What is a print audit?

Often, audits take place in an attempt to save the company money.

A print audit is typically conducted by large organizations in anticipation of a print services request for proposal or contract renewal. The primary purpose of a print audit is to collect metrics about current printer usage, different methods of accessing print resources, and to determine the total operating costs associated with printing activities. The term audit is usually associated with a detailed financial review. However, the primary objective of any audit is for impartial professionals to collect information and provide a formal report to assist in decision making at the executive level.

A print audit is typically conducted by large organizations in anticipation of a print services request for proposal or contract renewal.

The scope of a print audit must be clearly defined early in the process to ensure a viable response. Defining a print function or related job is critical as assumptions can result in incorrect conclusions. For example, a print audit may include photocopying, scanning electronic documents and print jobs, or a combination of these. In other companies or industries, printing may include all external print providers or contracts for items such as brochures, flyers, and related items.

The first step in any impression audit is to collect usage metrics. All printers have a copy counter and digital units store this information electronically. Some printers are known as all-in-one units and have the ability to print, scan and copy. Metrics for each of these tasks are stored separately. Units with color and black and white options also separate these two tasks for greater accuracy.

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A comprehensive print audit should include information on how print resources are accessed. Often, there are multiple processes in the same organization, and this can be based on the types of services accessed. For example, a modern office has a fully networked printer that is often shared by a group of people. Other installations may have individual printers located at each workstation. Large print jobs or special requests can be sent to a selected list of suppliers or to one selected at random from the phone book.

The total operating cost for all print-related activities is an essential part of any print audit. This information should include fixed costs for equipment, consumables, repair services, external printing costs, electricity, and space requirements. For most companies, the total cost of printing activity is quite high and is a great place to introduce cost-saving measures. When measuring total operating costs, staff time dedicated to maintaining and supporting these units should also be included.

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