Setting Printing Policies & Procedures

Why are policies and procedures for printing important?

Setting up printing policies and procedures might seem like a bit like hairsplitting, but it has many advantages. First, businesses nowadays set up various procedures for just about anything, as it simplifies how things are done at the office and helps that everything runs smoothly. Establishing rules and policies will eliminate any possible issues and uncertainties with your staff or even your clients. Setting up guidelines and expectations will make your office more functional and your staff will always know what to do in a situation.

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Let’s apply this to printing and copying – think how much documents are printed at your office every day. Do some of them include information which could be called confidential? Do these printouts contain any proprietary information? Can your employees use the office printers freely or print personal copies of official documents? These are just some of the question illustrating how establishing printing policies and procedures are important for the benefit of your business.

Establishing printing rules and procedures will help you control printer and copier usage, as well as track and log usage. It will prevent any inappropriate use of company equipment and issues related to client privacy. Your employees will be informed about the company’s view on loss and liability. In fact, many companies already have clear regulations for legal reasons. These regulations are often in written form and it’s expected that the employees are well informed about them; they describe what steps will be taken if an employee breaks the rules. And finally, they describe how the company plans to monitor and track printing related information.

Setting up your own policies requires some planning. First, it is imperative that you analyze any potential privacy issues which might occur in your line of business. Can the information you possess about your clients harm them in any way? Are there any legal regulations, industry standards or some other laws you should adhere to? Be sure to cover those in your policy. Other things that should be included in such a document are:

  • How will you track the usage of printers and copiers?
  • What kind of information will be stored: the cached copy of the printed document, date, name of the file, tome, the used print features?
  • What specific printing features are allowed (color copying and such)?
  • How many copies are employees allowed to make?
  • Are personal copies allowed?
  • Restrictions on e-mail printing; for example, if a print job is ordered via email, this e-mail must be send from trustworthy computers
  • Who should be contacted in case of printer malfunction?
  • Who should be contacted if printer supplies are needed?
  • Which print jobs should be printed on which printers or copiers; ensures proper utilization of office copiers and printers if there are differences among models

Other regulations depend mostly on the nature and the size of your company. These might include guidelines for disposal of unnecessary printed documents, paper shredding or recycling, storing (also for recycling) or throwing away used ink cartridges and such.

recycling

After you designed them, implementing these policies is the hard part. There are a number of solutions which will allow you easy management and control over your printers. The option of secure printing can log all user print activity; this can also be done by using some of the third-party printing management applications. You can also set the default printing mode; we suggest printing double sided and only in black and white. Most of the documents printed in an average office consist only of text. If there are any pictures or graphs, they are most likely there for aesthetic reasons and your documents will be perfectly understandable even if you print them out in black and white. Printing double sided will, as you can probably guess, cut down paper costs. Of course, these rules should not be followed blindly; justification is the key - if there is a valid reason for printing in color or printing one sided, you should allow it. The same goes for printing web pages or image-rich unedited documents; instruct your employees to look over the documents they’re about to print and cut out unnecessary parts. You will always know who printed what and have all the necessary information to ensure the policies you’ve laid out are in function.

Just how will printing policies and regulations change the way things are done at your office depends on a number of reason. First, it’s size; big companies print a lot of material and establishing rules saves them a large amount of money. It depends on the type of industry you’re in, the type of documents you are printing and finally – it depends on the employees.

Your employees should not feel threatened by your new printing policy; it’s a way of keeping things simple, actually; many times documents are printed in large and unnecessary numbers. This increases costs and slows down work as most often people are not sure which version of the document is the most up to date.  Vast heaps of paper will also be a thing of the past as all print jobs will have to be justified. Present the new rules in a friendly manner, explain their advantages and benefits and provide all other information. They are more likely to adopt the new policy if you include them in the designing process; ask the people who use printers and copiers on an everyday basis for advice. Let them make suggestions and hear their ideas.

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Both you and your staff should be persistent in following the established printing policy. The benefits explained in this text can only be reached through persistence; you won’t save any money or increase productivity if everyone stops following the new rules after two weeks. The initial period might be a bit tricky to handle, but once everyone at the office adapts, the advantages of your new system will make work easier for everyone. Good luck!

 

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