Print Auditing

Posted by Steve Kelley on December 14th, 2017

IT departments are experts at tracking and auditing everything. IT departments audit failed logins, successful logins, access to files, file transfers, IP packets, DNS queries, open ports, closed ports, physical assets, software assets, up times, downtime, the list goes on and on. In fact, if you even take a look back 10 years ago, the Forbes top 2000 companies spent nearly $350 million annually on just log management software. But with all that money spent on tracing, tracking, and auditing software, nearly 90% of all companies are not tracking one of their biggest expenses—printing! Spending on printing accounts for between 5-15% of a company’s revenue. That is a hard statistic to believe, and it gets worst! 90% of all organizations are not tracking their printing in any way. Why is that? The answer is not very complicated.

Before we can get into the specifics as to why companies are not tracking their printing, we need to first look at the different type of print architectures that are supported. Traditionally, print jobs are either rendered and spooled locally on the workstation, or they are spooled and rendered on a print server. No matter which architecture is supported, tracking and auditing become very cumbersome if possible at all. Let’s look at each of these architectures and how print auditing and tracking can be handled. Print server technology has been around for decades, yet print servers don’t natively offer any type of print job tracking. “Why Microsoft, why?!” It is possible to turn on print logging via Windows Event Viewer. However, this type of logging is not very functional or insightful. All you get is a record that a print job was sent through the server’s spooler and what printer it went to. Knowing who sent the print job, how big it was, was it color or black and white, are all details that are lost in the Windows Event Viewer. This doesn’t really help an organization understand the costs of printing and it doesn’t give any insightful information that can be used to make informed decisions about printing. Imagine using Windows Event viewer to answer the CTO when he asks, “How is it that we are spending 5-15% on printing each year?”

For environments that print directly to their printers and not through a print server, this becomes even harder information to gather. You would have to rely on gathering and digging through the event viewers in each and every workstation in the environment to get the same information.

There are a few bolt-on products that try to show how much printing is really going on, but these solutions have their own struggles as well. A lot of time these products are developed by the print manufacture and are “vendor” specific. Meaning they only grab the metrics for that specific brand of printers, or even worst they may only report on specific models from that vendor. This could leave an organization locked to a specific vendor, making them feel as though they must trade off gaining insight to printing for the loss of being competitive when bidding for a new fleet of printers. The second struggle with these solutions is that the data they gather isn't insightful. They may account for how many print jobs were sent to a printer, but to really understand the cost of printing you need more than just print volumes. You need to know who is printing what, where the printing is going, which departments are printing more than others, how much each print jobs cost, how much it costs to support a specific printer or model, how much printing is directed to locally attach and/or USB printer, and did anyone print HR documents to non-HR printers?

But all is not lost! You can actually get all this information today, and more, no matter the type of print environment you support. If you want to answer the question, “Where are we spending that 5-15% of our revenue?” you can. PrinterLogic’s print job auditing and reporting tracks who printed what, where it was printed to, how much of it was color, and how much was black and white. In addition, you can gain useful insights into printing trends by the user, department, location, and even automatic cost analysis. Sounds too good to be true…well what if I told you it also requires no additional setup! All of these insights are gained automatically right out of the box. You do not need to predefine groups, users, or printers within the reporting software, nor do you need to ask your users to type in department codes or user codes. Rather PrinterLogic will sync automatically with your Active Directory and generate these insights for you right out of the box.

Not only can you answer the question of where your 5–15% of revenue is going, you can qualify if the print initiatives that you are rolling out are reducing costs. PrinterLogic can generate weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually scheduled reports that quantify how much money you saved by defaulting your users to black and white, or by switching out those old printers with a new fleet of MFPs. Or you can get after Mrs. Jones for printing 1000 copies of her Sunday flyer.

Steve Kelley
Steve Kelley
As an IT professional, I have five years’ experience as a Network Engineer, and three years’ experience as a Systems Engineer. One of the most rewarding parts of my job at PrinterLogic, where I’m a Federal Presales Engineer, is helping Federal agencies improve and modernize their IT infrastructure. I also enjoy helping departments improve their FITARA DCIO scores by eliminating thousands of print servers and working with information-assurance teams to improve their printing security. I’ve also helped organizations optimize their infrastructure to support initiatives like HSPD-12. PrinterLogic solves REAL problems that Federal IT departments struggle with, and I love working for a company that takes the time and makes the investment to help the Federal government realize these benefits, too.


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