Remote print supply management is a common feature for print management software and is delivered by nearly all managed print suppliers (MPS). While normally seen as a “nice-to-have” feature, remote print supply management can cut costs across the organization, especially as more employees work from home. Depending on your MPS provider or software, the function delivers real-time alerts as print supplies run low and may tie into an automatic re-ordering or resupply program.

This is especially important as more employees move to work-from-home contracts but still need print solutions. In fact, with 47% of U.S. work from home employees buying a printer in 2020, home printer sales are at a high. While many organizations are allowing employees to buy these printers at retail prices, the organization is still responsible for paying for the printer and the cost of ink or toner for the machine.

Optimizing print costs is one of the easiest ways to reduce business costs. Remote managing your printers and printer supplies will help to cut those costs.

Printer Management Software

Modern print management software delivers a great deal to improve security and cut costs for print management. You can choose a print software solution such as HP, Equitrac Express, Infinity Cloud, or through a managed print services provider. In either case, you implement software tying all your printers into a single network. This means:

  • All printers log into the same network (locally or via VPN) and pull from the same servers to print
  • Printers are secured using a network-wide firewall and likely an antivirus program
  • All print usage is centrally tracked and logged, with printer data such as ink/toner and paper levels or brush/drum condition sent to a single dashboard
  • Administrators can see printer status in real time to determine which printers need servicing, supplies, or replacement parts

Many printer management software solutions also offer tools to reduce ink and paper waste. These include tools to set print quotas, force font and margin usage, define general print rules, report on unusually high print usage, etc. These allow you to reduce costs by seeing where and how printer supplies are being used.

Building a Secure Print Network

Setting up a print network is the first step to remote managing print.

  1. Select printer software or an MPS provider. If you choose the MPS provider, they will handle everything else for you.
  2. Choose printer solutions that connect to remote networks. Most smart printers are more than capable of meeting needs.
  3. Set up a private network, virtual private network, or implement remote print technology offered through the software you’re using.
  4. Implement access management to ensure every printer is on the network, only approved personnel can access the network, and all data over the network is logged.

The actual processes here can vary considerably, depending on the printer, network type, and software you’re using. For example, HP’s print services allow you to set up printers through the central network and then log them in using the device code. Others require manually adding them to the network from the printer itself following printer setup.

An MPS provider will typically handle everything for you, including delivering and installing printers at home office locations.

Cutting Costs with Remote Print Management

Once your print network is setup, you can use it to start reducing costs. Depending on your solution, your print software will either directly link to a central hub, where administrators can simply order more printer supplies on an as-needed basis, will send alerts when it’s time to order more print supplies, or will simply submit the order. All three options ensure that new print supplies are always available on an as-needed basis, with Just in Time delivery.

Tracking Costs for Work from Home

With as many as 64% of office personnel moving to work-from-home positions, home printing is going up. Organizations remain responsible for printer and print supply costs, but have much less control over how, when, and for what printers are used.

Remote print software allows businesses to track printer usage on a case-by-case basis, see what printers are being used for, and maintain request logs. This means automatically seeing which people need more or better printers, which might need print limitations, and which might need information on digital workflows and digital tooling available to reduce costs.

Here, printer software allows you to cap the number of prints per day, reduce total supply usage by setting printer standards, and flag unusual print requests.

Wholesale Printer Supply Costs

Integrating printer software into supply reorder and management means sourcing all printer supplies wholesale. That can significantly reduce costs, especially over individuals purchasing supplies retail and requesting reimbursement. Depending on the supplier, this may or may not include delivery to remote houses, but it should.

Reducing Printer Downtime

Printer downtime means waste employee time, means bottlenecking projects relying on printed projects, and means holding up IT and helpdesk with print-related calls. While printers already account for an estimated 40-60% of all IT helpdesk calls, reducing that by cutting calls related to low paper and ink/toner supply.

Reducing demand on IT can also considerably cut total business costs, both by reducing employee waste time and by freeing IT up for more value-added activities. Considering IT typically earns between $30-$75 per hour + whatever your employee making the call makes, cost savings can be considerable.

Not all managed print providers or wholesale printer supply companies will be able to ship print supplies to individual homes. This means it’s important to check the capabilities and policies of the organization before signing on. If they do, your organization can save considerably on the cost of print supplies, even across remote and work-from-home offices.

Managed print services (MPS) deliver full remote print management and printer supply management as an automatic part of service. While MPS solutions aren’t for everyone, they do offer a great deal in terms of print cost management, cost reduction, and improved efficiency. If your goal is to cut print costs, they can help. At the same time, it’s important to do a cost analysis to make sure the total service adds value and has a return on investment.