7 Print Management Solutions That Reduce Printing Costs

Actively managing how your staff prints documents is an effective method to reduce your business printing costs. One of the simplest methods you can use to better understand where printing costs are currently unmanaged in your business is by applying the “5 Ws” line of questioning:

  • Who is printing in my business?
  • What documents are being printed?
  • Where are documents being printed to?
  • Why are documents being printed?
  • How are documents being printed?
  • How much is being printed?

Using this investigative line of questioning will provide you with valuable insight to identify potential areas of improvement. The answer to each of the “5 Ws” further identifies where print policies should be created in order to eliminate unnecessary printing and print waste. Let’s take a few examples:

Who is printing in my business?

Does this person need to print? Can he or she do their job without needing to print anything?

What documents are being printed?

Do these documents need to be printed? Can they be digitized to reduce paper consumption and streamline delivery?

Where are documents being printed to?

Are employees printing to the most cost-efficient device? Do people have access to printers at their desk that require expensive ink cartridges?

Why are documents being printed?

Do we have access to software that can eliminate the need to print certain documents?

How are documents being printed?

Does this document need to be printed in colour? Could this be printed 2-sided to help conserve paper?

How much is being printed?

How can we reduce how much is being printed? How can we eliminate misprinted documents and eliminate waste?

The general goal of print management aims to help your business in 3 different ways:

  1. Reduce printing costs
  2. Reduce print volumes / eliminate waste
  3. Improve document workflows

Once you understand problematic areas in your print environment, you can being to correct them using a Print Management Solution. A Print Management Solution is a built-in feature or piece of software that enforces print rules on your printing devices and connected technology (such as a PC, laptop, smart phone, etc). Print rules can make small to dramatic changes in your office environment depending on how many employees and how many printing devices there are. A Print Management Solution can range in cost from free up to and above hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on your business needs and size of the organization. The key take-away from a Print Management Solution is that it is designed to have an immediate return on investment — the goal is bottom line savings.

There are dozens of Print Management Solutions available from a multitude of providers. At Ontario Copier, we’ve identified 7 Print Management Solutions that we feel work best to improve the print environments of our clients.

#1: ID Codes

Implementing an authentication process on your copiers is the most basic way to reduce your printing costs. By assigning each user a unique ID code (and optional PIN for extra security), you can track exactly how many prints, copiers and scans a user has done. Spreadsheets can be generated daily, monthly or yearly depending on how you wish to track printing usage. Tracking print and copy usage gives you valuable insights into different user’s printing habits. You can limit how much printing a user can do, limit their colour printing usage, or even restrict it altogether.

Many businesses that use ID codes will confirm that employees do limit their colour printing usage when they know they are being tracked. They also reduce or stop the amount of personal printing that they do. With a Colour Cost Per Print costing almost 10 times as much as a Black Cost Per Print, limiting, reducing colour print usage immediately reduces printing costs.

ID codes are available as a built-in feature on almost every copier brand and model.

#2: PaperCut

Storming into the copier industry in 2005, PaperCut has very quickly become the household name for print management software. PaperCut is a server-based software that connects with all of your networked printing devices to enforce customized print rules. These print rules include 2-sided printing or black and white printing. Custom rules can also be scripted into the software. For example, documents that are larger than 120 pages in length will be automatically forwarded to a larger, more cost-efficient copier.

PaperCut can also be configured to use a powerful feature called Follow-Me Printing. Follow-Me Printing sends all print jobs to the PaperCut server. Users can authenticate themselves at any connected printing device and securely release their print job. Follow-Me Printing improves office productivity by eliminating wait times at the copier and reduces print waste by eliminating the amount of print jobs that never get picked up from the output tray.

PaperCut offers a very user friendly dashboard that anyone can operate. This means that your print environment does not need to be managed by IT. An office manager or office administrator can just as easily manage your company’s copiers and printers. Reporting is available on the home screen of the dashboard with common figures such as how much paper has been printed, how many trees have been consumed and how much CO2 has been reduced over the last 30 days as a result of using PaperCut.

Finally, one of the added benefits of PaperCut is that it supports multi-vendor print environments. Companies that use a mixture of Canon, Xerox or other brands can all being managed under the PaperCut software.

Product Link: Click here

#3: UniFlow

UniFlow is Canon’s best-selling and most popular print management software. UniFlow is a server-based solution that, very much like PaperCut, uses Follow-Me Printing to allow users to securely release their print jobs from any device they choose. UniFlow also enforces print rules that the administrator sets and includes a cost recovery solution to calculate the exact dollar amount each employee is costing the company by their print usage.

UniFlow has been updated throughout the years to support multi-vendor environments and a more user friendly interface. In a Canon-only environment, UniFlow is a great fit because both the hardware and software is designed and supported by the same company.

Product Link: Click here

#4: AA-Print

Advanced Anywhere Print is another one of Canon’s proprietary secure printing solutions. This software gives you the features of UniFlow without requiring a server. Print jobs are stored on the hard drive of a Canon imageRUNNER ADVANCE device that acts as a host. Because AA-Print is serverless, it is a cost-effective solution for companies that have only one office location. Companies with multiple offices will require a server-based print management solution in order to properly manage their printing devices.

The top features that AA-Print offers include user tracking, Follow-Me Printing and optional support of HID swipe cards for authentication. AA-Print currently only works with Canon’s imageRUNNER ADVANCE copiers and only a few imageRUNNER Laser Beam Printer models.

Product Link: Click here

#5: AA-Prox

Advanced Authentication Proximity Cards is a user tracking and authentication system from Canon. AA-Prox functions exactly like the ID Code feature, except that users use a swipe card instead of a 4-digit code to authenticate themselves. Companies that currently use HID cards for security access can greatly benefit from this software by making it easy for users to authenticate at the copier. AA-Prox only supports Canon imageRUNNER and imageRUNNER ADVANCE devices.

Product Link: Click here

#6: Equitrac

For over 20 years, Nuance has been a leader in the imaging industry. While specializing in document management solutions for healthcare facilities, Nuance has evolved to offer solutions in education, finance, government and corporate industries. Their software includes eCopy PDF Pro Office, eCopy ShareScan and more.

Nuance’s Print Management Solution Equitrac is scalable and customizable. Equitrac offers the primary features of any smart printing software: Follow-Me Printing, user tracking and print rules all help to reduce IT burden and reduce printing expenses. Equitrac has several add-ons that offer vertical-specific solutions. The Legal add-on includes a cost recovery system for charging back prints/scans to clients. The Education add-on includes a print-for-pay system so that students can use a print card to pay for prints and copies.

Like PaperCut and UniFlow, Equitrac supports multi-vendor print environments.

Product Link: Click here

#7: Enforced Print Drivers

In smaller office environments, print management software is not always necessary. Small businesses can benefit simply by defaulting all of the print drivers to black and white and 2-sided printing. Many small offices prefer this method to keep printing costs down because it avoids employees having to enter an ID code whenever they need to print or copy a document.

Microsoft Windows offer a variety of security solutions to lock down the print drivers by an administrator. Contact your IT consultant for more information about how to do this.

Summary

Print Management Solutions can range from simple ID codes to advanced secure printing software. Use the “5 Ws” to identify areas of improvement within you print environment. Then implement a solution that seeks to reduce costs, eliminate waste and streamline productivity.

Ready for the next step?

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