How to reduce education print costs: A guide to print charging

How to reduce education print costs: A guide to print charging

Print charging, also known as a pay-to-print model, mitigates the costs of paper, ink, energy, and other necessary inputs required for printing while discouraging waste and abuse because the pay requirement discourages frivolous printing. However, the effectiveness and cost savings of a print charging model depend on how it is implemented and how it synergizes with your needs.

In this guide, we’ll look at the steps you can take when setting up print charging that will help you maximize cost savings without harming user experiences and adoption rates.

Getting started with print charging

Setting up a pay-to-print system takes careful planning to ensure that you not only get the desired savings but also prevent slowdowns and other problems that might affect operations and workflows. Here are several key factors to consider when planning your print charge setup.

Your needs

The first thing to think about is how much and what kinds of printing your educational institution does. How many users require printing in a given month, and how much do they print? Are you printing simple grayscale documents, high-color and photo-quality projects, or a mixture of both?

Having this information on hand will ensure you pay only for what you need and help you maximize cost-efficiency.

Your hardware

Your existing printing infrastructure will determine what print charging model you adopt, which payment methods you can utilize, and which software you can use to manage this system. Perform an audit of your printers, network infrastructure, print server (if applicable), and software. The results will inform you of which options are available to you when making decisions about your ideal print charging system.

You might have to upgrade or replace some hardware or software to achieve the model of your choice, so it’s best to decide now if your organization is willing and able to do so.

Your print charging model

One of the most important components of your pay-to-print system is the payment model. This is the means by which you will charge for printing. Here are a few of the more common approaches:

  • Per-page charging: This means charging a flat price for each page printed.
  • User-based charging: This involves charging different groups different amounts based on their needs or usage. For example, you can charge visitors higher than you charge students, or charge more for infrequent printers and less for those who print in high volumes.
  • Departmental charging: This method groups all printing done by department and charges the amount to that group’s budget. This prevents departments from taking more than their share of the organization’s resources and encourages more economical thinking about printing.

Your payment portal

Because your educational institute has a large user base, you’ll likely need a device that enables digital and touchless payments so users can utilize credit cards or smart devices to make fast payments.

Another option is a purpose-built payment portal that allows users to load up funds into an account that the printer can draw from. This adds a layer of complexity and requires new software, but the benefits to workflow speeds are significant, while the ease of use improves adoption rates.

Is the plan right for you?

Before committing to a print charging system, ensure it aligns with your specific requirements. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it cost-effective? A print charging system encourages a strategic approach to printing and helps you recoup costs. But if your system costs you more in setup, subscription, and maintenance costs, then that defeats the purpose!
  • Is it scalable? If you plan on expanding your campus or taking on more faculty/students, your print charging system must grow with you. Consider flexible solutions that scale easily and cost-effectively, even if the initial buy-in is higher.
  • Is it easy to use? If your chosen system is difficult or slow to use, you will experience low adoption and hostility. While this may lower your costs, it also discourages printer use, which may negatively affect your operations and student outcomes.

Learn more about print charging and transitioning to a pay-to-print setup. Contact CDS to speak with our experts.

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