If you read my “Success Can be Fleeting” article back in the April 2017 issue, you know that I talked about how you can expand your value proposition to your upper management by implementing a comprehensive copier fleet management solution. If you missed the article, I will provide a brief recap here as well as add some commentary on the types of solutions available and what you should look for in a supplier of that solution.
Deploying print management software to help manage your copier fleet has several benefits worth exploring:
- Cost savings
- Worker efficiency and productivity
- Centralized user and device management
- Reporting and analytics
In the current cyber threat-laden environment, 60% of organizations are reported to have had a print-related data breach in 2016, according to Quocirca’s “Managed Print Services Landscape, 2017” study. By leveraging the user authentication and authorization features you can take a big step toward controlling who accesses your copiers and what they can do with them once authenticated, and provide routine reports that allow you to monitor trends of user behavior over time.
These solutions offer “pull printing,” also known as “follow me printing,” which can help limit unwanted print jobs from laying around exposed in printer trays. Some of the more sophisticated solutions even have features such as key word intercept and watermarking, whereby you can be alerted if someone tries to print or scan a sensitive document with specific secure keywords (e.g., top secret or confidential).
This is where having the right tools for the right job can enable you to have a positive impact on the organization’s bottom line. Statistics from multiple sources have shown that these solutions, if utilized to their full capabilities, can save up to 30% on annual print spend for organizations of all sizes.
As an administrator you can modify user behavior by setting default settings such as forced duplex and black-and-white printing and copying. Through rules-based routing, you can set page count thresholds to force print jobs to print on the most economical devices; for example, using local MFD and desktops for small jobs and then routing large-volume jobs to your in-plant. Finally, pull printing can reduce waste, which can deliver significant cost-related savings.
Worker Efficiency and Productivity
In addition to helping establish a secure workflow, authentication helps the device to know the user and to serve up their routine workflow task buttons, helping the worker to spend less time at the device whenever they have a print/copy/scan or faxing task. Administrators can configure automated scanning workflows that route digitized documents to specific destinations, such as back office ERP systems or cloud repositories, with a single press of a button.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the mobility benefit. Some solutions have mobile printing and scanning capabilities built in, enabling you to untether workers and offer flexible printing capabilities to contractors and guests.
Centralized User and Device Management
These are power tools. As a manager, having a centralized dashboard to control your environment can equate to daily time savings; and when managing a print center in addition to a fleet, that’s like using an electric circular saw compared to a hand saw when you are building a structure.
Reporting and Analytics
More power tools! By monitoring trends over time in comprehensive reports, you can make strategic decisions about device utilization and transitioning expensive desktop printing over to MFDs, again contributing to the bottom line. This is also known as “right-sizing.” You can get a very good snapshot of user behavior, identifying the users and departments that are performing optimally and the ones that need some budget awareness counseling.
Okay, so you’re sold, right? From all angles this just makes total sense. But just when it seems like a simple decision, it can become complicated due to the amount of different solutions and suppliers at all different price points and functional capabilities. Here are some criteria that can help you to narrow your options:
- Price: I will refer to the old price versus cost scenario. What might seem like the lowest price and most affordable in the short term could wind up costing more in the long run as your needs expand. Lower-priced solutions often don’t include scanning and mobile printing. In some cases they can be added on through various third parties, but then you have multiple vendors to manage and it can become a finger pointing quagmire if technical issues arise.
- On-Premises Versus Cloud: On-premises solutions are ideal when you have resident IT staff to maintain the server architecture. This also makes sense if you acquire technology from a capital budget. They will also have more inclusive features due to more self-reliant network bandwidth considerations. Likewise, there are advantages to cloud solutions, most specifically if there are no IT resources present. Generally, updates and patches are routinely pushed out by the provider, relieving you of attending to those tasks. Cloud solutions are typically subscription-based and can be funded through an operational budget, as well.
- Versatility: Many solutions are modular by design. This allows you to implement features and functionality in phases, stretching out your budget over time and increasing functionality as needed. If scanning is included, you want to make sure that there are a variety of scan destinations and file formatting options (e.g., scan to SAP or FileNet, OCR in multiple languages, etc.).
My first recommendation is to select a print management solution that is founded on a single platform — one that can easily tie in the office copier environment as well as your print center with a central accounting system for multiple input and output devices (stand-alone scanners, wide-format printers and plotters, and cut-sheet digital presses).
Hybrid capability is also important, if that is germane to your environment having a mix of different OEM devices. You want to give yourself as much flexibility as possible, so that your investment goes the furthest and lasts the longest.
Finally, I would also suggest considering purchasing from a vendor who has skin in the game, so to speak. It is my opinion that an OEM that manufactures both the hosting MFD and also has a hand in the software development of the print management solution can be most effective when it comes to maintenance and support, as well as consistent up time and throughput.
Any successful practitioner will tell you that trying to do a job without the right tools can be an exercise in frustration. With the right power tools you really can transform your copier fleet from a money pit into a lean and mean value-added environment that is sure to please the most discriminating senior manager.
Related story: Could a Data Breach Sink Your Fleet?
Aaron Hale is a senior advisor for Canon Solutions America’s Enterprise Services & Solutions division. With 20+ years’ experience in the corporate enterprise, SMB and graphic communications industries, his passion is to help leaders make strategic business decisions in their go-to-market and operational directions and then move them into actionable programs. Whether providing investment consulting for business process automation solutions or developing tools and resources for graphic services providers to deliver improved electronic and print communications, it’s watching them succeed that motivates him.