We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: it’s good practice to think of your print environment in relation to the wider business context. In other words, nobody prints in a vacuum. Your print workflow affects all kinds of things, from productivity and budgets to legal compliance and user trends. As such, it needs to be integrated into your wider business intelligence (BI) ecosystem.
This is where print management and exporting print data come into play. Using PaperCut MF, for example, you can take advantage of something called Data Integration . It’s a feature that lets you export daily usage data from PaperCut MF into various third-party tools – things like graphics, BI or accounting systems. Data Integration expands on our suite of in-house reporting features, including inbuilt reports and custom reports .
In this article, we’re going to look at why all this stuff matters, and how integrating your data can really streamline your print management workflow.
Why use data integration?
Using Data Integration, you can now consume, analyze and view usage trends. You can also understand trends of usage overtime to make informed decisions to further optimize your print fleet. It’s basically a no brainer.
Data analysis and reporting. You can run reports right out of PaperCut MF, of course, but many organizations have their own BI and data analysis tools already. So having a print management solution that talks to those systems just makes sense. By using Data Integration, you can get a better overview of your print data, which then improves decision-making.
Cost management. How much is your print environment costing you? If you can’t answer that question, you desperately need some form of integrated print management. Analyzing print costs is often more effective when you can export data to third party tools and get a wide-angle view of how printing fits into your overall budget.
Security and compliance. Third-party BI and accounting systems may offer enhanced security features, or be part of your overall compliance strategy. To make sure no sensitive print data gets compromised, your print management solution needs to integrate smoothly with these existing systems.
User accountability. Using print management software, you can easily implement print tracking, quotas and policies to monitor users and make sure everyone’s printing responsibly. With proper integration, this data can then be fed into wider BI systems, giving you a better overview of user accountability.
Build your own data integration into your BI tool of choice
The good news is, you can easily configure PaperCut’s Data Integration platform to export your print data from PaperCut MF to any third-party BI tool you like. Here’s how it works.
Choose your datasets. Pick whichever datasets make the most sense for your business: users, printers, print scan, copy usage, accounts, servers, whatever you need.
Historical data export. Data integration should allow for a quick export of historical print data, as well as new data moving forward.
Choose output location. Pick which BI or accounting systems you’d like to integrate with. This is basically your data output location.
Build your dashboard. With PaperCut MF, you can build your own interactive dashboard, along with the consumption of data into your BI/reporting system.
Want to get started? We’ve written a handy guide on configuring your data integrations over here .
Pre-built data integration solutions
Some people don’t want to build and customize their own data integration dashboard. And that’s okay. It does require a bit of technical finesse. Luckily, there are a few pre-built, off-the-shelf solutions that can help you set up print management data integration.
Intuitive for PaperCut MF/NG. ** ** Intuitive dashboards help keep volume and costs controlled. They’re also designed to work specifically with PaperCut MF, so you can quickly setup user analytics and keep track of your printing costs.
StoryBoard for PaperCut MF/NG. StoryBoard for PaperCut is another great off-the-shelf solution that plugs right into our print management software. You can launch StoryBoard directly from the Integrations tab in PaperCut.
How to export usage data
You can export usage data by configuring one or both of the following:
- Daily data export. An automatic daily export of your required data.
- Historical data export. An export of any necessary historical data.
Here’s how you set these up:
1. Load up PaperCut. Navigate to [PaperCut MF Install Location]\server\lib-ext\data-integrations
2. Create or copy. Either create a new empty text file with a .properties extension or copy the data-integration.properties.template file and rename it to a new name with a .properties extension. For example, intuitivebi.properties.
3. Edit the file. Use a text editor to open this new .properties text file and add/edit the following:
Choosing the right data integration tool: A guide for IT managers
There are a bunch of factors IT managers and sysadmins should consider when setting up data integration. As always, there’s no right or wrong answer here; only what’s right for you. Every organization has slightly different print management needs, and the same goes for third party data exports.
When you’re looking at data integration, make sure you consider the following factors:
Compatibility and integration. The most obvious one. Your integration tools need to be compatible with your third-party BI systems, as well as your print management system. Make sure it also works with all existing print infrastructure, including printers and print servers.
Supported print protocols. Does the integration tool support standard print protocols like IPP (Internet Printing Protocol), LPD (Line Printer Daemon), or anything else you’re currently using? Most integration tools will, but it’s always worth checking.
Scalability and growth. Whatever data integration solution you choose, you need to make sure it can grow and scale with the organization. Make sure your data integration can also accommodate increasing volumes of print data, without sacrificing performance.
Security features. To protect sensitive print data, make sure you evaluate the security features of any data integration tool. Look for encryption capabilities, secure authentication mechanisms, and compliance with common industry standards.
Ease of use. An often-overlooked factor. Your data integration tool needs to work seamlessly (and, ideally, automatically) with your print management system. There’s no point instituting data integration if nobody on the team knows how it works.
Want to learn more about data integration? Just give our friendly team a call . We can walk you through the process from start to finish.