Print services guideline
This guideline provides information and advice for Queensland Government departments to consider when implementing print services. Departments are strongly advised to further investigate these obligations considering their own business requirements and seeking advice where necessary.
This document is primarily intended for:
- chief executive officers (CEO)
- chief information officers (CIO)
- senior level officers responsible for the management and coordination of print services
- ICT policy staff.
The scope of this guideline pertains to the use of print devices in all government departments. As such, this scope of this guideline relates to all desktop printers, multi-function devices (MFD’s) and imaging devices.
The printing of various documentation and graphics is an integral part of government. It is used as a means of communication and dissemination of information both internally and externally.
The use of print services by departments was identified as a key area where significant savings can be realised through a relatively simple process. Industry research shows results regarding the savings that can be achieved from managing print services.
The management of a department’s print service investment throughout its lifecycle is the same as any other type of asset and includes planning and support for the investment through to retirement or replacement of the asset. The objective of asset lifecycle management is to streamline asset acquisition, optimise its use and reduce associated service and operational costs.
Management and coordination of print services
To ensure maximum cost savings are derived, it is important that a single senior level officer not only has ultimate responsibility for actively managing the department’s print services, but also has the authority and visibility to make the necessary decisions to drive the changes required.
Responsibilities should include:
- executive sponsorship and support is gained
- all entities within the department work together to optimise costs
- centralising the print service budget
- consolidating purchases across the department
- centrally tracking and monitoring print service costs
The day-to-day management of a departments print services, and associated activities such as data gathering, may be delegated and dispersed across the organisation.
Further information on each of the above responsibilities is outlined below.
Executive sponsorship and support
Executive sponsorship and buy-in is integral to the successful implementation of a managed print services environment. The responsible officer should not only support the body of work, but also have the necessary decision-making powers when changes to departmental processes are required.
Senior level officers who strongly advocate for a managed print services environment can increase the likelihood of successful outcomes. There are several key questions to assist with the successful implementation of a managed print services environment. These include:
- Do you have a strong campaign champion within the department?
- Do you have strong management sponsorship for the campaign?
- Are senior management prepared to lead by example?
- Is your organisation willing to re-invest the savings?
Ensure all entities work together
To realise cost savings, the department should first identify their current investment in print services, along with an idea of the ‘to-be’ state which will represent an optimised print service. For example, uncoordinated entities may purchase and operate incompatible print devices, leading to wastage of consumables. Small areas may not be able to leverage high volume, more efficient printers that have a higher capital acquisition cost.
Understanding your current and future print investment
An activity such as an audit or review of the existing print investment should be first undertaken to understand the size of the problem and the potential cost savings that can be realised from this activity. This does not need to be exhaustive however should encompass a large proportion of print devices and cover the following aspects:
- location of device
- type of device
- type of printing being undertaken
- current number of printers per person
- basic usage data (extrapolated if necessary).
By collecting some basic metrics on the current print service investment and usage data, a desired future state may be developed. It will also assist in the development of a business case for the desired to-be state, provide structure around any change that may need to take place, and will also assist in realising the savings from optimising a department’s print services.
Departments should already be gathering some of this data for departmental reporting purpose and should endeavour to leverage and expand this data collection. Departments should refer to the ICT profiling standard each year to determine whether there are any print services related reporting requirements.
- When designing the future state, the department should also consider:
- the printing needs of individual business units
- opportunities to consolidate printer types and dispose of non-standard ones
- the current age of printers (ageing printers drive up costs in non-standard support and supplies)
- whether outsourcing print service management is a viable option.
Departments may also want to consider implementing plans to ensure all landline facsimiles are converted to a fax-to-email gateway to realise associated cost savings. Routing facsimiles to an email gateway can decrease costs by eliminating unnecessary fixed line telecommunication services and dedicated hardware like phone ports, faxes and printers.
Clear goals should be established when moving forward. The nominated senior level officer should implement plans to move the department from its current state to the future state. There will be an element of change management to be considered when tackling this issue. It is important not to overlook this aspect and to assist employees in transitioning to a managed print service model where necessary.
