A Basic Guide to Printer Fleet Management

IT directors often struggle with managing a complex printing environment among all their other critical responsibilities. Effective print fleet management can help leaders find innovative, cost-effective ways to cut costs and optimize efficiency. 

Mastering print fleet management can help organizations better monitor print usage, even when spread across different sites and locations. Though keeping costs down without compromising the quality of print workflows can be challenging, the right printer fleet management software solutions and strategies can lead to efficiency improvements that may lead to significant savings over time. 

Take control of your printing fleet with Managed Print Services from imageOne.

Why is Printer Fleet Management So Important?

Efficient printer fleet management can dramatically improve the efficiency and productivity of an organization. Though it may sound easy to implement strategies to reduce print and paper waste or enable the device’s energy-efficient settings, other, more nuanced ways to optimize your printing environment can create meaningful business impact.

Printers and copiers, though necessary to most business operations, can silently drain resources if not monitored and managed effectively. Thus, implementing a strategic print fleet management solution can be the best way to streamline operations, reduce frustration, and save your IT budget

Common Challenges in Print Environments

Even the most knowledgeable and qualified IT teams might not be printer experts. A lack of print expertise can be challenging to overcome with internal resources alone. Some of the common roadblocks found in a business print environment include: 

  • Managing print costs
  • Minimizing downtime
  • Maintaining device reliability
  • Ensuring efficient usage
  • Mitigating security vulnerabilities
  • Excessive maintenance
  • Remote fleet management in hybrid work environments

Characteristics of Effective Printer Fleet Management

Print fleet productivity creates a positive ripple effect throughout an organization, providing direct and indirect benefits for the overall business and the IT director’s day-to-day responsibilities and activities. 

Printer fleet management can be a highly effective strategy to help your business improve efficiency and productivity. Below, we’ll describe some of the favorable characteristics you’ll find in organizations that efficiently manage their printer fleets. 

Stress-Free, Transparent IT Workflows

IT directors can better visualize printing workflows when managing their fleet with one central solution or print management software. A central solution makes it easier to address print queue issues and monitor usage, helping to support more informed decision-making. Leaders don’t have to make assumptions about their fleet and can have a real-time view of performance for better peace of mind. 

Few Print-Related Interruptions and Inefficiencies

With effective management, organizations can minimize printer downtime and ensure consistent availability of these devices for employee use. A good management strategy can help organizations proactively monitor toner levels, paper jams, and maintenance needs by addressing issues early – before they lead to more severe disruptions. 

Security and Compliance Assurance

An organization’s printers can be prime targets for hackers, putting sensitive data at risk. Quocirca’s Global Print Security Landscape 2023 report confirmed the prevalence of print-related data breaches. Their report found that 61% of respondents reported at least one data loss in the last 12 months, with an estimated average cost of £743K per breach. 

With effective fleet management, however, a company’s printers receive regular maintenance and security patches and updates, helping to prevent breaches or vulnerabilities that bad actors could exploit. Effective fleet management should include adopting a zero-trust security approach, implementing regular security monitoring, and conducting timely remediation to prevent breaches.

Supporting Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility

Many modern businesses aim to become more sustainable and employ eco-friendly practices. Printing can be a significant source of paper waste and energy usage for a business, so effective fleet management can help them become more efficient and cut down needless consumption. According to some estimates, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper annually!

Ready to maximize your print fleet? Recharge your managed print processes.

How to Manage a Printer Fleet

Managing a fleet of printers is a multi-faceted process. It requires you to reflect on your organization’s usage patterns and printing needs and adapt your workflows, policies, and practices accordingly. The following is a list of essential strategies that can help you reduce costs and improve efficiency. 

Assess and Strategize Your Print Environment

First, perform a detailed audit of your existing fleet and print environment. This print environment assessment will help you understand your current print costs, the age and number of print devices you have, and other critical information. 

Overall, the audit will create a foundation for a strategic print management plan. It helps uncover areas for improvement and what you’re already doing well, ensuring you address any fundamental inefficiencies or outdated devices. 

