Why is it that when my printer breaks it takes FOREVER to get it back up and running? I just want to print a two-page document – how hard is that?
Well actually, when it comes to IT, printers are without question the bane of an IT professional’s existence! And here are the reasons why:
- Microsoft Updates
- Wireless Printers
- Poorly Written Programs & Apps
- Multiple Independent Functions (Printing, Scan to Email, Copying, Faxing)
- Local vs Network vs RDS
- Printers Cloud Service
- Address Book
- Multiple Trays
Every one of these items has a bunch of different settings or options. And a change in any one of these settings or options can break a completely different function that had nothing to do with the change in the first place. I know that might seem like poor design, and that is generally because it is. Printer companies are not in the business of getting you the solutions that will be the long term answer. They generally want things to break and you to upgrade those machines faster than expected.
Here are a few ways to avoid some of these dreaded printer headaches.
Pro Tip: Stay away from wireless printers. They create even more problems than wired ones.
Standardize Your Printers
The best way to keep your people from wanting to throw their printers out of the 12th-story window is by having all the same printers. When it comes to IT troubleshooting, you want your engineer to be able to eliminate things based on the experience they have working with the same equipment. This will expedite finding the solution to your problem. Most IT providers will attempt to get you on a standardized set of equipment because it expedites troubleshooting and removes one-off problems from random machines with different specs. The problem most vendors have is explaining why having standard machines is so beneficial to you. Think about the list of things that can go wrong with a single printer above. Now, if your IT partner only had to worry about only one or two of those lists, they would be in a far better place compared to the 13 different lists you have because every other person has a different printer. Standardizing this for your company not only gains a ton of efficiency in terms of people needing their printers fixed, but it also allows you to scale easier as you grow.
Send Big Jobs Out of the Office
The more miles you place on a machine the slower and more fickle it gets over time. Printers are no exception to this rule. A printer that used to be lightning-fast is now as slow as a snail which as we mentioned before is by design. To remove some of those miles off of your faithful ink box, you can send out for bigger projects. If you have colored items or marketing materials, in general, you might find it not only easier to send out but also time-saving as well. I remember working as a young lad as a do a little bit of everything guy and many times would anguish over the fact that I was going to be printing half the day away. It made me think is this worth the time? The answer was almost always no. Which means in addition to the lost money, it was also taking a blow to my morale as an employee.
Some industries are notorious for printing everything…(cough) law firms (cough). That being said, even some of the industries that are the last adopters when it comes to change have started to institute some paper-saving practices. With all the apps and new technologies, it is easier than ever to review your files and forms without printing them out. These paper-saving practices do not have to be an all or nothing solution where you have to go completely paperless. Adding in some guidelines not only eliminates printing costs but also curbs some of those broken printer headaches.
Another wonderful result from going more paperless is how the sharing of information between employees becomes easier. Many times everything you need to know when starting a new job or position is found in a folder on your desk on that first day. The problem is you inevitably will misplace that folder before you need all of the information so you are back to asking for another printout or just continuously asking others to help you. Using a digital tool to share information not only reduces paper usage, but it makes sharing knowledge much easier and smoother. This improves teamwork in the office and prevents creating silos of information. Also, when updating a form or source of information you only need to change it once compared to everyone changing and printing out a new copy.
Remember, even though printers seem like an easy thing to fix, they really aren’t. With a slew of 12 different functions that have many settings and options, they are complex beyond belief. You have two ways to help your company reduce the time that broken printers are delaying your work. 1). Standardize your printers. Standardized machines are always easier to manage. 2). Print less. That doesn’t mean you have to go paperless, but there are several advantages to it.