Lately, pull printing—also sometimes referred to as follow-me printing or secure printing—has been generating more and more buzz among IT professionals because it solves two important print-related concerns: security and waste.
Security involves introducing a higher standard of confidentiality and data protection to routine printing. For decades, printing has largely been a process of an end user clicking "Print," at which point the job is immediately relayed to a default printer. The job is then printed automatically—regardless of whether or not the user is ready to pick it up. In the meantime, it just sits in the output tray for all to see.
This automated sequence might be fine at home, but in the workplace, documents often have to be treated with a bit more sensitivity. Unfortunately, many enterprise print-management solutions that do add some form of secure printing to the printing process also require increased hardware/software infrastructure as well as increased administrative oversight. For a tiny gain in security, organizations end up sacrificing cost and ease of use.
Waste has to do with the amount of consumables that are squandered each day on abandoned print jobs. Studies have found that roughly one-fifth of print jobs are never retrieved by the end user and simply orphaned at the printer. In addition to this being a major security risk, that means that as much as 20% of your organization's spending on print consumables could be going straight into the recycle bin.
Pull printing addresses these concerns by splitting print jobs into two steps. In the first step, nothing really changes. The user clicks "Print" as usual. But then the print job is held. In the second step, the user actually executes the print job using some kind of authentication or release mechanism. This two-step process makes printing much more controlled and intentional without interrupting the printing workflow.
Follow-me printing as a deployment strategy
Although security and waste are the two biggest drivers of pull-printing adoption, especially in healthcare and government organizations, another advantage lies in its "follow-me printing" aspect. This conceives of pull printing as a way to reduce print infrastructure—including the size of the printer fleet—and to lessen the amount of administrative overhead by empowering end users with more control.
This is maybe best illustrated with an example. Imagine Fred is an employee who works in HR. At the moment, without any secure-printing capabilities in place, he regularly prints to the department's dedicated printer. He then retrieves these documents, many of which are highly confidential because of the personal information they contain, and brings them to the appropriate managers and decision-makers for signing.
There are a couple drawbacks with this scenario. For starters, Fred is busy, just like the rest of his colleagues in HR, and he's not always able to pick up a job that he's just printed. It just sits in the output tray until he gets to it, and sometimes, as we all do, he simply forgets. This risk of exposing sensitive information to other employees means that the HR department has to have its own printer. It also means that Fred has to carry these documents all over the company to get them in the right hands. It would be far more convenient and efficient if he could just print them out as needed right before delivering them to the appropriate individuals.
Fred's print jobs, in other words, should suit his movements, not the other way around. Hence the idea of follow-me printing as a basis for your printer-deployment strategy.
Security and ease of use with pull printing from PrinterLogic
PrinterLogic's next-generation serverless printing software enables organizations to realize all these anticipated benefits of pull printing.
Secure printing: PrinterLogic leverages the familiar two-step "print-and-release" paradigm for pull printing. Where it stands apart from legacy enterprise print-management solutions is the flexibility that it offers in the release step.
With PrinterLogic, admins can choose from up to five different secure release mechanisms, including using the printer's embedded control panel, a badge/card reader or even a modern mobile device in kiosk mode. This means they can avoid having to purchase and deploy expensive secure-printing infrastructure while still offering employees a range of options for releasing their print jobs. That incredible flexibility removes one of the biggest barriers to secure-printing protocols: inconvenience.
Follow-me printing: Another advantage of pull printing with PrinterLogic's serverless printing platform is how it can be used to simplify deployments. Let's consider our example above using Fred from HR.
If Fred had access to follow-me printing as it's implemented in PrinterLogic, he'd be able to release his print jobs on any authorized network printer. This would allow him and his colleagues to choose—quickly and easily—their destination printer and print out sensitive documents only when they were ready to claim them. That would eliminate the need for a dedicated HR printer, which would enable admins to look to consolidating shared printers. It would also simplify deployments, as Fred would now enjoy much more control (within admin-authorized limits) over his destination printer.
Pull printing: There's now an app for that
To make PrinterLogic's pull-printing capabilities even more robust, we recently launched a new Print Release App for iOS and Android. This versatile app enhances our serverless printing solution even further by introducing added control and convenience to follow-me printing—and putting it directly in end users' pockets. Employees can view and select their secure-printing jobs and easily choose their destination printer right from their smartphones. Along with making follow-me printing even more attractive, this simple but powerful release method builds on PrinterLogic's proven ability to reduce print-related help-desk calls.
Seeing is believing, though, which is why we encourage you to sign up today for a 30-day trial and test PrinterLogic's serverless printing software—including pull printing—in your own environment. It's risk free and zero cost to try.
Brian has nearly 20 years of product management experience in leading IT companies such as Intel, Symantec, CA Technologies, Dell, and SanDisk. He joined PrinterLogic in 2018 as VP Product, where he leads a team that researches customer needs and defines product strategy. Brian enjoys working in his community to help mentor young men through volunteer service, athletic programs, and scouting. He has a B.S. degree in Business and Information Management from Brigham Young University, where he later received an MBA. He and his wife live in Saint George, Utah and have five children.