Modern print technology has made it possible to produce large volumes of high-quality printed material right in the office. Depending on the size of your office, and your organization’s needs, print solutions are available in-house that in the past were only found at professional print facilities. In fact, print technology is so good now, particularly the multifunction printer (MFP), that many commercial print shops use the same machines found in many offices.
So, aside from the availability of professional equipment, why are many businesses now considering bringing production printing capabilities in-house?
Read on to learn more about the factors involved when considering in-house production printing vs. outsourced commercial printing, including:
- Cost savings
- Convenience and timing
Commercial Outsourced Printing vs In-House Production Printing
Commercial printing still provides a valuable service in the business world. Extremely large runs of very high quality or specialized material are still, in most cases, better produced by a commercial print facility. But, with the wide variety of hardware and software solutions available, many, if not the majority, of enterprise print needs today can be fulfilled in house.
The solutions vary, of course, ranging anywhere from a single high-quality, high-volume MFP strategically placed in a very small office, up to a full, in-house facilities managed copy center. An InfoTrends study showed that printing in-house for lower run-length job orders is less expensive, and requires less net time, and can produce required material with less waste than having the same job done commercially.
Consider the University Copy Center
Go to just about any college campus nowadays and you will find a copy center. Obviously, despite the so-called paperless revolution, students of all ages, and faculty members, still generate a lot of printed material. As a model for any enterprise-run print shop, the typical university print shop is a top-of-the-line, full service one that can be scaled down to fit any sized organization. Many law firms, medical offices, secondary schools, production plants, and non-profits have in-house printing facilities similar to those found on many college campuses, though often on a smaller scale.
The typical university print shop, or any in-house print facility for that matter, must be service oriented. It usually serves an array of academic, administrative, and student organizations on campus with goal of providing excellent service and quality at competitive prices. It must be adequately staffed with qualified, service-minded personnel who understand their clients’ needs. Some of the services provided by most college copy centers include:
- Copying – Black and white, color, and high-speed
- Custom Printing – Forms, newsletters, brochures, labels, bound publications, journals, cards
- Graphic Design – Scanning, typesetting, and layout design tips
- Binding – collating, folding, mounting and laminating
With the right equipment, personnel, and training, these and many other services can be provided in-house to any organization.
In the era of data breaches, information security is understandably a hot-button topic for almost all organizations, regardless of their industry or function. Security is a common factor across all facets of an organization's technology and operations, and production printing is no exception.
Any organization who outsource production printing must pay especially close attention to what kinds of data they are printing, how that data is sent to the outsourced printer, and how the outsourced printer handles, uses, and stores the data once received.
Professional services industries — including law and finance — have taken notice of this concern and, as a result, many have begun to move towards in-house production printing, especially for jobs containing sensitive or private data. Industry groups like the American Bar Association and AICPA have published guidelines and further information about outsourcing and its implied security concerns.
Printing for Small Businesses – Print What You Need, When You Need It
Most documents generated by most businesses can be produced in-house. Of course, convenience is a great advantage to having enterprise print capabilities.
Cost control is another benefit of the do-it-yourself print approach. The InfoTrends study found a wide variance in pricing among a variety of commercial print providers. Some even have a minimum charge regardless of the task requested.
The chart below shows a great apples-to-apples comparison of in-house and outsourced printing.
(Adapted from Pitney Bowes' article, The Myths Behind Outsourcing)
Retail print pricing at commercial establishments normally does not differentiate based on toner or ink coverage. Jobs with light coverage usually cost the same as print jobs requiring lots of toner. However, if the same job were to be produced in-house the actual cost would reflect only the toner used. Toner is expensive enough, without having to pay for more than is actually used. Of course other factors such as hourly wages, paper used, and normal equipment depreciation also factor into the equation.
Print solutions vary according to the individual needs of each organization. An assessment by a managed print solutions provider — one that is a brand-neutral partner and who understands your organization’s needs and core mission — is always a good way to find out if an in-house copy center is a good solution for your enterprise.