Print Management Platforms Take Different Paths to a Common End



Jamie Bsales

Imaging resellers who are in the business of driving up customer clicks are on the wrong gravy train. The name of the game now is lowering TCO for your clients by helping them reduce print output and redirecting prints from high cost-per-page devices (like desktop ink jet printers) to centralized MFPs that offer a lower cpp. Placing an in-house print management solution can help your customer achieve these, while also supporting “green” initiatives and allowing them to recoup billable costs from clients where appropriate. BLI recently tested two print management applications, and while they differ in their scope and approach each has the same goal: reducing costs for your customers.

Equitrac Professional, from Nuance Communications, is arguably the best-known accounting/chargeback solution, and is designed to help firms of lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, and other professional organizations recover costs associated with prints/copies/scans/faxes as well as other common billable costs. The server-based solution can also be used to help firms trim their own output costs by optimizing fleets, encouraging more cost-effective printing, and eliminating rogue printing behavior. The system tracks print output at the server and user levels, while copy/scan/fax activity is accounted for by optional embedded MFP applications (available for MFPs from Canon, Ricoh, Xerox, Fuji Xerox, and HP) or external terminals. In BLI’s testing, Equitrac Professional 5.5 again proved itself to be the most fully featured cost recovery solution on the market. The application has numerous strengths, from simple ease of use to extensive reporting capabilities to integration with many types of backend systems and software applications—and everything in between. Other features, such as the abilities of administrators to enforce duplexing or implement automatic rerouting of jobs to other devices, can help spread “green” messaging throughout firms and, more importantly, save money. In addition, secure print release—dubbed Follow-You Printing in Equitrac parlance—improves project confidentiality and contributes to less toner and paper waste, among other things. Read BLI’s Solutions Report to see if Equitrac Professional is a fit for your clients.

PaperCut Software is making a name for itself as the nimble start-up in the print management space, and its PaperCut NG platform offers a host of features at a very affordable price. The solution tracks print jobs sent to any device on the network, as well as to local printers connected to networked PCs, and can be used to monitor print usage by users and departments, assign print costs, enforce print quotas and account balances, and curtail wasteful printing habits. PaperCut NG also offers cost-recovery features important in professional services firms, namely the ability to bill client accounts for output where appropriate. (For organizations that also need to track, control and bill for walkup copy, scan and fax activity at networked MFPs, the company offers its flagship PaperCut MF platform, the subject of a separate BLI report). After putting PaperCut NG through its paces, BLI technicians concluded that it’s among the best software platforms in its class—especially given its price. The interface is simple to use for managing and monitoring the system, and flexible and comprehensive reporting is yet another strength. Administrators have a lot of features at their disposal, including the ability to configure quotas by user or department and fairly granular pricing options for output. They can also establish rules to create organization-wide print policies; for example, the administrator can force actions such as converting color jobs to monochrome, switching simplex jobs to duplex, deny a job based on a set cost threshold, and deny because it is a duplicate of a document recently printed. See our Solutions Report on the latest iteration, PaperCut NG 12, for BLI’s in-depth analysis.