Businesses are always looking for ways to improve their bottom line. Some increase costs. Others find ways to diversify their offerings to new markets. But one of the simplest ways is to streamline backend processes is through business process automation.

This type of automation is designed to achieve one or more of four things: profitability, resource allocation, cost reduction, and operational control. Perhaps the most visible examples of business process automation can be seen at major retail stores in the form of self-check-out. Though controversial, self-checkout is directly aimed at resource allocation. After all, employees who are not busy accepting payments for in-store customers can be repurposed to meeting the needs of a growing online customer base.

Other business processes have become more commonly digitized or outsourced. Things like inventory tracking and ordering, payroll systems, and project or team management are just a few of the standard backend programs that have spawned entire service industries. Office printing is yet one more area many companies are still exploring for further optimization. Here are three ways partnering with a reputable print services provider can improve business process automation.

Resource Allocation

There is a minor story arc in the 1999 movie “Office Space” in which two of the characters have an ongoing battle with their assigned office printer. The machine is notorious for paper jams and other errors, eating up vast amounts of time and energy to resolve. The device in the movie is characterized as nearly sentient and intentionally malicious. While office printers do not come with artificial intelligence (yet), the joke is funny because it has an air of truth.difficulty monitoring print and printer expenses

Every office worker can relate to the time, energy, and frustration of managing printing problems. And even infrequent issues can take up valuable employee time – especially that of the IT department inevitably tasked with finding a solution. Unfortunately, this time and energy spent is only a part of the ongoing problem most businesses face when tracking the usage and costs of print within their business. In fact, more than half (64%) of companies have difficulty monitoring their printing expenses.

Print services partners can alleviate concerns about ongoing paper jams, security updates, and system errors. For example, most printer leasing and managed print services companies provide hardware and software maintenance to clean out machines, swap out rollers, update systems, and otherwise ensure the printer is running at peak performance. So, IT can focus on more critical tasks, like operating servers and ensuring business security. And employees can stop fighting with the printer for that document they need.

Improved Operational Control

Even in today’s volatile and dangerous technology environment, many companies have trouble thinking about printers as more than a means to an end. After all, it’s just a machine that duplicates information onto a piece of paper. But in a world where your home appliances are connected to your wi-fi, is it really surprising to discover that office printers are an important hub within any business?

Getting a handle on the office printer has quickly become more than merely tracking expenses. Rather, it is essential to know how these machines are connected to the business network and in what ways they are used. For this reason, printer services providers have developed the technologies and knowledge to manage and monitor printer networks. Through these programs, they can keep security up-to-date, control which employees are connected to specific printing devices, collect data on volumes and usage of consumables, and track and address printer errors. This information allows business office partners to make educated, controlled decisions about printer security, employee printing requirements, overall printing spend, and departmental allocations.

Cost Reduction

Perhaps the most attractive part of partnering with a print services provider is the opportunity for cost savings. Besides reducing time and energy spent by IT personnel and other employees, printer services help streamline office printing in various ways.

While there are a variety of contract options dependent on the company and services required, many print services providers offer printer leasing and regular service and maintenance. These options eliminate sizeable up-front capital expenditures. They also serve to protect against surprise service or maintenance needs, wrapping everything into a tidy, budgetable monthly package.

In addition to savings on equipment and service, print partners can reduce expenses for consumables such as paper, ink, and toner. For example, monitoring printer usage for pages printed and ink and toner levels over time allows print service providers to see ongoing trends. They can even get granular down to use by department and employee.

It is possible to use this data to predict when supplies need to be ordered and the amounts required. The information can also be used to create timed subscriptions or provide ongoing levels alerts. In addition, print partners can see when printing patterns change and recommend timely changes to consumables orders. These options create opportunities to control and reduce costs based on monthly budgets, crafting tighter internal rules for printer use and reducing storage space.

Print service partnerships make it easy for offices to tackle cost reduction and improve operational control and resource allocation. And as businesses continue their ongoing search for ways to increase their bottom lines, office printing is an essential consideration for business process automation.