Print management software exists to help businesses get in control of printer usage, costs, and assets across their network.

With tools ranging from queuing, to security, to nearly everything in between, print management software helps businesses control how and where printers are used, while reducing or streamlining maintenance.

At the same time, most print management tools are wildly different, many don’t even offer the same range of features, and it’s easy to get lost in options. However, there is no “one size fits all.”

Instead, different types of businesses need different solutions, which will affect how and what you choose.

Understanding which print management services you need and why is the first step to choosing a print management solution.

What is your print environment like?

Your print environment encompasses your total print fleet, its assets, users, print volume, toner usage, condition, and other factors. In most cases, this will include details like:

  • Number of printers and their capacity (e.g. personal vs. Office)
  • Number of scanners
  • Total age of equipment and repair status
  • Total volume of print (pages per month, ink/toner per month, etc.)
  • Maintenance

While you might not have all this data, and most organizations don’t, you can estimate most of it.

For example, you should have some idea of how much paper and toner you purchase per month, which will give you a good idea of how much you’re printing.

All of this data is important because it tells you where to start. If you have 500+ personal printers printing an average of about 750 pages a day, your software needs will be intrinsically different than if you have 15 large-scale printers printing about 1,000 pages a day.

You should look at factors such as:

  • Maximum number of printers on the network
  • Maximum number of users on the network
  • Optimization for rooms/offices /geographic locations
  • Ability to track and manage data

The more complex your current print fleet, the more likely you’ll have to do a complete analysis of what you have before moving forward.

What are your print goals?

Understanding your print goals will give you a better idea of what your printer software should actually do. This can help you to prioritize features or the strength of features. Some common print goals might be:

  • Reduce printer usage by 10% to cut waste
  • Reduce printer usage by 30% to meet environmental goals
  • Identify waste and cost in the current printer fleet
  • Optimize printer usage
  • Digitize files across the organization

Each of these goals would require prioritizing different features in a print management solution.

For example, if you wanted to reduce printer usage by 10% to cut waste, you’d want to look at features like print servers and printer queuing.

If you wanted to reduce by 30%, you’d need additional features such as the ability to force fleet-wide standards for double-sided or duplex printing, enforce fonts and font sizes, to force margins, and so on.

And if you wanted to identify waste and cost, you’d want user access management to identify where and how printers are being used inefficiently.

Do you need compliance or security?

Many organizations require print security for compliance, protecting personal data, and for reducing risk across the organization. This might relate to specific industry regulation such as in the medical or finance industry or might relate to individual organizational needs relating to data privacy, protection, and security.

In either case, if you need these features, your print management software should be able to provide it. Here, you want to look for tools like user access management, user prioritization, managed print queues, printer security in the form of passcode or badge printing, and likely encryption and private servers as well.

While the number of features you need will depend on the level of security, it’s important to evaluate your compliance or security needs before you select a print management solution.

Do different users need different levels of access or permissions?

Most organizations can easily create one level of user account with a few administrators and offer most users the same print rights across the organization. You can then force everyone to print in the same ways, to the same standards, and with the same guidelines to reduce costs and waste.

Some organizations need different standards for specific individuals such as managers, graphic design teams, art teams, or anyone else who might frequently either have to print a great deal or print outside of normal limits.

  • Do a select few people have to print more than everyone else?
  • Do some people need more access to color or page design options?
  • Do some people need access to more secure printers/files/or servers?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these, your print management software should include more advanced user access management solutions.

You can then use this to link specific users to specific printers, to change print limits or mandatory options for some users, or to create custom print settings for specific users.

This is useful if you print graphics, booklets, onboarding programs, have specific custom needs, or otherwise need a few people to have more print freedom.

Are you in the process of digitizing files?

Most organizations care a great deal about digitization, and for good reason. Switching to digital reduces storage, increases the security of files, and reduces total costs over the long-term.

If you’re either thinking about digitizing or already doing so, your print management software should reflect this. Many print software management solutions offer digitization tools including file vaults, links to servers, digital scanning to replace print and scan, document management and digital signing, and other tools.

You can prioritize options based on what you need and what you are looking for.

Sourcing print management software

Sourcing print management software can be complex, especially if you’re doing so on your own. You have to look at features, options, and solutions as well as the organization, its reliability, service, and ability to help in case something goes wrong.

For this reason and others, many organizations source print management software through managed print services, which provide a full-service solution including optimized printers, supply management, employee training, print servers, and much more.

Sourcing everything as a total package also ensures everything aligns with goals and needs, that software is fully compatible with every printer in your fleet, and that employees know how to use the new software to make the most of it.

Print management software can add a great deal of value for businesses of all sizes. Whether your goal is to track what you’re printing and what it costs or to actively reach metrics for print usage, digitization, or security, print software can help you achieve those goals.