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Centralising print services for more effective printer fleet management

Despite a move towards printing less, the reality is that with growing volumes of information, organisations are actually printing more than ever. As printing remains a vital component of any enterprise, managing printer fleets is critical to controlling costs, minimising wastage and ensuring adequate levels of security.
In light of this requirement, a growing trend has emerged away from individuals or teams having their own desktop printers and toward a more consolidated approach. Enterprises are increasingly looking to centralise their printer fleets on a departmental basis. Not only does this help to simplify management, it also offers a number of additional benefits to organisations, such as improved costing, enhanced security and better control.

Printing challenges

As printer technology has advanced, printers themselves have become less costly and as such individual users or small teams have increasingly made use of their own printers. However, while this may add convenience for the user, for the organisation itself it has become a major challenge. Growing teams, increasingly distributed workforces and different departments following different procurement strategies has resulted in many organisations having to manage fleets of hundreds of printers. Furthermore, these fleets include different models, from different vendors, each with its own software, security and updating requirements, not to mention its own model and brand of consumables. This has created enormous complexity in the printer environment, which makes control difficult to achieve, opens enterprises to potential security vulnerabilities, and increases print costs.

In an effort to regain control of the printer environment and address these challenges, many organisations have begun to reintroduce centralised print services. Instead of making use of tens, hundreds or even thousands of small desktop printers, which are costly to run and have limited lifespans and page yields, large organisations are now opting to implement enterprise-class printers per floor, per department or per branch, depending on the number of users. This reduces the number of printers in the fleet significantly, which means that management and control are vastly simplified.

Reducing complexity

By reducing the number of printers in a fleet, enterprises can implement larger, more cost effective printers that deliver a more reliable service, higher page yield, reduced Cost Per Page (CPP) and additional functionality such as stapling, binding, hole punching and more, should this be necessary. This in turn reduces complexity for the IT department, as it is no longer necessary to maintain libraries of software for thousands of different printers, or ensure that they each receive the latest software and security updates. It also reduces complexity with regard to consumables, as it is no longer necessary to stock many different toners or inks for each model. Higher page yield of enterprise-class toners also ensures that consumables do not need to be replaced as frequently, simplifying several administrative tasks.

In addition, centralised enterprise-class print solutions featuring fleet management software can help organisations to ensure policy and security controls. For departments that do not require colour, this feature can be disabled. Departments that do not require best-quality prints can be defaulted to using draft print mode and duplex printing. Additional print services can be tailored according to the different needs of various user groups. Features such as secure print release can be enabled to ensure a print job will only be completed when a user goes to the printer and swipes their access card or enters a PIN number. This ensures confidentiality and also prevents wastage from forgotten prints. This feature can also be used for accurate cost allocation, as it is possible to determine on a highly granular level which departments and users are printing what.

Advantages of centralised printing

The benefits of simplified fleet management through centralised printing include improved cost control and allocation, reduced operational costs, reduced CPP for printing, simplified management and processes, and improved security. A reputable print supplier will be able to assess the environment, determine how many printers will be needed to meet the businesses requirements, and offer the most cost-effective service offering, whether this is a managed print service or a consolidated offering to simplify in-house fleet management.

In order to meet growing print demand, organisations are increasingly looking to decrease their physical printer fleet footprint while increasing functionality and yield of individual devices. Eliminating expensive, wasteful and hard to manage desktop units, and replacing them with a smaller number of strategic, highly functional units, will help enterprises to improve cost control, reduce wastage and simplify their print environment.

About Caron de Fortier

Caron de Fortier is the HP Printers and Supplies Business Unit Manager at DCC.

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