Employee education and awareness
The involvement of staff at all levels is essential to realising the benefits associated with a managed print service. Educating employees about the cost of their printing and increasing awareness of their printing habits is also critical in driving more responsible printing.
This may come in the form of a departmental policy or other document giving credence to the work being undertaken. Other options include starting an awareness campaign and education to allow all business units and employees to take responsibility for their printing actions.
Another example is to initiate a campaign focusing on the printing habits of staff and the minor changes that each staff member can make to assist with reductions in costs associated with managing departments print services.
Departments should ensure all employees are aware of, understand, acknowledge and can access the relevant policy and guideline on managed print services. This may be through an induction process or ongoing training.
Departments may wish to consider tailoring education and awareness for business units or employees who can influence printing practices such as those who are involved in:
- design of graphics, templates, publications, marketing material, websites and e-newsletters
- development of forms, policies and procedures
- records management
- budget decision-making regarding personal computer, laptop, mobile device and printer provision.
Centralisation of the print service budget
The centralisation of the print service budget is a key change which can produce the necessary economies of scale to realise maximum savings. The responsible officer should bring together the key entities within a department to facilitate the centralisation of the print service budget. The reasons why this activity should be undertaken include:
- greater negotiating power in purchasing, especially when leveraging the size of a department
- the ability to track and monitor usage and costs associated with print services
- the ability to holistically view the print service investment and conduct other activities, such as rationalising, to realise further cost savings.
Consolidating purchases across the department can lead to greater cost savings. Departments should ensure they not only have a good understanding of the current state (see Understanding your current and future print investment), but any rationalisation of the print service investment has also be undertaken. For example, departments should aim to achieve a printer to person ratio of 1:30 where practical. Once the ideal number of printers has been established by the department, printers can then be consolidated across the department where practical to do so. Departments should also consider the use of pull-printing software (e.g. a PIN/access card releases print jobs); particularly where there may be a need for dedicated printers due to confidentiality requirements.
Other measures that will assist departments with understanding their print service investment and progressing towards managing their print services includes recognising practices of consolidating device models and manufacturers. This will allow departments to attain the greatest cost savings.
We acknowledge that in some situations it is not cost effective to consolidate purchases (e.g. offices in remote locations). While this particular activity may not be undertaken, other activities such as optimisation of settings and pursuing reduction in printing volumes can still be valuable cost saving strategies.
Track and monitor print service costs
It is important that print service devices and costs are continually tracked and monitored to ensure they remain aligned with an organisation’s needs (as roles, business process and staffing levels change) further assisting to improve cost saving opportunities.
There are a variety of ways to track and monitor print services. The costs associated with paper, toner and print devices may be easily tracked once the budget for these services is centrally managed. This can be done via manual methods in Excel or through a more tailored service costing system. Some costs can be identified through print devices and consumable procurement records, and some costs or other metrics can be ascertained directly or indirectly from print device operational management tools.
Optimising print settings
There are simple activities that departments can implement to facilitate the immediate realisation of cost saving. It is recommended all print devices should be defaulted to:
- double sided printing
- draft print quality with toner saving settings.
It is acknowledged there will be devices whose primary purpose is specialised printing (for example publications, maps etc.) and as such the above settings will be impossible and/or impractical. Departments must ensure these devices are not used by employees for general printing purposes.
In addition to these settings, there are steps which can assist departments to further realise cost benefits by additional optimisation to print settings. This can include:
- defaulting printers to multiple pages per sheet printing (or n-up printing) or educating users to print in this manner where applicable
- the use of print management software, specifically about page re-composition software.
There are a variety of other software offerings which may assist departments in managing their print services. The following offerings include page re-composition software, print accounting software and pull-printing software:
- Print accounting software is used to track and monitor usage, allowing the correct decisions to be made regarding where print resources are deployed depending on their usage. This can assist with consolidating your departments print fleet along with monitoring the progress of educational or awareness print campaigns. This is also useful as a benchmark to determine where the department sits compared with organisations worldwide.
