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When Purchasing Printers and Copiers, What Should You Consider?

Purchasing a printer or copier may be one of the most daunting tasks one would need to carry out for the organisation.  Often, these big monstrous car-like contraptions all look the same, just with a different name and often with an alpha numerical that is more like a formula to an intergalactic mineral.  Be that as it may, purchasing a copier/printer is quite important and there are a few things to consider before leaping into the commitment of procuring it.  


Below are 5 things to consider when purchasing printers and copiers, each equally as important as the next:

  1. Features/Functionality that you require
    More often than not, you are not aware that the more features and functionalities you require, the more expensive it will be.  You should rather stay away from “nice to have” features such as colour print or A3 functionality.  These two are mostly not pertinent features that you would need to have unless the scope of your work is based around it.  For example, you do not really need to have A3 functionality if you only print A3 for seasonal posters that you would need to put up in the office.  You would rather outsource that to one of your local printer service providers as and when you need.  This will decrease your overall cost of running and owning the device.
  1. Is the device fit for the purpose I need it for?
    The first thing the sales person of most copier companies always tries to do is to sell you the biggest and meanest copier/printer that is on the market, for obvious reasons.  Meanwhile, all you needed was a device to print you documents when needed and then for it to be reliable. Always be sure of what your printing habits are and that will speak to what type of device you need to get.  For example, if you need something that will be in your office to print certain sensitive information whenever the need arises, then you would not need something that copies, scans and faxes if there is normally a bigger printer outside your office.  Be honest with yourself on what you need as this will save you big bucks in the long run in terms of the running costs of the device.
  1. What is the actual running cost of the device?
    Most service providers always tell you that it will be next to nothing to keep the device running and making copies and prints.  This is almost never the case. Understanding the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of your entire printing environment is the first step in knowing the true cost per printed page.  Always ask to see the total breakdown of what we call the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

    In calculating your TCO you should include:

    • Cost of consumables
    • Cost of service and maintenance
    • Software costs
    • Hardware costs
    • Rental or finance costs (as well as the applicable escalation rates)
    • Minimum billing costs

    Gartner estimates companies spend between 1% and 3% of their turnover on printing. It is important to understand what this cost actually is and what your print environment is made up of. Normally what I would urge you to do is to get a few quotes from different suppliers and do a comparison on these.  Keep your eyes open to devices that would require you to print a certain amount of copies per month in order to keep your “next to nothing” charge.  This would also speak to choosing a device that is befitting of what you need.

  2. Cost of Toners and Maintenance
    The most frustrating thing with copiers/printers is when they run out of toner.  It always seems as if there is never any toner when you need to print doesn’t there?  Well, this is probably one of the most important factors to consider. If purchasing the device outright, make sure you do your homework on what the costs of the toners are and/or there are generic toners on the market for that particular device.  Bear in mind that toners are often needed to be purchased in sets (if it is colour device) even though there is only one toner colour that needs to be replenished.  In some models, the set can cost a sizable portion of what you actually bought the device for in the first place.  Secondly, the maintenance and upkeep of the device is just as important.  Try and stay away from ad-hoc services as they will cost you more in the long run.  Rather opt to have the device on a maintenance contract but ensure that you review clauses very carefully before signing.

  3. Renewal/When can I upgrade the device?
    Nothing is more exciting than when it is time to upgrade anything electronic.  At that time, there is probably the latest model of what you have that comes close to making coffee and fetching your paper.  Always remember that when renting the device, it is not yours at the end of the term.  With most companies, you have the option of buying it at a reduced price to what it initially cost.  Be wary of your exact renewal date as so not to get locked into an automatic renewal of the same 3-year old device, which, let’s be honest, when it comes to electronics, is millenniums old. Keep your finger on the pulse with this, as it may save you from being stuck with an outdated, troublesome device for months on end before you can swap it out for a newer one.

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