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What can I learn from analyzing print usage data?

Quick question: how much does your business print each year? If you don’t know the answer, it might be time to invest in some print management software. After all, if you don’t know how much you’re printing, or who’s actually printing it, you don’t know how much it’s costing you. Information – in this case print data - is quite literally currency.

Print data and print analysis is a growing field for this very reason. Businesses want to become more efficient when it comes to printing, cutting costs and shrinking their footprint, and print management software is one of the best ways to get an insight into your organization’s printing habits.

What is print usage data?

Print usage data is information collected from printers and computers on a network. It’s an overview on:

  • How printer resources are actually used within an organization
  • Your total print volume
  • How much paper you’re chewing through
  • Your print frequency
  • Document names, file sizes, print settings
  • Who’s printing in color
  • The cost of your consumables

If it can be measured, print management software will measure it, and all this information falls under the general umbrella of print usage data.

How to collect and analyze print usage data

The easiest way to collect and analyze print data is through print management software, like PaperCut. This isn’t the only method – you can go through managed print services, too, or enable simple printer usage logging on your devices – but print management software gives you the best combination of flexibility, affordability, and robust analytical tools.

Most third-party print management providers have built reports and analytics right into the platform, so you can see and manage all your print data through one handy dashboard. So, what are some metrics you should be looking at?

Print volume. The total number of pages you’re printing over a specified period.

Print frequency. How often print jobs are logged, and who’s logging them.

Printer usage. Which printers are being used the most? Do you actually need all the printers on your network?

Job details. With print management software, you can track document names, file sizes, ink usage, and even orientation.

Print costs. Does one department have a higher print cost profile than another? Why might that be?

Print trends. See when the busy print times are and ramp up your network accordingly.

Environmental impact. Complement your ESG reports with paper usage, ink usage, energy consumption and other sustainability metrics.

What are the benefits of cloud print solutions?

Cloud print and print data usually go hand-in-hand. So, what are some of the big benefits of cloud printing? We’ve covered these in more detail before, but here are the basics:

Reduced hardware and maintenance. No more buying, installing, and updating print drivers by hand. The cloud service provider takes care of everything.

Productivity and convenience. With cloud print, staff can print seamlessly from any device, in any location. It’s a good way to reduce print queues and downtime.

Innovation and agility. Thanks to the cloud, when new printer tools come online, they are applied to your print environment instantly, no patches required.

Security and compliance. Need to comply with GDPR, HIPAA or PCI DSS? Cloud print has robust, compliant security features, including end-to-end encryption.

Scalability. Cloud print makes it easy to add or remove printers and is easily managed from a central location no matter what your organization’s footprint is.

How to use print analytics and reports

Print management software platforms generally make it pretty easy to run reports. You don’t need an advanced degree in data science or anything.

In the case of PaperCut, you’ll see a Reports page on your print management dashboard. Users can generate reports by selecting the date range and choosing their format. You can limit print reports to one particular department, one office, one group of users, or even a job type. Want to see how many people are wasting color ink on simple documents? It’s all right there. Need to compare print costs over time? PaperCut stores and logs historical print data, so you can easily compare one year against another.

How to implement effective print policies

Now that you’ve got an oversight of your print activity, you can begin to tweak and change it. This is where print rules and policies come into play. Using print management software, you can incentivize your staff to print more efficiently, and more sustainably. So how does that work in practice?

Print rules. Want to cut down on paper waste? Implement a print rule that sets duplex printing as the default for every job. Boom – you just halved your paper costs.

Pop-ups. Use pop-ups and reminders to gently nudge user behavior. For example, PaperCut includes pre-built print scripting that can prompt someone to select duplex on large jobs even if they’ve forgotten, or to use a different setting.

Alerts. Some documents should never be printed (like that 30,000-page finance report). With print management, you can set a print script to warn users when they’re about to print something enormous.

Detecting anomalies and security threats

Print management is also a great way to detect anomalies and security threats on your network before they become a serious problem. With the right security setups, you can easily monitor printer devices and network connections for unusual or unauthorized activity. Print management software also uses robust data encryption protocols, like SSL/TLS encryption, to make sure your print data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. We’ve covered cloud print security in more detail over here.

Enhancing print infrastructure efficiency

Print analysis and print management provides one centralized platform for handling all aspects of your print infrastructure, including printers, print queues, drivers, users and print policies. This helps streamline admin tasks, for sure, but there are a bunch of other benefits too:

Automated print job routing. Print management software can automatically route jobs to the most appropriate printer. This optimizes job distribution and reduces user wait times.

Print queue management. Finally, admins can monitor and manage print queues in real time, prioritizing certain print jobs, or adjusting print settings as needed. This is a good way to prioritize mission-critical documents.

Remote printer support. With cloud print set up, can print from any device, and admins can remotely troubleshoot, or deploy printer drivers. It’s a more efficient use of everyone’s time.

How to benchmark print data across different devices

With print management software, you can quickly benchmark print data across different devices, machines, and even departments. This lets you quickly check performance metrics, like print speed, print quality, cost per page, and energy consumption. Armed with this print data, you can make smarter business decisions and shrink the overall cost of your printing. Some common benchmarking criteria include pages per minute, print resolution (dots per inch), cost per usage (including consumables and maintenance) and duty cycle (maximum monthly print volume).

If you don’t measure it, you can’t fix it. That’s true of business analytics, and it’s true of print data. If you want to explore print analysis and print management in more detail, give one of our team a call. We can recommend a print management solution to suit your business.



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