Intelligent print management is becoming increasingly vital to help businesses cut rising print costs, enhance document security and reduce environmental impact. Such tools provide the backbone of many managed print services (MPS) contracts, offering secure document release or “pull printing”, rules-based printing, advanced usage and cost reporting, and so on.
Businesses want to consolidate outdated printer fleets, reduce waste, and explore modern MFD features such as document capture and document workflow.
However, adoption lags behind in the SMB market. Our latest research suggests that 20 per cent of businesses with 250 to 500 staff have a centralised print management tool that can track print use across all devices. Almost 60 per cent of respondents reported a rise in colour print, which also increases consumables expenditure.
Also often overlooked is the huge security risk that unmanaged printing can create. Documents left in output trays can put sensitive information in the wrong hands. This threat is genuine - we conducted a study which saw 70 per cent of respondents indicate they had suffered one or more accidental data breaches as a result of unsecured printing.
Third-party products are particularly suited to busi-nesses operating mixed-device fleets. Best-of-breed technologies can manage accounting, cost recovery and security across a mixed-fleet environment.
In our opinion, businesses should favour the following features:
• Secure pull printing Users can send documents to any printer once they have authenticated themselves. This enhances security and helps ensure that only required print jobs are executed. ID may include user and password login, PINs, magnetic strips, cards or biometrics. All jobs can be charged to the correct user, department or cost code. For compliance purposes, an audit trail can track user, file name, time and device details.
• Rules-based printing Print rules can be applied by job attributes such as colour, number of pages, simplex or duplex, or the applications used to print from. Printing can then be directed to the most cost-efficient print device on the network.
• Permissions Individual users or devices can be restricted. For instance, MFD scan or colour functionality can be restricted to authorised users only. Quotas can also be enforced.
• Cost recovery This provides the ability to charge all scan, print, photocopy and fax use to a specific client, division or cost centre. So legal firms can charge clients for every page they print or copy, and educational institutions can limit student print volumes.
• Reporting Reporting features can provide a clearer view of an organisation’s document production and workflow costs. Detailed reports analyse usage by user, device, server, or client activity.
• Scan workflow To give a complete picture of all printing and imaging costs and use, cost recovery should also include scanning. Some tools offer ad hoc or front-office scanning performed at an MFD that has been integrated into document management systems, email and network locations. This enables client information to be associated with each scan.
• Mobile printing Some print management tools help users release their documents at any printer from their smartphones or tablets. This extends the print infrastructure to mobile workers and ensures firms can account for and report on printing across the enterprise. Some products also provide mobile capture, extending ad hoc scanning to mobile users.
Printing is here to stay, even though volumes may decline. So businesses still need to ensure they are operating a reliable, secure and cost-effective print infrastructure. As the market matures, and consumerisation has a continued impact on the enterprise work environment, print management tools will need to also offer the ability to monitor, track and secure mobile printing.
You cannot manage what you cannot measure. Organisations need to put the tools in place to handle their print environment proactively. Companies of all sizes may benefit from the scalable print management tools on the market from the likes of Nuance (the sponsor of our recent report). These tools allow them to implement the appropriate level of usage tracking and control.
Intelligent print management empowers businesses to implement a unified, enterprise-wide print strategy across a heterogeneous fleet. It can help them ensure the right print job is printed on the right printer at the right time. This provides cost transparency, improves document security and supports greener printing practices.
Our related print management white paper is available to CRN and Channelweb readers online.
Louella Fernandes is a principal analyst at Quocirca
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