To manage the increasingly expensive cost of printing in an academic environment, many schools have begun using print-management software designed by third-party providers. Often, the companies providing these printing infrastructure solutions do not actually make the hardware components of the printer, but design software that manages printing infrastructure in a larger, more complex setting, allowing for easier, more cost-effective use of color printing and reducing paper waste and other associated material costs, like that of high-priced toner and specialty paper. Print-management software also allows for the use of a single software interface for using printers from multiple vendors.
Software Shelf International Inc. says the average cost of producing documents (paper, hardware, and ink) is equivalent to 40 percent of an organization’s labor cost. The company claims its software, Print Manager Plus, can pay for itself in reduced printing expenses within 10 days.
According to Software Shelf, Print Manager Plus grew out of the academic market. It then caught on in the corporate and government markets. The software allows an organization to analyze printing traffic and uses the Microsoft Windows Server operating system to monitor existing network printer setup. Once the values for each individual printed page have been defined on the printer (the default is set at five cents), administrators can track print jobs and set printing thresholds by user, group, or even the individual printer. The product also incorporates a feature called Crystal Reports, which facilitates a full audit trail of all print jobs on a network.
The product also has a free, web-based end-user inquiry tool that allows users to see how much they have printed and determine their printing quota. Software Shelf says it is able to track 99.9 percent of all printers ever manufactured, and its technology is 100-percent software based–needing no additional hardware or network changes to make it work.
"Our printing costs have increased significantly over the past four years," said a spokesman for Yale University. "We anticipate that this solution [Print Manager Plus] may save us up to $10,000 per year in printing costs. This will allow us to put this money back into the [computer] lab."
The Australian company PaperCut Software Pty. Ltd. provides a similar print-management solution. PaperCut Quota includes rules for automatic account creation, automatic scheduling of credit and quotas, and simple web-based administration for office staff, and it features a fully server-based implementation.
The company claims its PaperCut Quota is scalable and stable, having been in use on networks with many thousands of users for more than five years.
"From low-end to high-end servers, on any flavor of Windows, PaperCut just runs–no interruptions, no memory hogging, and no crashing," said Rohan Beckett, a spokesman for the Somerville Rise Primary School in Australia. Beckett added that the company offers "great support from the developers, eMails [are] promptly answered, and [they are] always able to offer assistance on the rare occasion that I actually need it."
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