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How Can You Safely Allow Non-Admins to Install Printers?

Posted by Jordan Pusey

If you look around at different IT environments, you’ll find that many of them adopt a “gatekeeper” approach in which admins hold the keys and grant end users access to various aspects of the infrastructure as needed. This is especially true in print environments where routine tasks like printer installation generally tend to be handled by admins, and the prevailing print management paradigms reinforce this by making tasks like deployment and installation admin-level functions. Even if admins wanted to allow users to install printer drivers and printers themselves, they would often find themselves limited by their print management solutions.

In organizations where admins are able to allow users to install printer drivers and printers on their own, there’s usually some degree of trepidation. And not without good reason. When users are given free rein to initiate driver or printer installation themselves, things can and often do go wrong, which results in the admin having to spend time cleaning up improper installs, replacing incorrect drivers or purging jobs from some random queue they were never supposed to enter in the first place.

With that in mind, there are two major requirements if you want to allow users to install printer drivers and printers without admin rights or admin intervention:

1. Ease of use. For end users to be able to carry out printer installation without hand-holding, the process needs to be simple and transparent. The convoluted process of mapping printers in print-server-based environments is anything but easy and usually requires familiarity won through trial and error before most users are comfortable doing it themselves. At any rate, it’s not something that you could expect new employees to understand on their first day. An intuitive printer installation process that can be grasped by any employee—from top-level veteran executives all the way to temporary freelancers—is the ideal.

2. Zero risk. The very real chance of things going wrong is perhaps the biggest reason why admins are reluctant to allow users to install printer drivers or printers routinely and without supervision. So in addition to being easy to understand and use, the driver and printer installation process has to be virtually foolproof to avoid creating more problems than it solves.

At PrinterLogic, we’ve long regarded end users as a vital but untapped resource in all kinds of print environments. But we also recognize the need to minimize the excess options and complexity that can lead to those same end users making costly mistakes. That’s why our next-generation print management solution empowers end users with a self-service printer installation portal that enables them to easily identify and install nearby printers with a single click. In equipping users with their desired printers, it also allows those users to install printer drivers—that is, the correct and authorized ones—at the same time.

How does it work? It’s as simple as opening a webpage in your browser. Provided your organization has uploaded the optional floorplan maps, the user can easily see where the nearest printer is and click on it to install. That’s it. In large or distributed organizations, the portal has the ability to open right to the user’s physical location based on IP address. Just short of automated dynamic deployments (which, as it happens, our print management solution can also do), it’s the easiest way to allow users to install printer drivers and nearby printers. And the same basic functionality allows IT support staff to carry out printer installation with non-admin rights.

With the “gatekeeper” approach to print management comes a lot of extra work for admins. Thanks to its forward-thinking method of printer installation, PrinterLogic makes it possible for your organization to allow users to install printer drivers as well as printers by themselves—easily and safely. That alleviates the administrative burden of print management and eliminates one of the most common reasons for service desk calls.