For the last 14 years, I worked for three vendors that promised world class organizations they will eliminate paper or reduce it so much the project will pay for itself in one month. I am here to tell you the bad news. Paper will never go away. Sure, there are ways of reducing print and the world is slowly moving to a paperless environment but there is still plenty of paper around. People are infatuated with printing, which is actually a good thing since this is how I learn important company news. You would be very surprised how much I learn standing by the printer for an hour. I worked with a woman who would print her e-mails and file them in a draw. Makes sense, no?
A recent article from The Washington Times revealed federal government employees print millions of pages everyday which are instantly discarded or recycled, costing the government an estimated $440.4 million each year. Think about that when you pay Uncle Sam on April 15.
While there are countless ways of reducing print – I want to give five unique tips on how to reduce print in the enterprise.
Charge and audit printing – Most companies keep track of how much gets printed and charge the costs back to the department or business unit. Some technologies today can pinpoint the exact amount of paper a specific user prints (locally or centrally). The business divisions must be accountable for these charges. Some companies are even passing these costs to their customers. My insurance company charges $10 a year if I want to receive my quarterly statement and policy by mail.
Implement Pay Per Sheet (PPS) Program – This is a program I started preaching a few years back. Companies should allocate a certain amount of paper to individual users so they can fulfill their job duties. This can vary depending on role/function however the amount must be reduced every year (anywhere from 10% to 30% works for me). When the user goes over their allotted amount, he/she will need to personally pay per sheet. I have seen companies collect anywhere from a nickel to a dime per page. The money gets collected in a jar and then donated to a local charity at the end of the year.
Disable “all” option in print dialog – Most applications have an “all pages” option and in many cases, this is the default option. I encourage all software vendors reading this to change the default option (yes I am talking to you Microsoft). Fair enough, I do know there are legitimate cases a user needs to print all the pages of a document. In this scenario, a user can explicitly enter the page numbers of the entire document.
Transform documents into a usable form – Sometimes there is no replacement to holding a piece of paper. However, when you demonstrate the ability to automatically extract data from a financial report and create a drillable colorful chart, users will smile. How about taking summary pages from a variety of management reports and sending them via PDF to an iPhone or Blackberry? Suddenly, printing becomes a past time.
Deploy an information governance program – An information governance framework allows companies to keep what they need to keep and delete what they need to delete. In theory, the less you have in your corporate repositories, the less information to print. Also, data privacy rules and digital rights management allow you to limit the use of documents.
There you have it and mark my words, no matter how much you try, paper will never go away. When you are done reading this – please print it, re-read it, and file it your draw.