Three Levels of Print Software

Three Levels of Print Software

Whether it’s a simple analysis of current waste or improved document security, every organization can benefit from print software in some manner. However, with so many software solutions on the market, it’s often difficult to decipher which one is the best for your office.

We find that when you divide software solutions into three general categories based on functionality, it becomes much easier to narrow down your options. When you think of print software in this way, you’ll be in a better position to gauge whether or not a proposed solution will meet your needs.

Level One: Analysis

The first level of print management is all about measuring your current costs and production needs. No matter what your end goal, this is an important first step for any organization. While everyone wants to cut printing costs, a surprising number of businesses don’t even know how much of their budget is currently going towards print expenditures. Investing in print software solves this problem by providing the tools necessary to measure your current production and usage. With these analysis tools, you’ll be able to determine your overall print volume, optimize in-office device placement and even discern how many machines your building requires. How do you know if you’re ready for a level one software option? Consider the following three questions:

  1. Do you know how much you’re spending on printing?
  2. What’s your print volume?
  3. Are your printers being overworked or overused?

Level Two: Basic Tracking and Automation

An initial audit is a great place to start, but you’ll want to track your printing long-term if you’re really serious about slashing costs. Additional software features can be used to improve client billing procedures, restrict color printing permissions and even enforce duplex printing. In doing so, these solutions create a culture of continuous improvement and cost reduction.

Another useful facet of this level is process automation. Print software can help streamline your workflows by providing automated meter readings, service call notifications, supply alerts and remote adjustments. These capabilities save you time, prevent inopportune supply outages and keep your office running at peak efficiency. To determine if you require level two features, consider the following questions:

  1. Does your office spend a lot printing unneeded color documents?
  2. Are your employees using duplex printing or other cost-saving options whenever possible?
  3. Are you having trouble tracking your printing costs or maintaining supplies?
  4. How much print downtime can you afford?

Level Three: Advanced Features

The solutions outlined above provide a lot of general functionality that any business can benefit from. However, certain institutions have unique workflow needs that require specialized solutions. For example, healthcare facilities and human resource departments deal extensively in confidential documents. As a result, they require a software solution that will keep their documents secure. Law firms, meanwhile, need e-discovery functionality to manage evidence and court files. Here are some common advanced elements to consider when shopping for print software.

Improved Security

Confidential information is increasingly under siege. Organizations today have to strike a delicate balance between increasing digital workflows and maintaining document security. If you’re handling confidential employee files or patient charts, then you also have an obligation to keep those files secure. One way this can be achieved is through secure print release functionality. This feature allows you to print your document and then pick it up at any office device by authenticating your user credentials. Requiring you to be at the machine before your job prints ensures your confidential information won’t end up in the wrong hands.

Document Management

From lost files to mishandled documents, paper files can really drag down your business productivity. Print management software alleviates this problem by adding digital document management to your arsenal. Tools like optical character recognition will allow you to convert old files into secure digital documents. These editable files can help improve workplace collaboration, streamline the document search process and keep your information secure.

Cloud & Mobile Print

Today’s workforce is constantly on the move. How well is your print fleet keeping up? With employees increasingly working from mobile devices like tablets, phones and laptops, it’s imperative that companies have the ability to print from any device. Mobile print is a simple solution that allows users to print from their devices without complex network setups and workarounds.

Cloud print, meanwhile, enables printing from a number of Cloud-based applications, such as Office 365, Google Drive, or DropBox. It also comes with standard Cloud scanning, which allows your employees or students to quickly scan your paper files directly into Cloud applications. This function is especially beneficial for educational institutions looking to integrate learning tools like Blackboard into their daily processes.

Some questions to consider:

  1. Are you consistently printing lots of confidential documents like employee files?
  2. Do you have physical documents you’d like to store digitally?
  3. Is mobile printing important to your business?
  4. Do you create a lot of editable PDFs?
  5. Are you intensively using Cloud applications like DropBox, Blackboard or Office 365?
  6. Are you in the legal, healthcare, education fields?
  7. Do you currently have a way for employees to print from mobile devices?

