Why Print Management Software is Essential
Print management software is focussed on the device management, cost management, and output management of one of your organisations most expensive technology assets: your fleet of printers and multifunctional devices (MFDs).
The average UK office worker prints 10,000 pages per year*, and a staggering 15% of that goes directly to the recycling bin since it was printed in error, was a draft document, or was simply forgotten and left on the central office printer. Is yours one of the small businesses (less than 1,000 employees) which has no idea of how much you are spending on office print?
Statistically, 52% of small businesses leave their purchasing decisions to key individuals who don’t have the tools to understand the total cost of their office print production and, even worse, almost half of them are spending more than £10,000 annually.
Once your organisation appreciates that the huge cost overhead of office print is hurting the bottom line, the logic of deploying software to control the cost is irrefutable.
As you explore the topic, you will realise that the cost of what you print is more than the sum of your equipment leasing costs and costs per page: there’s lost productivity through having the wrong printers for the nature of the work, the overhead of having too many printers (most of which sit idle throughout the day), internal and external IT technical support, and the very real risk of a serious and reportable data breach.
Let’s explore the three areas of print management software applicability in more detail.
Print Management Software and Device Management
Whether you have an internal IT team or an outsourced IT service contract, the top helpdesk call relates to staff being unable to print. Incidentally, application password issues form the second highest category. With 40% of all calls related to office printers, you can determine the hidden costs of printing quite quickly.
Printers fail because of an internal malfunction, whether it’s a parts failure, user error, or a software fault, such as when the firmware hasn’t been updated. It’s also surprising how many faults occur simply because of abuse by staff frustrated at how a ‘simple’ task such as printing can lead to multiple visits to and from their desks just to collect a document.
The Dominance of Multifunctional Printers
As organisations grow, so too does the diversity of their printers. There might be legacy desktop printers for senior management or in particular departments (such as Human Resources or even the warehouse). Invariably, and for sound economics, business have switched to multifunctional devices – the evolution of the office photocopier which can now print, scan, fax, copy, and perform hundreds of other tasks too.
With device proliferation, and the inevitable missing of brands and technologies, other support headaches are spawned: all of these printers need routine firmware updates, new software drivers, and configuration to work with the ever-changing workstation requirements of the staff. When the use of ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD), with mobile and tablets too, the support requirements grew exponentially.
Instead, approach the topic with a down-to-earth approach, taking short term, well defined, and fully measurable projects which can deliver cost-savings of 40% while delighting your customers at the same time. And how short is ‘short term’? Some digital transformation initiatives can be implemented in full in the space of a week, with a bewilderingly positive return on investment. As we will see, it’s all about leadership.
The Centralisation of Print Device Management
Print management software helps you to overcome these many challenges by totally centralisation of the print device management. You’ll discover that the very best equipment fleets support entirely remote printer management, including the remote control of permissions, default settings, integration with your Single Sign On (SSO) policies, and much more besides.
With the very best print management solutions, and surely the next major transition for internal IT departments, the print servers themselves are being rendered obsolete. This is being achieved through so-called Cloud printing, where the entire management of printer drivers is controlled by third party software administered by your print management software provider. It makes sense!
Consider the lack of fulfilment inevitable in a role which has a high proportion of manual data entry: it’s hardly a satisfying task, and it’s made all the worse by knowing there are certain errors. Your digital transformation initiative must, therefore, be to ‘automate the mundane’. Examples of such wasteful tasks abound and can be as common as sales teams entering details from business cards into a CRM, or accounts payable teams manually coding invoices and copying data from paper into a finance / ERP suite, or HR teams deciphering hand-written entries on time sheets. It’s time to change!
Corporate culture benefits from digital transformation when your employees are encouraged to consider ‘what if’ scenarios. What if the field sales team could save an hour or two per month by fully automating expense claims vs. typing receipts into an Excel spreadsheet? Could they use that time to close the next deal?
By fostering a corporate culture which questions core aspects of how we work, and a management approach which then strives to seek answers, the organisation gains through a happier, more productive, workforce; and when that happens, the customers benefit and the enterprise is, thus, both enriched and enhanced.
The Impact on Remote Working
In the modern office, and even more so since the COVID pandemic, remote work and office work have merged into ‘hybrid working’. We work where we are, and we need to print from wherever that is. Just as hot-desking is becoming the norm, so too must we be able to print to the nearest suitable office printer.
The remote worker is at even more of a disadvantage than his or her office-based counterpart: how can they know which printer is available, or whether it’s even online? With print management software, the users’ print job is directed to the most suitable printer, and the software will determine the optimum device so the cost for printing the document will be optimised to the lowest possible.
The Impact of Software Technology
The impact of leading print software for device management can thus be seen as entirely interrelated with the cost of ownership of the in-house print fleet. By making the devices less labour- intensive from a support perspective, and by freeing up staff to print – regardless of their location – quickly, and without problems, no matter from what device, you create a stronger and more productive organisation with lowered costs.
