How important is business printing? Nearly 73 percent of business owners and decision-makers at companies with 500 employees or less use their printing devices at least four times a day.1 That's pretty important.
To make the most of your resources and opportunities you need a printing solution that is affordable, versatile, and tailored to your specific needs—whether it's for your home office, a retail store, or a large workplace. To help you decide which printer is best for your business, here are five areas of consideration.
Shop for your future print needs, rather than your current needs.
Your print fleet is a significant investment, and you want it to meet your requirements for as long as possible. Consider how your business might grow and change over the next few years, and how that may affect your printing needs. By taking growth into consideration now, you can avoid buying printers that will be insufficient within a few months and create additional, unexpected expenditures or delays.
Consider the number of people who will be using each printer. If too many users rely on a single printer, the number of pages they print each month could exceed its capabilities, causing it to malfunction or break down. Too few users, however, and the printer (and your investment) may go to waste. Avoid these problems by dividing your work area into several zones with enough printers to handle the number of users in each area.
2. Print volume
Choose printers that can handle even your highest volumes—or be prepared to outsource some of that printing.
There are two factors you should consider: average print volume and occasional surges.
"Average print volume" refers to the number of pages you expect a printer to produce in an average day of use. Your printers should be able to meet and exceed that number slightly to account for day-to-day variations.
"Occasional surges" refers to certain projects or times of year where your printing volume is much higher than usual, such as at an accountancy firm during tax season. If you experience occasional surges, choose printers with a higher print volume so they continue to perform without issue under the increased demand. Otherwise, you'll need a backup plan, such as outsourcing your printing to another company.
Set two budgets—one for purchase and one for upkeep/supplies—and choose printers that work within both.
How much are you able to spend on printers and/or printing? This cost includes a number of short- and long-term considerations:
- Cost of purchase: How much can you afford to pay upfront per printer or user?
- Cost per page: How much ink or toner will your printers use, and how much do those materials cost?
- Maintenance: How much will the printers cost to maintain? This includes replacement parts, service costs, and yearly upkeep.
- Energy usage: What are the monthly utility costs of running each printer?
4. Print quality
Use your everyday print quality needs as the baseline, then use convenience vs. cost to weigh the importance of additional capabilities.
Your business's ideal print quality is a bit tougher to determine than the three points above because you want to consider your needs and whether you can keep running without certain print capabilities. Here are a few questions to ask:
- What are your average print quality needs?
- Do you often need professional or print-shop quality printing? Could you outsource your high-quality printing needs to another company? [Note: This only works if those needs are relatively rare; otherwise, the cost of outsourcing could outweigh the cost of a more capable printer.]
One reason to take such a close look at your needs is that some capabilities may increase the cost of purchase and operation, such as color printers in comparison to black-and-white only printers. However, there is still some room for flexibility and cost savings. For example, you can purchase a high-quality, color-capable printer and use it primarily for low-resolution, black-and-white printing, ensuring you can print in color when necessary, while keeping your operating costs lower by using black-and-white printing for the majority of your projects.
5. Security and management
More risk requires more security. If your business regularly handles sensitive information, invest in printers with native security features that are in line with your level of risk.
Modern printers are more like PCs than office accessories. They have internet connections and hard drives—and hackers are already targeting them. And it's not all high-tech concerns, either: It's easy for someone to come across a sensitive document sitting in the print tray.
Whether you need additional security or just like the option, the solution lies in your printer's software. HP JetIntelligence constantly checks for intrusions or errors and will reboot a printer in the event of either. Keep in mind that you can't simply make an older printer more secure. If you think you'll want a more secure printer one day in the future, buy one now or be prepared to replace your printer when you're ready to increase your security.
It's time to get started
With the above considerations to guide your next decision, you should be able to identify the right business printers for your needs. As a final note, remember to speak with coworkers throughout the consideration process, too, as they're the ones who will be using the printers the most and they might offer important insights you might otherwise miss.
 eWeek, Businesses Find Need for Printers, Even in the Digital Age