More Content - Including Podcasts

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Greening Your IT - Dispelling the Paperless Office Myth

Printing and the consumption of paper, ink, toner, and electricity are one of the easiest ways to raise awareness and lower costs in your organization. But can any office go paperless? I think time has dispelled (or “busted”) this myth. So accepting that printing and the processing of paper will never disappear completely the emphasis turns to responsible use of printing and print technologies.

So what we are after are the easy wins in this area. Growing in popularity recently has been having a social-engineering approach of people tagging comments to the effect of “do you really need to print this?” attached to their emails. Having management reiterate the importance of reduced paper use in meetings is also helpful. But these are not methods that can necessarily be objectively measured for results unless you know how much printing is happening in your organization today.

All corporate network printers should support the ability to centrally draw back and report on the volume of printing they have completed in a given period of time. A small amount of legwork can have this functionality setup and working in a short timeframe, and then this data can be used to objectively measure the results of any further printing reduction activities. Having a place to store all this data (as configuration items) for the purposes of measurement is yet another reason for your organization to formalize the CMDB.

With an understanding of how many pages your organization prints daily/weekly, you can start to measure any reductions. Following the “reduce, re-use, recycle” mantra, other ways can be instrumented to reduce printing volumes. By leveraging Active Directory group policies for providing access to networked printing resources, you can control what users have access to which printers, at what times. This will prevent employees from printing volumes of paper for personal use before and after core work hours.

The more difficult questions arise around how to control the size of print jobs, the content of printing (printing only what’s necessary), and the format of the print jobs. There are means for accomplishing all of this via various new technologies (foremost amongst newcomers in this arena is software development company GreenPrint - ) but the most important point is to understand where you are today, set goals, communicate those, and reward those who assist in achieving them.

Quick wins to reduce your organization’s carbon footprint in the area of printing would need you to start measuring your printing and reporting weekly or monthly (please don’t print and post the reports!). Accountability and recognition will be some of the keys to success in this area.

Some of this quick wins would be:

  • Ensure you use recycled paper
  • Reduce the number of printers (if possible)
  • Provide the ability for all staff to “print” to PDF and encourage that behaviour
  • Use Group Policies for Windows-based print queues to enforce duplexing and other print saving measures
  • Disable printing outside of core business hours for most staff
  • Ensure all printers have either “power save” modes or ideally are powered off overnight

No comments: