Printers are undoubtedly one of the more substantial business-related costs, with some organizations spending as much as 3% of total revenue on print. For many, those costs are hidden in network usage, maintenance, and IT support, much of which you can cut down with careful management and switching to modern solutions.

Network impact is a frequently overlooked consideration, but printers can consume massive network resources. Offices with a few networked printers save considerably over using individual printers, but may add a heavy load to existing networks. In addition, print servers are expensive and sometimes difficult to maintain.

These tips will help you improve printer impact on networks, cutting costs, increasing efficiency, and hopefully improving your print fleet.

Integrate Centralized Printer Management

Central management solutions have been pivotal in the modern print revolution are a key feature for services ranging from cloud printing to Managed Print Services. Central print management means IT can manage all printers from a central location, maintaining updates, software, antivirus or anti-malware, and permissions from one location.

This is increasingly important for organizations facing cybersecurity risks from poorly updated printers, especially when overburdened IT staff cannot physically make it to printers to install and manage regular updates.

Centralizing print management requires installing a software solution to do so, but offers numerous advantages:

  • Track and manage printer use
  • Force print standards to reduce total ink and paper usage
  • Integrate user management across the network
  • Implement device management and guest access while maintaining separate printer networks

Most importantly for your network, centralized printer management allows you to implement solutions like print driver standardization, allowing for file-compression and data-usage minimization techniques across the network. For example, using Universal Print Driver technology allows organizations to auto-compress files to PDFs before transfer, to be seamlessly printed at location without loss of quality, and without overburdening networks.

Virtualize Print Servers

Print servers are a weak spot in many print networks, largely because they are costly, time-consuming, and resource-intensive. Small organizations can typically get away with direct-IP printing, but larger organizations cannot do so. Virtualizing print servers or moving to cloud print solutions reduces the demand of print servers, reduces associated costs, and often improves performance and print speed, when utilized with a high-performing network.

Here, virtual printers can reduce associated internal energy costs by 80%, cutting direct costs. You’ll also reduce issues such as storage, server backups, and direct server maintenance, which cuts demand on IT, while moving maintenance to external companies. This is important in larger organizations, where print servers can quickly become a large and tangled maze of interconnected servers and endpoint devices, sometimes with thousands of print queues and drivers to maintain. Switching to virtualized print servers allows your organization to cut direct hardware down to just a few physical devices, simplifying device deployment and reducing total hardware. This does reduce costs, although by how much will heavily depend on your organization and its current print network.

HP suggests that customers using their LRS virtual server solutions saw a 492% ROI, with a break-even point after just 10 months. While this is likely high unless your current print network is incredibly complex, it is true that you can and will save on associated hardware cost.

Optimize Printer Network Traffic

Implementing printer network traffic management and monitoring solutions can help you to greatly reduce issues inside your print network while improving print speeds. Here, solutions can include switching to virtualized printers and implementing user management. However, it should also include a range of automation tools designed to intelligently direct traffic to servers based on network load, to optimize print based on load, and to alleviate congestion in both print server and virtual environments.

Some of these solutions might include direct caching, direct IP printing for specific printers and hosts (endpoint-to-printer printing), and WAN caching to reduce total network load. While your capability to do so heavily depends on existing technology, most MPS providers will install these technologies as part of network optimization to improve print speed and reduce demands on the network.

Integrate Standardization

Lack of standardization often forces organizations to utilize multiple implementations, to avoid cost-saving measures such as caching or compression, and to spend more time and resources on installations and deployments. Implementing standardization for print drivers, print software, hosts, and endpoint brands will greatly reduce this problem.

How does that work? Standardizing drivers across your organization means users can log in through a portal to quickly locate and install nearby printers, even through Citrix or VMWare. They won’t need additional network resources, just local files because every printer is standardized. Print drivers remain the same across the network, allowing for better file compression, better management standards, and increased control over pull and mobile printing.

Today’s print solutions offer new and better ways to control print, reduce costs, and to improve print efficiency. Moving to managed print services, where you have access to solutions like virtual print servers and cloud printing, standardized print drivers, and centralized management can help you to utilize most of those technologies. Printing is an expensive and resource intensive business service, and that won’t change, but taking charge of how you print and print over network will help to reduce those costs.