Conclusion

Picking the right software package for your business doesn’t have to be a confusing endeavor. When you know what you need to achieve with your software, the process will suddenly become a lot less complex.

It’s also important to note that a lot of print solutions, such as PaperCut and Ricoh’s Integrated Cloud Environment, provide capabilities that straddles all three of the levels mentioned above. These software packages will allow you to monitor your fleet and access some of the advanced features outlined above without investing in multiple solutions. If, however, you are looking for specialized features like Bates stamping, a more narrow solution, like Nuance eCopy, might be a better match for what you’re trying to achieve.

In the end, these three categories provide a good baseline to start your search. Once you have considered what sort of features you’ll need, we recommend discussing what available solutions will best help you achieve your goals. As always, our office technology experts are ready to help you find the ideal solution and can be reached at 612-861-4000 or by filling our contact form.

 

6 Questions to Ask When Shopping for a New Copier

new copier shopping guide

Choosing a new copier can be intimidating and dealers don’t always make the process easier. With a litany of technical terms and the overemphasis some dealers place on selling certain models, it’s no wonder that organizations dread shopping for copiers and printers.

However, choosing a new copier doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, it’s actually a breeze if you know the right questions to ask. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of six questions to consider when shopping for a new machine. Answering these queries ahead of time will help remove a lot of the unnecessary stress from the shopping process.

How many copies will I make?

While obvious, the first question you should ask is how many copies you’ll be making per month. If you think your organization will have very light usage, then you can probably get by with a personal machine. If, however, you plan on making thousands of copies monthly, you’re going to need something a little more powerful. Below are some general recommendations from Office Depot based on your average number of monthly copies:

2,000: personal copier
2,000-25,000: business model
25,000-75,000: commercial copier

While these guidelines aren’t perfect, they do provide a good baseline to start the conversation.

Do I need a color copier?

Next, you should ask yourself if you really need a color copier. Black and white copiers can be significantly less expensive than their color counterparts and could save you some money. If you make little to no color copies, a black and white machine will save you from paying for an unneeded feature.

Alternatively, if you do have some color copying needs, consider whether these jobs could be outsourced. For example, customers who perform one or two big color jobs a year, like an annual report, could easily send these projects to a dedicated document services provider. Some dealers, like Metro Sales, even have their own document services division to make this option more convenient for customers.

Do I need managed print?

While technical specifications are commonly the focal point of discussion, you shouldn’t forget about software. Print management software is a powerful tool that can be used across industries to achieve a multitude of goals. For example, print management is often employed in the education sector to track usage and assign print quotas by department. Government groups, meanwhile, rely on user restriction features to keep sensitive documents secure.

Make sure to let your consultant or sales representative know if you’re looking for advanced managed print capabilities. Doing so could save you from having to backtrack down the road. While most modern commercial copiers are compatible with standard print management software, there are some limitations. PaperCut, case in point, works better with certain print languages.

Even if you aren’t considering managed print software at this point, it’s still worth bringing it up. Discussing your options when buying your copier puts you in a better position in the future should you decide to add print management. This is due to the fact that some machines are better suited for certain software solutions and not all dealers offer the same options. Make sure your copier and vendor can handle the software solution you would choose if you added a managed print service. Otherwise, you could end up disappointed when you realize your dealer doesn’t offer your preferred solution.

What graphic capabilities does my machine need?

If you’re going to be doing a lot of color printing and need precise color reproduction, then the graphic capabilities of your printer are going to play a crucial role in your decision. In this case, you should make sure you ask your vendor about maximum print resolution and color control. Production printers generally offer the greatest graphic capabilities and five-color management. Drivers can also influence quality, so ask your consultant about these as well.

How fast should my copier print?

While not important to every organization, print speed can be a major factor within certain industries. If you’re making copies for customers, for example, you’re going to want a copier that’s quick and easy to use. If, on the other hand, you’re getting a copier primarily for office use, an average speed copier will likely do the job just fine.

As always, however, the right solution depends on your individual situation. If you’d like additional help or simply want to gather more information, contact our team of knowledgeable office technology consultants. We’ll happily answer any queries and will even perform an equipment consultation at no charge!

Call us today at 612-861-4000 or contact your local copier dealer.