Studies have shown that, on average, a company replacing monochrome laser printers with color laser multi-function printers (MFPs) that do not enforce printing policies and will use 10 times the projected toner in value.
There is, however, a way for an enterprise to provide its employees with higher quality print output and finishing capabilities without adding a large bill at the end of the year. If you read your pay per page contract carefully, strip out the paying for unused pages, at least the paper part, and consider making use of a document output management system, you can afford as many MFPs your company needs in the most cost effective way.
Before committing to any pay-per-page contract, assess what printing assets you have and what the cost of your current operation really is to discover what you need with an independent output management system. Keep in mind that part of a good output management system is that it can be used with any industry standard copy and printing device.
Enforcing policies that allow only certain users to make use of the color capabilities, for instance, are very effective and can be easily implemented using an output management system that requires user authentication. That way, the output management system knows who is requesting and can enforce the policies assigned to each user or user group.
Some organizations outsource their printing and some printer vendors such as Xerox have specialized in charging per printed page, implying to include all maintenance and support costs, with a caveat, of course.
The pay-per-print vendors do not like document output management systems as they significantly save toner and paper, the areas where the vendors make the most money. Often those contracts are based on an average number of prints a year and average toner coverage per page.
It is natural for people like color on pages, even if the information on the page is boring. So they will prefer printing them out in color as it is more pleasing to look at a colored page. A good document output management system will allow printing a color document in a scale of grays as well as reducing the toner coverage per page.
There are many other good reasons to deploy a printer vendor independent output management solution such as accountability, what you think you printed and what the vendor thinks you have printed, which printers are used efficiently and which ones are not. Compare toner use of policy enabled printers with those that have no control. And there is the convenience that your print can be collected at a printer near you and the security aspect that your print is not waiting in the output tray for others to see, accidentally take or throw away.
You can also use the best output management solutions to observe what printing assets you have and what their cost and utilization is to discover what type and capability printing systems you need where in your organization.
In a nutshell, owning your printers and having an output management system that integrates your whole fleet is the most cost effective way. However, if you do not have the internal resources to manage your printer fleet or other reasons to outsource the printing infrastructure, then you should make sure that your contracts have no penalty on using less paper and toner than predicted. A typical one is Xerox paper and color toner being dumped in your yard whether you need it or not followed by the second classic, a huge bill for overuse of toner due to higher coverage. So much for saving the rain forests and reducing the carbon footprint.
I am not saying there is no place for pay-per-page, merely that if pay-per-page printing is thought to be the easy option, it could also be an expensive option too, if selected for the wrong reasons. Also, that an independent output management system makes extreme sense no matter if you own your printers or contracted into a pay-per-page scheme.