Miss the point? Not really.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
by Jeff Lecko
Let’s get to the point: a lot of people think of LRS software as an all-encompassing, industrial-strength solution to print problems in huge, complex environments. “Our problems aren’t that big,” you say, “Which is why I’m looking at a small point solution for my organization’s desktop printing. VPSX software would be overkill for our requirements.”
What you may not know is that compared to the point solution you’re considering, the equivalent LRS solution is likely a better fit for every criteria you value. Let’s consider two for starters.
Criteria 1: Cost
Yes, the gorilla in the room. True, VPSX software is used to manage printing in some of the largest enterprises in the world. Organizations with tens of thousands of printers and applications running on platforms ranging from mainframe to mobile. Companies spend a lot of money on print networks, though in fairness the portion due to LRS software is dwarfed by the cost of the printers and MFPs in the environment… and far less than the cost of business process failures. Cue the ROI tutorial.
But you’re correct; if your immediate need is only to eliminate Windows print servers in your desktop environment, you can do without all the bells and whistles. And most of the cost.
Did you know that there are several pre-packaged LRS solutions specifically designed to meet these immediate needs? They come with only the features that are required for say, desktop print management (VPSX/Workplace), or direct IP print management (VPSX/DirectPrint), or secure pull printing (MFPsecure). They are also priced to compete with the single solution options on the market, but with one big difference.
Regardless of which of these focused print management solutions you choose, you will not risk “painting yourself into a corner” with technology that can’t meet your changing needs. For example, if today you only need to manage printing from physical and virtual workstations, you can start with just that functionality. But in the future you may need to print from SAP or other business applications, or store copies of reports electronically for web viewing, or implement end-to-end document encryption. If so, you can simply “snap on” that new functionality to your existing system without starting over.
Criteria 2: Simplicity
The simpler the requirement — basic desktop or pull printing, for example — the easier and faster it is to implement the LRS solution. LRS has learned lessons from large installations, lots of them. We know what needs to be done and how to get it done with minimal mess and fuss.
For a moment, let’s think about how things really work in your organization and about the true state of your print infrastructure. Let’s say you are tasked with adding a new feature, like an interactive self-service print portal or a pull printing solution that lets users retrieve their print jobs by tapping an ID badge at a nearby printer. If you purchase a separate point solution to address each of these requirements, then you will likely need to repeat many configuration steps multiple times.
There is also that insidious reality that we all live with in IT (especially when dealing with end user facing solutions) called “scope creep.” One day, your solution works with the models of printers that you originally tested with, but the next day several new printer types are added and they print garbage. Plus, the boss has figured out that she cannot “badge print” her jobs if they originate anywhere besides her desktop. And she needs that capability. Today.
Now you are stalemated. The cost of multiple point solutions starts to add up to more than what a proper solution would have cost to begin with. Implementation and maintenance now requires that you touch multiple solutions for every change, and your solutions don’t play well with each other, so your users don’t use them. So much for saving time and money.
In closing, I offer the following analogy: imagine you are responsible for the infrastructure of a large, centuries-old city. You have been tasked with supervising an expansion to the city infrastructure, but it must integrate with the existing components, some of which are very old and poorly documented. All of the infrastructure, old and new, must continue to operate during the construction phase.
What type of engineering firm would you turn to for help? What technology would you use? Would you go online and find multiple small firms that each have experience in a specific portion of the work, but never the entire project? Would you purchase technology and materials that were designed for light duty or temporary use? Not likely.
You are in a similar position today. No matter what the requirements of your task are now, you will find unexpected requirements, sometimes “show stoppers.” Like Sisyphus, you will likely never finish a project before new requirements emerge. Choose your solutions and partners wisely. With LRS, you will always have the right software for the situation and the most experienced team on your side.