No time to make changes? Then it’s time for a change.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
by Joachim Lang
Imagine this scenario: you’re sitting in a boat and you’re so busy bailing water out of the hull that you don’t have time to fix the leak. Is it the same when it comes to taking care of your print problems? Do you find yourself in reactive mode rather than proactive mode? Then it’s time to take a closer look at your print management strategy.
In customer visits, I experience many such situations. Every situation is complex and unique. But over time, certain common denominators have emerged that seem to increase administration complexity as well as the likelihood of problems.
- Take, for example, the topic of forms management in SAP. Normally, a customer starts by tweaking the standard SAP forms to meet their particular needs… while forgetting to specify settings like simplex/duplex printing or paper tray selection. These forms subsequently get copied and new variations get created, and at some point, there are 500 to 1000 forms with no paper tray selection specified. To implement paper tray selection, one SAP object is created for every physical device and separate paper tray. For every possible device type (driver), multiple copies are created to handle this tray setting. These printer objects then get names like Printer 1_1, Printer 1_2, etc. For 100 physical printers, you quickly end up with 300 printer definitions. When you later want to make a change, you have so many drivers and forms to modify that you run out of time.
It is possible, however, to reduce the complexity of SAP output management and other server-based business processes without requiring a lot of intervention. Through intelligent analysis of the print data and metadata, it is possible to control the printer resources on the print server without the need to change the SAP forms themselves. In this way, you can specify paper tray selection for forms using only the data contained in the documents.
- How many print-related Help Desk tickets does your organization experience? Which problems keep occurring? How often would the end user have been able to solve the problems on their own? Were such problems inevitable, or could someone have prevented them from occurring in the first place?
Proactive print monitoring can help you identify and deal with many potential issues early in the process — often before they cause actual problems for end user printing.
- For every defined print queue, is there actually a physical printer, or are you maintaining “phantom queues” on your print server for which the corresponding printers no longer exist? Many organizations lack a clear understanding of how their print landscapes are utilized and which devices still exist at all. It’s all too common for departments to request a printer be added to the network and later forget to request deactivation when it is removed.
An extensive print data audit can give you a clear picture and help, over time, to “right-size” your printer landscape. Orphaned queues can be deleted, over- or underutilized printers can be replaced with more appropriate ones. You may even discover which server-based applications still have queues defined for physical printers that no longer exist.
These are just three examples to illustrate the complexity of managing printers and printer data.
Given the appropriate tools, you can easily address these complexities without a time-consuming overhaul of your environment. In the end, you want a lightweight, easy-to-administer print management system that minimizes errors. Our approach consists of four phases:
In Phase 1, we establish a stable, high-performance platform for print management. This makes it possible to track and proactively monitor all print activities. The number of print-related outages goes down. The rollout proceeds very quickly and the changes do not impact the applications.
In Phase 2, we examine your workflows. The consolidation of printer definitions, drivers, and device types results in reduced processor load – including on the application servers. In this phase, we come much closer to achieving a one-to-one relationship between printer queues and physical printers. This greatly simplifies the administration of the central applications. For example, SAP Basis administrators can often offload many print-related tasks to the central Help Desk.
With a versatile centralized system of control in place, customers have the tools to comfortably proceed with Phases 3 and 4 in which they optimize and modernize their business processes. This includes inventory optimization and many other topics to be discussed in future Blog posts.
I know that’s a lot of information to consider. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your local LRS account manager or contact us directly at munich@LRS.com. Thanks!