How to choose a print management vendor
Congratulations! You’ve identified the solution to your printing problem - you need print management software. Your next steps are choosing a print management vendor, figuring out what solution you need, and how you’ll implement it.
What makes a print management solution the right fit for your workplace? Your number one priority is finding software that suits the particular way you work. Organizations shouldn’t fall into the trap of bending their print environment to accommodate a particular print management solution.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to print management software. The answer will change depending on your needs. Here are some key areas you need to consider when researching print management vendors and managed print services providers.
Assess your print environment
Identify your organization’s biggest printing problems. Work with your IT team to understand your print environment’s issues, considering both your current and future states. You may be moving your infrastructure to the cloud, but you’re not tackling print infrastructure for a while. You may want to reimburse workers for printing at home whilst they’re still working remotely, but you may need to provide BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) print submission down the track when they return to the office.
Then research what solutions you’re looking for: cost savings and recovery, tracking and reporting, secure print release, BYOD compatibility, print enablement, sustainability goals, and more. There are so many areas to improve your printing, but the priority and significance will morph depending on your business’s print environment and your end-users behavior.
Scalability: solutions that adapt to your business
Modern businesses aren’t static. They’re elastic. They grow and shrink sporadically. So do workflows that rely on digital transformation and printing. It’s vital that any print management vendor you select can provide a solution that can scale up and down to your printing, copying, scanning, and faxing needs.
Flexibility: hybrid working
Working life, and therefore printing life, changed overnight when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the globe. Printing volumes shrank, but scanning and digital processes boomed. Then, when offices returned to work they weren’t the same. Hybrid working means sporadic end-users in the office who still require device access. Likewise, they need printing supported from home. Print management solutions then also needed to evolve. So demands for the best printing vendor have changed as well. When assessing a print management solution for your organization, it’s important to seek a solution that supports hybrid printing.
The modern working environment is a multi-faceted device and OS environment. Laptops, desktops, Chromebooks, tablets, smartphones… office workers “Bring Your Own Device”, with their own Operating Systems, and sometimes they’re funky legacy variations that you’re not prepared for. A strong print management solution should support print enablement from any device.
Any print management solution should offer security features like secure print release, pull-printing, tracking, logging, and reporting. Beyond this, the foundations of their software should safeguard your print documents across every stage of the print journey: before, during, and after a user presses print. You therefore also want to look for tools and features like encryption of your digital information, card-based authentication, and 2FA. Then truly elite solutions are compatible with Zero Trust environments. Whether you’re protecting your office from simple spills like forgotten or misplaced documents, to locking out hacks and digital attacks. Your printing is part of your overall IT attack surface area, and you need a solution that can offer all the protection your workplace needs.
A print management solution is only as good as the after-care the vendor can offer. As well as technical proficiency behind their solutions, the best print management vendors offer 24/7 technical support in multiple languages in multiple time zones across the globe. And that’s support from a human, not just bots or automated chat engines. Print management vendors and managed print services providers should live a customer-first ethos and provide care across all stages of the print management selection process. That includes providing on-the-ground training and implementation assistance for your IT teams when first installing. A next-level provider will offer that same amount of support during the proof-of-concept (POC) stage when you test and fine-tune a solution to ensure it’s the best print management solution for your organization.
Printing is one of those realms of technology where if you’re unaware of its existence, that means everything is working perfectly. But printing is often a blocker for end-users and sysadmins alike. Printing should be simple, but the limited computing power of printers/MFDs and the complexity of modern working environments mean printing can often interrupt workflows. Print management vendors should provide a product with a consistent experience for users no matter what MFD touchscreen they’re using or what device they’re printing from.
Some print management vendors are tied to specific brands and manufacturers. This can make the implementation of a print management solution tricky if your organization has a mixed fleet of different MFD/MFP brands. During the procurement process, ask your provider if their print management solutions are device and brand agnostic. You want a solution that supports multiple platforms of printers, copiers, and multifunction devices.
Print management is no longer a business process reliant on physical servers. Print solutions have been moving to the cloud and modern print management vendors provide cloud-based printing products to support all cloud environments. Whether your business is set up in the private cloud, public cloud, or hybrid cloud, a truly versatile printing vendor can support cloud printing in all cloud environments. Whether you seek a self-hosted cloud solution or a multi-tenant SaaS cloud print solution, you want a vendor whose solutions are tailor-made and for all cloud architectures.
Printing can be wasteful. Reckless behaviors don’t just eat up costs for ink, paper, and toner. Lawless printing is also harmful to the environment. Many print management tools provide sustainability and waste control benefits. And some print management vendors specialize in sustainability features. Some tools include real-time carbon footprint data such as environmental dashboards at the MFD embedded screen, which helps to drive behavioral change. Beyond this, full print management reporting provides green reports that reflect carbon footprint statistics including CO2 and electricity saved by limiting printing to vital business processes only. Beyond print management features and solutions, some companies partake in green initiatives like tree planting and certification to ensure your printing is a Forest Positive force for the planet’s ecological renewal.
For enterprise companies or any business with a large volume of users and printers/MFDs, High Availability is a key consideration. Your business process needs zero downtime and maximum uptime. When selecting print management software, you want to ensure a solution can provide redundancy, load balancing, monitoring, and failover.
Industry-specific printing needs
What you need from a print management solution depends on your industry. Whether your business is education (k-12 and higher ed), healthcare, co-working, travel, life sciences, legal, utilities, SMB, larger enterprise, government, logistics, construction, travel, you name it, you want to test a printing vendor’s product portfolio and ensure its feature-set and architecture can suit what your vertical needs.
Money savings and cost recovery
Without print management software, your printing bleeds money. You’re looking for a solution that can reduce your consumables like ink, toner, and paper. Features like automated duplex, default to greyscale/black and white, and print policies to ensure restrained and thoughtful printing. But you’re also looking for a print management vendor that can provide tools to directly recover your print costs with features like print quotas.
Digitization - scanning
Scanning is the sibling to printing. And these days it’s that scary, really big-looking sibling. Scanning is more often the primary business process over printing nowadays. Many print management solutions provide tools and features to support digital transformation and digitization workflows. Integrated scanning solutions mean your users can scan and send their jobs to whatever location they require, whether that be on-premises or in the cloud, without having to touch the scan job twice - once at the device, again at their computer. Your print management vendor should support flexible digital workflows and processes.
Talk to your print partner
If you want the TL;DR version of the above advice, the number one must-follow rule is this - talk to your print partner aka your managed print services provider. They’re the experts when it comes to print management solutions, and can help you with everything from the hardware and software rollout, to improving your document processes, and reducing your environmental impact.
Industry-leading, thoughtful printing software
Print management solutions make your printing smarter. No matter what size your business is. Whether you want to cut costs, improve workflows, or hit sustainability targets, the best print management vendor is the one proven to support your business and its future.
PaperCut Software is the #1 print management solution in the world because we have been making printers smarter and more thoughtful for 20+ years and counting. We are driven by the mission to make all printing thoughtful, all while delivering customer-first support across all stages of your business’s journey.
Speak with us today to find out how PaperCut and our partner network can make your printing simple, powerful, and happy.