The world of information technology is one of constant change. Centralized mainframe environments gave way to client-server architectures, which later re-centralized applications with the help of thin clients and mobile computing. Meanwhile, Cloud computing, an approach that was just a fuzzy concept ten years ago, is revolutionizing things once again. And at some point, a newer idea will replace that as well.
Regardless of how organizations choose to connect their business applications to the people who use them, there has always been a need to print. Why? Because documents are often the only tangible artifact of all that precious data being processed. (Don’t believe me? Try physically grabbing your home or car or health insurance.)
So, if documents are so important, why does printing always seem to be an afterthought?
Here are some things we’ve heard companies say when explaining why they don’t pay more attention to the way their organizations generate, format, and distribute printed documents:
- “We don’t print very much today, and we plan to print even less in the future.”
Well, this may be the perception of some people in the organization, but the experts say otherwise. According to IDC, organizations around the world print around 3 trillion pages per year. It may have decreased slightly during the last year when people were out of the office, but some predict page counts will rise in the coming year and the adoption of MFPs in office settings is set to accelerate. These devices add scanning functions and document workflow automation into what used to be a simple matter of putting toner on paper. So even when physical print volumes start to decrease, the need to manage documents in a secure manner will still be with us.
- “Printing isn’t that big of a deal. You click print, walk over the printer, and pick up your document. How hard is that?”
In defense of those who harbor this opinion, printing usually is easy for them. Often, this is because they are high up in the organization and have a highly skilled team of technicians working to make sure they never experience a print problem. Not everyone in the organization gets that level of service. If you ask the people who configure and maintain the MFPs, printers, and other hardware; install and update print drivers on the various servers; and troubleshoot user-reported print problems, you’ll learn that printing isn’t so simple after all. Especially when it comes to printing from enterprise backend systems like SAP, Oracle, or EMR solutions. Inefficient or failed printing can impact the performance of these critical line-of-business applications. Which in turn impacts on the bottom line.
- “Okay, printing might not be simple, but it’s sort of like the weather. Problems happen and you can’t change it, you just have to deal with it.”
Great analogy. Think about where you would most like to hunker down during a hurricane or a tornado. Now imagine the similarly robust haven in terms of an output management system. One with qualities like automated error recovery, encrypted delivery of print traffic both while documents are in motion across the network and at rest on a spool server. A system that handles automatic print driver updates across the entire print landscape and highly detailed accounting to track both document security and printing costs.
Managing print traffic by deploying countless disparate Windows Print Servers may work okay on the proverbial “sunny day,” but when storm clouds begin to form on the horizon, a fully integrated output management solution is a safer, more appealing option. And in large organizations, it’s always raining somewhere.
- “My department’s got bigger fish to fry. Optimizing print processes is not a priority for us.”
Again, this may be true. But it is an issue that someone in your organization – or your Managed Print Service (MPS) provider – needs to deal with. And their ability or inability to handle document issues in an effective and timely manner can directly impact the productivity of everyone in your department. So it is in everyone’s interest to understand how print and document issues are being handled.
- “We already have a print solution. More than one, actually. And a document scanning solution. And an electronic document archive. And…”
Then you’re not alone. As organizations grow, merge with other companies, expand to additional parts of the globe, etc., they tend to keep the systems they have and add new ones as required. However, at some point, it makes sense to step back, review the overall environment and think about eliminating redundancies where possible. Replacing a half-dozen legacy printing, scanning, and content management systems with a single, scalable output management solution can reduce complexity and cost. In fact, an integrated solution for managing documents can offer customers more than 400% ROI and a payback period within six months.
Like a lot of things – the condition of your tires, the performance of your furnace, etcetera – it is easy to forget about printing until things start breaking down. LRS can help you identify potential problems and inefficiencies before they impact your business. All you have to do is remember to contact us.