Right-Fit Your Print Fleet

As they scale, some organizations will prematurely expand their printer fleet. They anticipate greater demand from their increased headcount, though this may only sometimes be necessary. For instance, not every employee needs an individual printer in their office. You might not even need a separate printer on each floor in your office. 

Thus, the next step in managing a printer fleet is aligning, or “right-sizing,” the types and number of devices connected with actual business needs. In some cases, we’ve seen organizations consolidate their fleet from 300 to 60 machines without losing efficiency. 

Implement Usage Policies and Training

You must also establish clear usage policies and communicate these to staff. For example, you could provide guidelines around what can be printed in color ink. You might also encourage staff to print double-sided or limit themselves to a certain number of printed pages per week. 

Engage in regular staff training to ensure the efficient use of printing resources, aiming to prevent unnecessary print jobs that only waste paper, toner, and energy consumption. 

Establish Routine Maintenance

Regular printer maintenance can prolong the machine’s life, improve print quality, and reduce costly breakdowns and frustrating downtime. Maintenance might include:

  • Regular cleanings of the print heads and nozzles
  • Dusting of roller trays and sensors
  • Replacing toner cartridges
  • Updating the firmware to ensure optimal and efficient performance 

Automate Printing Workflows

Implementing certain workflow automation tools can streamline print operations and reduce costs. This automation could include document automation programs to make it quicker and easier to manage forms and files digitally. As a result, you no longer have to print off and manually exchange important documents with clients or colleagues, helping save valuable time and printing resources. 

Protect Printer Security

Effective printer management requires robust print security, especially for network printers. Printer security is a growing issue impacting most organizations. Our document security experts found that 66% of IT managers believe their printers contain viruses or malware. Businesses must take the appropriate action to implement solutions that help them safeguard sensitive information, such as correct document routing, deleting unnecessary print jobs, and more. 

Streamline Workflow Efficiencies

Overall, better print management can help you enhance workflow efficiency, leading to better organizational productivity. You can centralize print management with automation tools and integrate with document management systems, making for easier printer monitoring that takes less of the IT director’s time. 

Managed Print Services: Managing Your Printing Fleet

The above strategies can help you manage your fleet more effectively. However, a certain synergy exists between doing it yourself and using managed print services (MPS). While it might be easy for your team to identify that you have too many printers or are wasting too much paper, implementing the right strategies and tools to mitigate these issues might require more time and dedicated expertise than your IT team has. 

Quocirca reports that 39% of organizations using MPS are very satisfied with their print supplier’s security capabilities, compared to only 23% of those not using MPS. Outsourcing printer management tasks to a trusted provider can help you mitigate common printing environment challenges. Below, we’ll provide a better look at what it is like to start working with a managed print service provider like imageOne. 

The Benefits of Partnering With an MPS Like imageOne

Consider the key benefits of managed print services vs. doing it yourself. An MPS provider can eliminate the burden of managing fleet printers from your IT team’s busy schedule. You can rely on the provider’s expertise to help you reduce costs, enhance document security, boost workflow efficiency, handle maintenance, cut down on paper waste, and provide a convenient end-user experience. Managed print services can often reduce IT help desk tickets, creating further efficiencies. 

As your MPS partner, imageOne will take the time to fully understand your current print processes. Our team creates a custom strategy with recommendations to optimize your unique operations, such as eliminating your print servers for remote work or installing new devices based on usage levels. 

imageOne: MPS for Your Entire Printer Fleet

Effective printer fleet management can lead to long-term cost savings, workflow efficiencies, and less time monitoring and maintaining your machines. If you’re trying to decide if you should get a managed print services partner, consider that, in addition to significant workflow efficiencies, your team could save up to 30% on annual print spend by partnering with imageOne. You can take advantage of all the benefits of better fleet management without the hands-on work and time investment. 

Visit our website to explore our managed print services and talk to an MPS expert about your print management needs.