This is but a starting point, as these items only reflect 10% of the total cost of printing, or roughly 5 to 7 cents per page. 

What are the other costs involved? Let’s take a look at the other key factors involved.

IT Support and Infrastructure

Since IT staff are not trained on printers, supporting these devices is no small matter. End-user support, device management, output management, assessment, testing, training, managing servers and network communications, as wells as evaluating equipment for purchase are important aspects of supporting the print fleet.

IT infrastructure considerations include: network, servers, application programming and licenses, software and licensing. The more makes and models, the greater the complexity.

This is far from a comprehensive view of IT expenses, and only accounts for 2.5 to 3.5 cents, or 5% of the total cost of office printing.

Administration, Purchasing and Facilities Involvement

There are many costs connected to administration, purchasing and facilities involvement.

First, procurement and administration can be very time-consuming. Many organizations also make fragmented purchase decisions, meaning devices might be bought 

by IT, line of business managers, purchasing, and so on. If a single department is not handling buying decisions, not only are you going to end up with a lot of different devices, cost-tracking becomes even more difficult. High device variety of brands and products inevitably increases complexity as well.

When you also take into account product and service selection, internal requisitions, orders, contracts, billing, payables, RFPs, storage, restocking supplies, internal service delivery, inventory management, vendor relationship management, the cost of administration, purchasing and facilities involvement is on par with IT support and infrastructure at 2.5 to 3.5 cents or 5%.

Organizational Time Usage

Time usage is affected by end user production time, computer interaction, output equipment interactions, collection and finishing, problems, errors and mistakes.

This makes up an astounding 15 to 20 cents or 28% of the total cost of printing.

Document Management

Document management includes filing, storage, indexing, scanning, binding, folders, retrieval, postage, enveloping and distribution, mailroom, and waste disposal.

These are some of the highest costs at 25 to 33 cents or 47% of the total.

How to Optimize Office Printing Costs

Are you interested in optimizing the costs of your office printing? As you’re beginning to see, printing tends to be a major expense that flies under the radar, and one that deserves more of your attention and planning.

For many organizations, printing costs 15% of total revenue.

To get started, it’s best to have a complete, professional assessment of your print fleet by a reputable business technology company such as INNOVEX. Our analysis includes an inventory of machines, along with an overview of your contracts and leases, print volumes, color vs. black and white usage, and other actual print costs. You can talk to us about your business plans so that your future needs are also assessed and considered in the recommendations.

Recommendations will include optimized print environment, best practices, print controls (if necessary), document workflow, office space savings, and new technologies that make your business more efficient.


Assessing the true costs of your office printing is more complicated than one might initially think. 

Printing can be very expensive when it isn’t optimized. It is, therefore, necessary to reduce unnecessary equipment, consumable usage, IT involvement, and administration.

A print management assessment can help you create a plan to mitigate overhead and make your company more productive and cost-efficient.

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