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:
- Do you know how much you’re spending on printing?
- What’s your print volume?
- 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:
- Does your office spend a lot printing unneeded color documents?
- Are your employees using duplex printing or other cost-saving options whenever possible?
- Are you having trouble tracking your printing costs or maintaining supplies?
- 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.
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.
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:
- Are you consistently printing lots of confidential documents like employee files?
- Do you have physical documents you’d like to store digitally?
- Is mobile printing important to your business?
- Do you create a lot of editable PDFs?
- Are you intensively using Cloud applications like DropBox, Blackboard or Office 365?
- Are you in the legal, healthcare, education fields?
- Do you currently have a way for employees to print from mobile devices?
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.