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    Unmanaged Office Supply Expenses – Where do Printing Supplies Fit In?

    By: Marco
    August 7, 2013

    Office supply expenses often go unmanaged for a variety of reasons:

    • There is a universal need throughout the office which generates constant requests from many different employees
    • Seemingly low costs often justify the spend without approval
    • A continual need encourages frequent replenishing and large quantity purchases
    • More than one person within your company is approved to order office supplies
    • The list of office supplies is extensive, which makes them a challenge to manage and monitor

    There are hidden dangers with unmanaged office supply expenses. Supplies that aren’t necessarily “office supplies” (i.e. equipment, furniture, computers) may be marked as office supply expenses. Employees can easily abuse their privileges by ordering supplies that are unnecessary, mistakenly order the wrong supplies, not order supplies in a timely manner or re-order supplies that you already have in stock. But, most importantly, unmanaged office supply expenses makes analyzing and reviewing purchases and costs nearly impossible (which, bringing the issue full circle, makes these expenses difficult to manage and improve).

    Some of the largest office supply expenses are those related to printing. These include paper stock varieties and toner/ink cartridges. Breaking these out of general office supplies and making them a separate expense is recommended; being able to track these costs will bring to light any cost-saving opportunities or usage issues taking place in your company.

    Monitoring the Use of Your Printing Office Supplies

    Office Supply Expenses

    Perhaps an employee is printing copies of their 400-page novel on a company printer? Or maybe you're buying really expensive ink cartridges, when you can find the same kind for much cheaper. As soon as you uncover the issues that are causing you to spend more than you should, you can address and fix them as you put together your revised budget.

    Managing office supply expenses generally falls on the shoulders of administration, accounting and sometimes even management, in small businesses. Take a minute and think about their job duties and priorities; it is very unlikely that managing office supplies is at the top of the list, or on the list at all. You could remove some of that weight by allowing a team of technology experts to take on the challenge of managing printing expenses for you.

    Check Printing Supply Management off Your List

    A managed print services program can do this low-priority, high value work for you. Through software installed on your computer, your print provider can monitor toner and printer usage and detect issues or malfunctions. This could positively impact your office supply expenses because it can be closely monitored. You could track supply and equipment usage as a whole company, by department and even by user.

    Another benefit of MPS programs, in relation to office supplies, is automated toner shipment. This same software will track toner usage; when your cartridges are getting low, your print provider will automatically ship you a new one. No one within your company has to take time to check toner cartridge levels or order them if running low or are empty.

    At the end of every month you will be given a report of how your supplies are being utilized, clearly indicating any issues. With this information you can address the issue by approaching abusers or by implementing policies regarding the use of office supplies.

    MPS providers are printing equipment and technology experts. Through managing and monitoring your equipment and supplies usage and assessing your business goals and printing needs, MPS providers can offer recommendations for cost-saving opportunities and improved processes. Working with an MPS provider is an on-going partnership that will keep your office equipment and supplies optimized for your needs.

    Assess Your Current Situation

    In order to build an accurate office supply budget or, even better, an office printing supply budget, you need some historical data. Go through a few months or even a year’s worth of office supply purchases and determine your total monthly expenses. This totally surprises many organizations; it is usually much higher than expected.

    As you are budgeting you may want to consider having a print assessment done by a print provider. They can assess all of your printing needs and business goals and provide cost-saving and workflow improvement recommendations.

    When you know your historical office supply expenses you can build and implement an accurate plan and budget. It's important to continue to monitor and reevaluate your usage and costs every few months. Things change, needs change, new expenses crop up and old ones disappear requiring an adjustment in your plan and your budget. This can be a daunting task, but with the right preparation, tools and assistance, monitoring and managing your printing office supplies can be done effectively.


    Ask a Marco technology advisor about managed print services and how they may be able to help you monitor and manage your printing office supply expenses.

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    Topics: print costs, Office Supplies, Office Technology
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