Even with the mobile and cloud revolution in full swing, more than a third of processes are document driven. With almost three quarters of small medium sized businesses (SMBs) say printing is critical to their activities.

Print represents an average of 15% of an SMB's annual overall budget; if you have a £1,000,000 to spend on IT, that would be £150,000 spent on printing.

If this is a surprise to you, you're not alone. Most businesses underestimate the amount they are actually spending on document management. They also don't realise the various inefficiencies that are affecting their productivity and using up IT resources.

So, there is a hidden cost to un-managed documents. The good news is that there are big savings and efficiencies to be made if you get it right.

Before we delve into the details, let's look at the problem.

Document management is overlooked

Most businesses don’t give document management the attention it deserves. As a result, companies end up with unnecessary expenses and unexpected issues that take up IT’s resources and make users less productive.

The hard costs start to add up

Without any governance or processes in place, companies often spend far more on paper, printers, multifunction printers (MFPs) and toner. In particular, the proliferation of cheap printers start to cost the company a lot more than anyone realizes in the long run.

The soft costs take their toll

When document processes are slow and clunky, employee productivity takes a hit. Additionally, the 40 to 60% of all IT Helpdesk calls that are print-related start to take up IT’s time too.

In short: there’s lots of room for improvement

Consider these best practices to start uncovering those efficiencies and savings your company needs.

Digitise workflows

Get rid of the repetitive steps needed for common processes. You can create customised, one-touch digital workflows (such as scanning an invoice and saving it to a specific shared folder) using the front panel interface on your MFP. Then, once you’ve defined the workflow, you can save it as an ‘app’ so that users can finish those tasks in one step.

Integrate with mobile

Give your users easier ways to connect and print, from any device, anywhere at any time. Choose a cross-platform solution that’s integrated with your regular applications and makes printing as easy as sending an email. In the process, you’ll eliminate the need for some users to install third-party solutions, which increase the burden on IT support and could create security issues.

Integrate with cloud

Remove unnecessary steps by integrating your print infrastructure into new cloud productivity and storage tools like Dropbox and Google Apps for Work. Most users typically have to use email or their desktops to send print commands, even though they’re already using these cloud apps. By integrating these apps with your printers, you cut one step out of the process and free your users up to connect to any systems they need.

Improve security

One of the biggest reasons to optimise your document workflow is security. Documents left in print trays may have internal or commercial sensitivity. Network security can be compromised by unauthorised third-party apps downloaded to enable mobile printing. Multifunction printer hard drives may also contain sensitive data that should be erased after printing. BYOD increases the complexity of device management, both authorised and unauthorised. Carrying out a comprehensive analysis of your document workflow will help you eliminate these issues and operate more securely.

Worldwide, SMBs devote 12% of their IT resources to printing support, a figure that rises to 17% in the US. The single biggest challenge that small and medium sized businesses face is controlling ongoing costs. 32% of SMBs say that print-related support is on the increase.

Here is how you can reduce the burden on your IT team.

Outsource your print helpdesk

Reducing the burden of the 40% of print-related helpdesk calls that waste both IT and employees’ time starts with smarter workflows. But if you really don’t want to be fielding those calls, consider outsourcing your print helpdesk to an expert.

Order supplies proactively

Your MFPs can alert you or your IT partners when they’re running low on toner. This goes a long way towards removing the waste caused by different people buying toner and supplies at different times.

Simplify Configuration

Instead of manually configuring and setting up every single new MFP, you can just ‘clone’ the configurations from a previous machine and apply it to any new ones. It’s faster, easier and less prone to error.

Troubleshoot remotely

Instead of rushing out to users when something breaks down, choose MFPs that give you the ability to troubleshoot from your computer.

Organisations can benefit from MPS services to ensure that document worklfows are set up and ensure to save IT helpdesk's time.