Print Management Software and Cost Management
I mentioned the 10,000 pages printed annually by UK office workers, and that 15% – 1,500 sheets of paper – head directly to the recycling bin. Fifty percent of all of that printing is in colour, giving an average annual cost per employee of £700 just for print. Small wonder that Gartner estimate the average cost of printing in an organisation of £10 million revenue ranges between £100,000 and £300,000 when the equipment and IT costs are factored into the equation. So high is the burden of print, that printing costs are often the third highest operational expense after rent and payroll.
Analytics are Key to Success
At the heart of any good print management software is its ability to generate quality analytics in a digestible format. With no effort, you should be able to see which printers are being used and which have sat idle, the percentage of mono vs. colour printing on each (as well as the cost of printing on theta device), where these assets are located, the percentages of simplex and duplex printing, and so forth.
The more sophisticated systems generate reports on what users were printing, with startling detail as to the sources, confidentiality, document types and more. Within such reports, specific users can be identified who print everything single sided, or at high-resolution. One client who installed print management software even discovered an employee who was using their office printers to run a printing service for his own clients. Blatant theft, intercepted!
Influencing Behavioural Change
You can use your print management software to influence behavioural change. This may range from setting the default economy settings centrally, to popping up messages to users about to submit a high-resolution print job to ask if they are certain they need that quality. Go a step further, and the software might release the high-quality job if it’s previously been printed in draft mode.
‘402 instances of data being emailed to the wrong person, 266 of data posted or faxed to the incorrect recipient and 141 of loss or theft of paperwork’
Print Management Software and Output Management
Since the GDPR and the UK Data Protection Act (2018), every organisation – from micro businesses to corporations, charities, public bodies and beyond – is now operating in a more regulated environment. Many global brand names have suffered punitive fines and sanctions for their careless handling of personal data, and yet data breaches proliferate.
In the last quarter of 2020, the ICO reported that the problem persists. Among the non-cybersecurity incidents reported, there were 402 instances of data being emailed to the wrong person, 266 of data posted or faxed to the incorrect recipient and 141 of loss or theft of paperwork or data left in insecure locations. These were all avoidable mistakes.
Follow-me / Follow-you Print Security
From the moment personal data is collected and through to its final disposition, every instance of access to that data must be controlled. And yet the reality is that this data is being treated with a cavalier attitude: office printers remain surrounded by documents churned out by staff but never collected.
The stern guidance of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has been to insist upon the introduction of Follow-me / Follow-you printing, for which so-called secure-release ensures the print is only generated when the originator arrives at the printer and registers with a key fob or pin code.
With so many data breaches caused by the careless oversight of print, it’s clear that being able to add a watermark to documents based on centrally administered security parameters is a benefit. Even more impressive, is how the best software systems will restrict the printing of documents, or even notify an administrator of the printing of documents which demand high security because of their content. Email is tied with print for the likelihood of a data breach related to personal data, except that such data breaches appear more likely to affect the records of many data subjects in a single incident.
Intelligent Redaction of Print and Email
At the cutting-edge of print management technology, we discover solutions which include Kofax Output Manager and Kofax Control Suite, as well as the mature Xerox Workplace Solutions portfolio (Xerox Workplace Suite for on-premise, and Xerox Workplace Cloud for cloud printing). The possibilities are endless: using ‘regular expressions’ one may define almost any string of personal data and trigger automated redaction when the document is printed or sent by email.
Whether it’s a credit card number, a national insurance number, names, addresses – and virtually anything else – users cannot print a document with this data except with authorisation. Simultaneously, documents which are to be permitted for release may be routed to specific secure printers.
With the combination of audit trails, device management, and access control, no matter how the user intends to work with the data, it may be fully regulated, and that includes the inclusion of personal data within emails too.
Print remains critical to business communications, and while great strides have been made to reduce what gets printed, overall volumes remain high. The cost of office printers should be recognised for the valuable technology assets they are, but IT and office administrators need the right tools to understand fully how those assets are being utilised. After all, there’s no point in paying for an idle machine.
When considering the entire print estate, which is all devices which ‘put marks on paper’, from desktop printers to multifunctional devices and even fax machines, it’s imperative that data security is treated as a priority. The Data Protection officer or Compliance Officer must be briefed, and an organisation-wide security strategy implemented.
Successful organisations will benefit from print management software solutions because they will have the accurate data and analytics to know how their assets are being deployed, where costs may be reduced, and they will have less risk of a regulatory breach. For these reasons especially, it’s time to invest and to reap the benefits: the return on investment is indisputable.
Humperdinck Jackman – Marketing Director
Humperdinck has a 30-year career spanning Document Management Systems (DMS), data protection, Artificial Intelligence, Data Protection and Robotic Process Automation. With many articles published in print internationally, he believes the advances in office technology are such that we’re entering the 4th Industrial Revolution. Now Director of Marketing and Consulting Services at Advanced UK, he’s as active with clients as he is in endeavouring to write original blog articles.