Here's some facts to throw your way in these times of economic woe and love for Mother Nature: 18 percent of print outs are immediately thrown away, those that are required are binned less than three hours later, and the average business spends 8 percent of its turnover on printer costs.


Throw in the fact that colour printing is, on average, around three-to-four times as expensive as mono printing, and you can see why the UK is, along with Germany, the biggest waster of printing materials in the world... ever.

People of UK PLC: this must end.

Today I spoke with a company that thinks it's got the answer - for a price, of course. Doxense has a product called Watchdoc, compatible with Windows Server, and all Windows systems. This sits on your print server, and/or is pushed out as a local app to non-networked devices. it then sits like a smug prefect, secretly pumpsing information back to an SQL database.

Then, through a web-based GUI, it tells you who's printing what, when, where and what it costs. Bluntly, Doxense told me that Watchdoc can point out where the waste is... and who's causing it.

Which is a grand claim. But if it's true, will it help you save money or simply stop you from sleeping and make you hate your colleagues? Well, Doxense's UK Manager Lee Schofield points to two ways that he says Watchdoc can save you money.

Firstly, Watchdoc will set policies to save your business the maximum amount of cash. So, if a toner-hungry muppet down in the typing pool tries to print out an email in colour, the software could simply overwrite the command and print in mono. Alternatively, it could send a sniffy message advising the punter to think before they print, or a mixture of the two.

Also, Schofield says, when you're looking to buy printers, having all that information at your fingertips can only help you to make realistic purchasing decisions. When every department tells you they need a colour MFP, you can point out that they print only the occasional email (as well as some recipes and Google Maps come home time).

I'm not sure if I'm convinced, particularly as Schofield wouldn't give me any specifics on pricing for Watchdoc, which is based on a per-device rate. But he told me that an SME of no more than 100 people could expect to make its money back within 18 months, larger companies in six months, and everything from there on in is pure gravy.

Regardless, print costs are too high, and when times are tough they've got to be cut.