Melville, N.Y. – A key to success for any business, regardless of size, is effective control over expenses. In many AEC firms, one area that often gets overlooked – and oversimplified – is the cost to print large format technical documents. The decision to print in-house or outsource is one that should be based on more than just the cost of the print itself.
Canon Solutions America, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Canon U.S.A, explores critical decision factors and cost considerations for selecting the best approach to printing large format technical documents. Ultimately helping AEC firms answer the question: should you bring printing in-house or outsource?
Cost Considerations: Outsourced Printing
Beyond simply looking at document costs – which can be as high as $4.50/page for a D-sized black and white document – AEC firms should consider these key cost components of outsourced printing.
- Shipping: Depending on how much printing is outsourced, these charges can easily be in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the course of a year. Shipping charges can also be doubled if documents are sent back to the printer for copying.
- Waste: Extra prints that are ordered in addition to the required document quantities many times end up as waste. While ordering more documents may lead to a lower document cost per square foot, the savings are generally negated if the prints end up as waste. In addition, wasted documents are contrary to a company’s sustainability efforts.
- Employee Time: Employees must take the time to digitally prepare documents to be sent to the outsourced printer either by CD or uploaded to the vendor’s ftp site. These tasks can prevent employees from spending time on more productive jobs.
The pros of outsourced printing include no device acquisition or maintenance costs, which can free up capital for other areas of the business. However, outsourced printing tends to cost more in general due to: smaller print quantities, payments to third-party vendors and document shipping costs. In addition, managing vendors can be complicated and drain internal resources. And, if scanning or copying is required, this can lead to additional costs.
Cost Considerations: In-House Printing
While the cost of documents printed in-house are generally less than outsourced print jobs, there are operational and machine acquisition costs that factor into the overall cost to bring printing in-house.
- Device Acquisition: AEC firms should evaluate which acquisition model is right for their business, based on their budget and print volumes. This includes: outright purchase, lease or cost per copy.
- Supplies: The type of printer and volumes printed can cause black and white toner and color ink costs vary. To understand the true cost of supplies – including paper, inks or toner – an organization should talk to its hardware provider and get the exact cost; including the expected yields of the consumables.
- Labor: In low volume office environments each user submits and retrieves his or her own prints. For this reason, the printer must be easy to use for the novice, walk-up user.
- Maintenance: This cost is generally minimal for low volume environments and can be factored into a monthly lease agreement. A cost per print acquisition model can also keep costs low; organizations only pay for what they print and there is usually a low monthly fixed billing amount.
In general, in-house printing tends to cost less because the organization is able to control what is printed, how it’s printed and how much is printed. Large format documents are mission critical to an AEC organization, so control over quality is very important and, sometimes, that quality assurance can only be done in house. In-house printing also affords flexibility and the ability to meet demanding deadlines that outsourced printing simply cannot. Of course, this all comes at a cost: the organization must purchase or lease and maintain the device, purchase supplies, implement future technology upgrades and dedicate facility space to the device.
The bottom line: there is no one-size-fits-all approach to printing in-house or outsourcing. But, an AEC firm can make an informed decision – and the best one for the organization – by considering all of the key cost components, not just print cost, as well as the pros and cons of each approach.
For more information on how the true costs of printing large format technical documents, download the Canon Solutions America whitepaper “Printing Large Format Technical Documents – What’s Best: Print In-House or Outsource” or visit www.csa.canon.com.