by September 5, 2008 0 comments



Printers is the most common piece of equipment found in every office, with
its importance varying according to the type of organization. Think about the
organization whose work revolves around printing i.e. print media, banking, etc.
The management issues related to printing in these sectors are huge and complex
with lot of cost associated, which in turn could be optimized if proper policy
is followed. On the other end of spectrum are organizations that take only one
or two prints per day or even lower. For these organizations printing
requirements are simple and minimal with very low associated cost. In this
article we would throw light on different types of printing solutions available
in market along with total cost associated with them and some outsourcing policy
that can be followed to save money and resources.

There are two major categories of printers available for enterprises: Laser
printers and Multifunctional devices (MFDs). One point to be noted here is that
color inkjet printers are still used where print quality is a constraint but
their usability is limited. Having a deployment policy in hand before thinking
about buying is must, where deployment policy identifies points on network,
where printers can be attached based on different parameters like network
traffic, maintenance, and accessibility. One approach is to carry pre-deployment
tests using isolated test network.

Color or Monochrome?
The decision of buying enterprise level color or monochrome printers is very
subjective and totally depends on requirement of organization. Consider example
of big telecom enterprise that wants to print customer bills, where the numbers
of pages to be printed are in millions. The cost of printing may increase if
color is used for printing the entire bill, but if color is used to highlight
only certain portions of the bill it might not affect the cost majorly. At the
same time usage of color may help in branding and improvement of user
experience. Therefore decision of striking balance between cost and user
experience is very crucial and one has to define its need before going for that.
And with lowering price of laser color printing, more and more organizations are
using color to appeal existing and potential users.

Specialized or MFD?
Standalone laser printers are good where space as in real state is not a
constraint and the infrastructure for other devices like copier, fax, etc is
already in place. On the other hand MFDs are optimal for organizations where
space is a constraint and there is good requirement for other functionalities. A
single MFD with its print, scan, and copy capability can easily support a
department or a floor. The only visible issue with MFDs is underutilization of
features.

The next question to answer is: What to look in before buying? The answer to
this question lies in balance of three parameters: price (total cost of
ownership), performance, and features. Here by performance we mean high PPM
(pages per minute), low warm-up time, high tray capacity, enhanced media
support, and low maintenance.

Outsourcing
Outsourcing is fast becoming popular with its great success in BPOs where
customer support business is outsourced. Now the printing functionality of the
organizations is also walking the same road. The whole printing infrastructure
and process could now be outsourced to third party.

This process can considerably reduce cost and resources associated with
printing process. Even in outsourcing one can choose from two options of offsite
and onsite printing. In onsite as the name suggests third party vendor installs
printer in your office premises and takes care of printing process. In offsite
printing pages or documents to be printed are sent to vendor where printing
process is done. Outsourcing is great boon for printing intensive domain and
lots of companies have successfully cut their budgets by outsourcing their
printing work. Though outsourcing potentially lowers cost but if not done in
proper manner, it may lead to loss of control and security issues as material to
be printed goes to third party vendor.

Printing policies and technology offerings
In this section we would be covering some enterprise-level printing
solutions offered by leading vendors. The competitive market of printing has
compelled leading vendors to think out of box, this has given birth to some
innovative ideas like outsourcing. Here are few initiatives by leading vendors.

Charging back (HP)
To cut operational costs organizations can charge departments or individuals
for printing in color. This will make internal users more responsible regarding
printing and at the same time save resources. This will also make printer
billing more rational amongst different departments of same organizations. To
deploy this kind of model for HP products there are vendors that offer tracking
technologies like SafeCom Tracking, CapellaTech Megatrack, etc.

Gloss Mark (Xerox)
This is way on inserting digital information onto printouts that cannot be
duplicated using scanning or photocopying. This is kind of water marking of
printouts to protect it. This technique can also be used for customization of
documents.

Fixing-film (Canon)
The time taken to heat up metallic roller inside printer is high, to reduce
this time very thin metallic sheet is used instead that heats up and cools down
quickly. This technique makes printing devices more efficient and saves time.

Protection
Printers come with built in authentication mechanism for protecting privacy
of document to be printed. Consider a situation where one wants to print a
private document on shared printer, one just has to give print command and later
when he/she has time authenticate and print.

E-mail facility
There are MFDs packed with e-mail facility and storage space. This feature
adds more functionality as one can create customized folders on MFD where
documents can be stored and if required mailed. To protect privacy of documents
access control mechanism can be implemented on documents stored.

Print 2.0 (HP)
To overcome growing challenges in printing domain HP has introduced Print
2.0 plan for enterprises that includes HP printing products, services, and
solutions. Print 2.0 has three components to make printing process and
management simple and efficient. These components are: Optimize infrastructure,
Manage environment, and Improve Workflow.

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