Friday, February 05, 2010

Before You Invest in Printing

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It is always good to look for different options available in the market that can optimize your organization's printing cost, before you actually buy one. Here is an insight into same

Excerpted from PCQuest, 7 Nov 09 by Sandeep Koul with inputs from Vishnu Anand

Printing requirements of organizations can vary depending on the size and nature of the business. Optimizing printing infrastructure for enterprises spread over different physical locations is always important to reduce costs. In earlier days, printers used to remain as the unmanaged piece of equipment, but now companies are putting lots of efforts to cut down costs associated with printing.

Popularity of managed printing services (MPS) is a good example to highlight how organizations can benefit from domain experts. Using MPS, organizations can save up to 30-40% cost on printing related activities and can focus on their core business. But if your organization already has a big fleet of printers and that too from different vendors, then opting for MPS would make no sense. Because, here services are vendor specific. So, if you opt for Canon MPS then your HP or Xerox printers would not be supported. In this scenario, getting right equipment is very critical. For example, if your printing requirement is of thousand-pages, you should get the printer that can support the same.

You can't overload your device with prints that it can't support. There are various software available that can analyze printer usage in an organization. This analysis can be used to put correct printer at correct place thus optimizing printer usage.

Managed Print Services

After opting for MPS from a reliable vendor, you can opt for printing service in different modes. For example, for new branch office requirements, instead of buying a new printer you can ask your MPS vendor to provide printers inside your premises. This not only saves initial investment on printers but also enables branches to be functional instantly.

Organizations can also opt to print inside vendor premises, if information to be printed is not critical. One more option is to get a new printing unit installed inside your premises for a fixed amount of time when printing requirement is very high. However, you can also go for pay-per-print model, where a fixed amount is charged per print. Services that are provided by an MPS provider include: maintenance of printing units across all locations that include managing and providing printing paper and cartridges, replacement or repair of damaged unit, providing a consolidated bill that gives visibility to top management about actual spending on printing.

Print Management Software

There are a number of both paid and open source print management software available that can help in monitoring printing usage patterns of an organization. Print Management Plus 6.0 is free to try software that can be downloaded from


for a Windows XP/2000/NT machine on the same network where your printer is attached and you can start monitoring and controlling printing activity from every machine on that network including machines with MAC or UNIX OS.

Once installed, this software will detect if there is an Active Directory. And if there is, it will pull the User Names and User Groups from this Active Directory. Trusted domains can be added after installation is complete. If no Windows Active Directory is detected, the Print Manager Plus will only pull Local Users and Groups from the machine it is installed on. Print Manager Plus defined Users and Groups can be created after installation is complete. After installation, this software allows you to track, quota or restrict printing and printer usage by dollar amount, number of pages per job, size and file type.

Besides taking care of printing needs, MPS providers also include number of different services. They provide consolidated reports like a dedicated web page that keeps track of printing activities, few MPS vendors (like Canon ) also give facility of remote monitoring of printer units using advanced software. This gives the MPS provider visibility, and thus they can easily track and resolve faults. Complete life cycle asset management service is also provided, which includes providing support to any acquisition, movement and changes to devices, as well as the disposal of unused devices provided by different vendors.

Through such managed services, device capacity can be scaled to meet increasing requirements. By measuring your usage of a device, an MPS provider can either simply maintain or replace it with a larger or smaller device to match your organizations demand. This enables customization of the services to meet your unique business needs.

With a choice of multiple financing options, there is no need to lock up capital in the infrastructure. An MPS can provide you comprehensive mobile print strategy, utilizing full range of mobile printing solutions to your organization. Instead of having disconnected set of mobile print solutions, an MPS will work with you to define an integrated mobile print infrastructure to meet your specific business needs. Employees gain seamless access to network printers, wired or wireless.

To streamline communication with a client, MPS providers assign dedicated client service managers that act as a single point of contact. Client manager is responsible to keep track of device fleet and take preventive measures to ensure hassle free services to a client. Regular audits are carried out by him to keep track on changing demands of client and to provide appropriate support.
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