Printer Buying Guide: Shopping Checklist

Your guide to choosing the best printing hardware and services for your small or medium business

Every enterprise owns, and regularly replaces, printers, copiers, multifunctional products and fax machines. The problem most face is not too few choices, but too many. How do you even begin to select the right one?

Once an enterprise has undertaken a thorough needs assessment and reviewed relevant technologies, there are other factors that should be considered.

Here, in part three of Computerworld Australia's guide to buying a printer for the enterprise we present a shopping checklist that takes into account emerging trends and workplace changes likely to impact purchasing decisions.

See part one: Printer Buying Guide: FAQ

See part two: Printer Buying Guide: Technology Checklist

Mobility and electronic communications

Greater mobility and the use of devices like media tablets, as well as applications such as video calls, telepresence, messaging and e-mail will impact an organisation’s printing requirements. By 2015, Gartner predicts 60 per cent of knowledge workers will use at least three screens in their primary PC work space. Content will increasingly be screen shared and in voice and/or video format which will mean that the need to print will decline. Gartner estimates one in 10 printed pages will migrate to screen, voice or video. This should also be taken into account when purchasing.

Fleet management software

One of the first desktop commands most people learn is “print” knowing that the printed document will shortly appear in the tray. Gartner says this is likely to change as more software is used to divert documents or subject it to further scrutiny before it reaches the tray. Some users already experience this when they use swipe cards at the printer or MFP then view a list of their pending print jobs on the control panel. This function, known as pull printing, circumvents the Windows printer queue so users can retrieve pending jobs from any printer, not just the default one. There is also a second chance to delete unnecessary print jobs, it eliminates clutter at the printer and protects documents from office busybodies. Gartner predicts more organisations will depend on this type of fleet management software as it reduces page volumes by about 10 per cent. The research firm recommends organisations investigate this software when purchasing printer hardware and services.

Security

Like all other areas of IT, security needs to be taken into account when shopping for printers. Pull printing and related solutions can help secure business plans, customer lists, hire offers, staff records and financials. Every enterprise must consider privacy legislation and other regulations to protect information.

Virtualisation

As other centralized approaches to computing, such as hosted virtual desktops converge with cloud computing, centralised printing will pull more pages away from Windows print servers. Gartner forecasts that hosted virtual desktop users will increase from 8.6 million in 2010 to 73.5 million in 2014.

Managed Print Services (MPS)

Gartner strongly recommends the use of MPS to reduce capital and supplies cost as well as improve document workflows. For customers already using MPS Gartner says minimize the need for costly software licenses by investigating the printing limitations of the specialised applications developed in packages such as SAP, Oracle and thin client architectures. When considering MPS expand the scope of your needs assessment to include the non-Windows printing needs as well.

Glossary of Terms

MFPs: Multi Function Products

PFO: Printer Fleet Optimization

CPS: Cloud Printing Services

MPS: Managed Printing Services

SMFPs: Smart Multifunction Products

PPM – Pages per Minute

CPP – Cost Per Page

DMS – Document Management Systems

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