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Plan before you jump - holding phone with print button

Plan carefully before you jump: moving your print infrastructure to the cloud

by Ken Weilerstein
 
When IT departments use on-premises models for print management, pressure to increase headcount to keep up with the responsibilities is common. If you’re simultaneously seeking ways to free up staffing resources so you can focus on other, more strategic business initiatives, you find yourself in an even more challenging predicament.

Moving your print infrastructure to the cloud can be a cost-effective and productive answer to this dilemma, but before you make the move, there are some things to consider.
 

Look at the part printing plays in future growth

Where your company is headed should be your initial focus when considering a move to the cloud, and it will bring up many important questions to consider. For example, if you estimate an addition of 1,000 new employees over the next five years, you might see the need for a platform that automatically updates software to help your staff keep up with the new growth.

Each concern that arises will lead to a number of questions that can provide insight into what you need from a print-cloud service. The example above might also lead you to ask:

  • Approximately how many new employees will need mobile access to printing and scanning?
  • How do we ensure print jobs are authenticated with so many new employees being introduced to multiple locations?
  • What role will digital transformation play in changing my future print requirements?

Looking at projected business growth leads to many pertinent questions about scalability. If a cloud service you’re considering can’t scale up to meet this projected growth in a cost-effective way — quickly and with minimal disruption to workflow — cross it off your list.

This type of research not only provides insights into the type of service you need, it also provides you with data that can help you get buy-in. Stakeholders will see how a shift to the cloud can eliminate the need to make capital investments in print infrastructure, software and staff reveals opportunities for reinvestments in other, more strategic areas of business, such as analytics and digital transformation.

Once you’ve done this preliminary research, shift your focus to more specific concerns related to print-cloud management.

 

Familiarize yourself with print-related data security options

To help safeguard data, documents and other proprietary information that will be shared over your print-cloud ecosystem, make sure the service you go with includes:

  • Swipe card or pin authentication
  • Device data encryption
  • Device port closures
  • A system that overwrites latent data on your print devices' hard drives
  • Continuous monitoring and patching of software and servers
  • Continuous monitoring and configuration of MFP security settings

If data privacy and security is a concern, look to the as-a-Service model to help ensure that security features and patches are fully managed and kept up to date — look specifically for a service that continuously monitors and updates the security configurations of your print devices, and performs third-party penetration testing on the service software and infrastructure. A service partner that offers this level of support should also provide 24/7 monitoring and alerting for more visibility into your overall print infrastructure.

 

Get high visibility to help reduce costs and increase productivity

Do you currently monitor maintenance issues — such as toner and paper levels — across your entire organization on a continuous basis? Are you able to proactively keep all of your multifunction printers (MFPs) and printers up to date and well maintained? If so, how much time does it take your IT staff to monitor and maintain all of your print devices? These are good questions to ask when trying to determine whether to keep your print infrastructure onsite or include it within a comprehensive print-cloud management platform.

If you run an IT department in a large enterprise with thousands of employees and multiple locations, the high visibility you need is rarely worth taking so much of your IT employees’ time away from mission-critical business objectives. Your best bet is to find a print-cloud service that can monitor your print infrastructure better than you can. Look for a service that can provide usage data for every employee and every device. This data can help you reduce printing costs and ensure a more proactive approach to resolving print problems — letting you reduce downtime and improve the performance of your devices.
 

Strive to keep up with the speed of mobile printing

Making it easy for your workers to use smartphones, tablets and laptops to send print jobs to the cloud or scan and share information remotely is vital in our increasingly mobile world. Knowing how many members of your team work remotely now, and approximating the number of employees who will need to perform print-related tasks remotely in the future, will help you determine what your cloud service should be able to handle.
Given the speed at which digital work spaces are changing, you should seriously consider finding a cloud service that can scale up mobile printing quickly and easily to accommodate a more mobile workforce at any given time.
 
With all of these considerations, planning a move to the cloud may seem daunting. If you’re looking to make the process more efficient, productive and cost-effective, RICOH Print Platform Service can provide you with an easy-to-manage, monthly per-user subscription fee and a scalable, fully-managed cloud environment that provides a consistent user experience and can easily grow with your company, no matter how big you get.

Take the cloud-first print management readiness assessment

Are you overlooking any areas in your current print environment that could benefit from a cloud-first strategy? This simple 8 question assessment can help you identify gaps.
 
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Ken Weilerstein, Advanced Services Strategy Senior Manager, Managed Print Services, Ricoh USA Inc., joined Ricoh in 2017, bringing 32 years of experience in the IT and imaging industries. He is responsible for Ricoh’s Advanced Services domain for MPS. Ken recently led Gartner’s research on Managed Print Services and Managed Content Services, and advised the company’s 15,000 end user clients on MPS and office printer management. As analyst, VP Research and agenda manager at Gartner, Ken authored reports for printer manufacturers on how to grow and shape their MPS and service portfolios. He also published reports for end users on MPS, such as the Magic Quadrant for Managed Print and Content Services, and on software and technology trends. He presented at Gartner’s Symposia, and launched and hosted Gartner’s Print and Imaging Summit. Ken also spoke to an average of three end-user clients daily.