- Pull-printing software is another form of print management software which uses a personal identification number (PIN), access card, biometric device or other device to release print jobs. This means that printers only release the printout when a user physically does so at the printer. This also mitigates security concerns and arguments for personal printers as each user can only release their own documents meaning sensitive documents are not left lying around central printers.
- Page re-composition software has also been developed in recent years to reduce the amount of extraneous material printed. This is especially true when printing from websites where users may print multiple pages of advertisements or blank pages when trying to print an article or document. Software exists which allows users to easily eliminate images, text or pages of a document where only a portion is required.
These strategies may be employed where practical to do so however the level of success will ultimately be dependent on users taking responsibility for their printing habits. This has larger implications on employee education and increasing awareness of their office printing habits which was discussed at the Employee education and awareness section of this document.
Managing print volume
Colour printing is more expensive than black and white printing due to the cost of toners, as such departments must ensure that colour printing is minimised along with actively managing total printing volume.
Departments may provide further information to their users to assist the realisation of the cost savings associated with active print management. Specifically, these activities may include:
- minimisation of paper copies through:
- use of mobile devices such as laptops and tablets
- use of TV screens and projectors in meeting rooms
- use of electronic record keeping
- use of online collaboration tools
- use of pull printing, follow-me printing or print release (print management software)
- identifying if paper copies will be made available when attending meetings
- letting someone know about errors in templates.
- minimisation of toner usage through:
- clever use of graphics which require minimal toner
- only utilising colour printing or copying for critical business needs
- using white space on document covers
- minimising cell fill in Excel spread sheets
- ensuring that when colours are used in documents (e.g. charts/graphs), that the components can be distinguished from each other when printing in monochrome (e.g. shades of grey or use of patterns).
- minimisation of document length through:
- sensible use of page breaks, margins, headings (i.e. documents optimally formatted and sized for printing)
- formatting spreadsheets and documents for printing
- ensuring that documents are designed to be printed in monochrome (i.e. taking into account the abovementioned strategies)
- using print preview
- printing only a selection of a document
- using simple page numbering in documents (especially PDFs) to avoid confusion when attempting to print out specific pages
- n-up printing (multiple pages per sheet – if appropriate)
- proof reading documents before printing
- sharing hard copy documents (e.g. when staff are collaborating on projects)
- using the print version icon (if available) on webpages to remove advertisements or copying and pasting into a word document and removing advertisements before printing.
- consideration of records management alternatives such as:
- where there are no legal restrictions, the use of portable document format (PDF) as an archival option as a substitute for hard copies
- where records are born digital, these should be retained and managed in the digital form
- further information relating to records management can be located on the Queensland State Archives website.
- management of the lifecycle of the devices.
- agencies should ensure the storage devices of any printers or MFDs are deleted properly prior to being re-purposed and/or decommissioned to ensure no information management issues
- these devices will assist in approaches to improve the management of waste generated by each Department/Agency, including disposal of printers and reduction of printing.
- Implications for marketing, branding and communications for example:
- designing marketing materials in monochrome (particularly where the materials are for internal use, and/or are printed in house)
- evaluating the need for heavy images and block colours and look for alternatives
- looking at alternatives to printing e.g. marketing online
- evaluating costs of printing in-house versus an external supplier – departments can utilise ICTSS.14.04 Print and Imaging as a Service (PIaaS) which is a standing offer arrangement for the supply of digital and offset printed products and associated services
- see further information related to the Queensland Government Corporate Identity System.
The above list provides some strategies users can adopt to assist with a reduction in print costs. Users are encouraged to think of ways they can further assist with reducing the costs associated with printing.
Other strategies departments can take to increase cost savings opportunities are derived from the waste produced by print services. Such actions include:
- avoiding printing materials where they are not critical – for example use some of the strategies mentioned above for reducing paper copies
- ensuring paper waste is removed through a recycling channel and that employees are using the paper bins for paper waste (where applicable)
- ensuring waste removal schedules are being used effectively (i.e. that multiple pickups are not scheduled unless necessary)
- determining whether the paper used can be of a lesser weight/grade (60gsm instead of 80gsm) or made from recycled materials.