As security and cost-cutting become more prominent themes within enterprise IT, organizations are coming to the realization that true print management is about more than adding and removing printers. It’s also about oversight. That’s prompted many organizations to conduct their first comprehensive print audit—often with the further intention of making it the start of an ongoing print-audit process.
A print audit is a great way to get a good fix on the state of your entire print environment and brighten the corners that get overlooked during day-to-day printer administration. Without intuitive, centralized print management, who has the time or resources to monitor specific print activity when there are five angry users waiting for a printer to be deployed? In terms of security, a print audit gives your organization the detail necessary to assess and manage potential risks. And in terms of cost savings, a print audit can help you identify where, say, consumables usage is unusually high.
Getting Started with Your Print Audit
Although I will discuss how you can radically simplify the print-audit process below, under most circumstances a thorough and useful print audit is no small task. Here are some basic questions you’ll want to ask as you get started. At the outset, these mostly relate to cost.
- High-volume networks: Are there networks or departments in your organization with high print volumes? Are their print volumes expected to be higher than others, and by how much?
- Grayscale versus color: What’s the ratio of color to grayscale printing in your organization? Is that anticipated, or does it seem like many end users are defaulting to color printing when they don’t have to?
- Print-job costs: Now that you’ve quantified consumption, what’s the actual cost of that paper, ink and toner? How much could your organization be saving by curbing excess?
Identifying and trimming this kind of waste is the easiest place to start seeing immediate gains through your print audit.
Some organizations gather this data by delving through the logs of their print-management solution for things like page counts. That’s incredibly time-consuming and is one of the most inefficient ways to conduct a print audit. Other organizations install discrete print-tracking software with the express purpose of auditing. However, you should bear in mind that that can have its drawbacks too. Most off-the-shelf print-tracking software introduces yet another solution into the print environment, which compounds the administrative burden and can cause compatibility issues with the existing print-management solution.
A Deeper Dive
Once you’ve identified cost-saving opportunities, whether that’s by combing through logs or using dedicated print-tracking software, it’s time to look at print activity that can pose a threat to the security of your organization.
- Confidential documents: These can include anything from top-secret intellectual property to patient healthcare records. Which users have access to these sensitive documents and how frequently are they printing them?
- Large print jobs: A single user frequently initiating large print jobs can be an indicator of potential risk in your print environment. Does it look like large print jobs are regularly originating from one account or one workstation? And if it’s not a security risk, is it at least a cost-saving opportunity?
- Printing outliers: While every company has its early birds and night owls, one warning sign of illicit activity is a lone employee initiating print jobs very late at night or very early in the morning. Are there print jobs that fall far outside the window of typical working hours? What about other unusual print habits?
None of these indicators on its own is necessarily proof of a security breach, of course, but together they could have the makings of one. This is where it pays to be proactive rather than responsive, and the need for constant monitoring and vigilance becomes apparent. The problem is that conventional print-tracking software can’t always alert you when one of these criteria is triggered. Oversight becomes a matter of hindsight.
Choose PrinterLogic for an Efficient, Comprehensive and Ongoing Print Audit
PrinterLogic’s integrated print-auditing capabilities make it possible for organizations to gather both high-level and detailed data about the print activity throughout their environments. Beyond that, its powerful print-reporting capabilities also make it possible to interpret that data to spot individual anomalies as well as larger trends.
Here are just a few print-audit data points you can capture with PrinterLogic:
- Printers with the heaviest use
- Print jobs arranged according to date, user, job title, document name, duplexing and much more
- Grayscale and color usage
- The company’s heaviest print users
- Departmental print volumes based on week, month or quarter
- The actual cost of print jobs calculated through current real-world consumable costs
Unlike ordinary print-tracking software, this functionality is a fully integrated part of our solution and as a result allows administrators to email periodic reports with breakdowns of this information to department heads, C-level executives and other decision-makers automatically.
And with PrinterLogic’s centralized print management and easy-to-use administrative tools, organizations can actually act on what they uncover through a print audit. Admins can set limitations and quotas on printing, which can help to shape printing behavior across the enterprise. With this combination of print-management data and tools, organizations of any size can establish a secure, cost-saving printing strategy in line with current best practices. That’s not unlike what distributed organizations like OhioHealth (read the case study here) have done after implementing PrinterLogic.
If your organization is ready to eliminate print servers through our serverless print infrastructure while also gaining the advantages of centralized print management and comprehensive print auditing, sign up for a demo and test PrinterLogic in your print environment for 30 days completely free of charge.