Unless you're printing money, here's how to save money on printing

* 5 things HP did to shave millions off a printing budget

I've always thought that any company that wants to sell you something should be willing to use that product or service itself. This is especially important for information technology vendors. It's always good to see a vendor that puts its money where its mouth is. In this case, HP just published the details of how it managed to save nearly $7 million in annual costs by following its own advice on addressing imaging and printing infrastructure costs.

Shaving $7 million off a printing budget is quite a notable number. Here are five things HP did to attain those savings.

#1: Cut down on device proliferation

HP is a pretty big company, with tens of thousands of employees in dozens of countries. The company has grown significantly over the years by acquiring other companies. So it’s easy to understand how HP came to have nearly 4,400 general office printers in its fleet.

HP research showed that some of these printers had a user-to-device ratio of 2:1. That is, only 2 people were using an office printer intended for group or departmental use. Best practices say that ratio should be at least 10:1, meaning HP had room for lots of printer consolidation.

Since each device has costs for support, maintenance, consumables and real estate, it’s easy to see how consolidation can trim costs. In its printing infrastructure transformation, HP went from 4,385 devices down to 2,004 devices, shaving operating costs from $15.2 million per year to $8.3 million.

#2: Eliminate underutilization

Like many other companies with a lot of printing and imaging devices, HP found that many of its office printers and copiers were underutilized. That meant the company was paying for more capacity than it needed. By sizing capacity to the true needs of the organization, HP could justify the device consolidation just mentioned above.

#3: Standardize on one print architecture

A print architecture describes how all the hardware and software components involved in printing interact to produce the output. Heterogeneous architectures tend to spawn over time in organizations as large as HP, and this drives up the cost of support.

HP started its transformation process with nine disparate print architectures, and collapsed them into one using HP Output Server. This move yielded several money-saving benefits, including reduced print escalations, network traffic and network latency, and a reduction in the number of people needed to manage the print servers environment.

#4: Eliminate the use of multiple print drivers

According to AIIM (The Enterprise Content Management Association), up to 20% of all help desk calls are print related. It’s no surprise, given how many different brands and kinds of printers are in use at many large companies. Each printer can require its own driver, and the poor guy who doesn’t have the right driver has to stop to load it or call for help.

HP solved its print driver problem by again deploying its own technology. The HP Universal Print Driver is a single, self-updating intelligent driver replacement for all of HP’s PCL5 and Postscript printers. By using this universal driver, HP was able to eliminate the use of numerous print servers and decrease the cost of integrating printers into the network.

#5: Use less energy

Every company is looking for ways to reduce energy consumption, and HP is no different. Eliminating more than 2,000 devices from its printer fleet and standardizing on energy efficient models helped to create a 45% savings in the total lifetime energy cost of the printing network.

HP CEO Mark Hurd is widely praised for taking billions of dollars out of operational costs at HP. Certainly this printer transformation process contributes to those savings. Aside from the money aspect, it’s nice to see that an IT vendor practices what it preaches and uses its own technology to better manage the company.To get more details about how HP saved money with its printer transformation project, read Spotlight on costs--The top five most common hidden imaging and printing infrastructure costs.

To get more information about ways an enterprise can shave money from printing expenses, read the InfoTrends report Moving Toward More Effective Print Management.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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