Print audit and assessment are essential tools in any managed print services (MPS) project. They help you understand your current print environment, identify opportunities for improvement, and design a tailored solution that meets your needs and goals. In this article, we will explore why conducting a print audit and assessment is crucial, the common tools and methods used, how to prepare for one, how to conduct it, and how to use the results effectively.

Why Should You Conduct a Print Audit and Assessment?

A print audit and assessment is a comprehensive analysis of your print infrastructure, usage, costs, and workflows. It helps you answer questions like:

  1. How many printers, copiers, scanners, and fax machines do you have?
  2. How are they distributed across your locations and departments?
  3. How much do you spend on print-related expenses, such as toner, paper, maintenance, and energy?
  4. How efficient and secure are your users with print services?

By conducting a print audit and assessment, you can gain valuable insights into your print management, such as reducing costs, enhancing security, optimising performance, and improving the user experience.

Why Are the Common Print Audit and Assessment Tools and Methods?

Different tools are available to accommodate the various scopes, scales, and objectives of your project. Let’s delve into the common tools and methods:

  • Print Management Software: This software can collect and analyse data from your networked print devices. It provides information about device status, usage, consumables, and errors. Additionally, it offers reports and dashboards to help you visualise your print environment. These tools are valuable for tracking and managing device performance, consumables, and user behavior.
  • Device Discovery Tools: These tools scan your network to identify all connected print devices. They gather information about device models, serial numbers, IP addresses, and locations. This creates an inventory of your print assets and can detect any unauthorised or redundant devices. Device discovery tools are essential for creating a comprehensive picture of your print environment.
  • User Surveys and Interviews: These methods involve gathering feedback from print users to understand their needs, preferences, challenges, and expectations. This information is critical for evaluating user satisfaction with current print services and tailoring future solutions to their requirements.
  • Workflow Analysis: Workflow analysis includes mapping and evaluating print-related workflows to identify any inefficiencies, bottlenecks, risks, or gaps in processes and policies. This method can help streamline operations, improve productivity, and ensure secure and efficient print workflows.

How to Prepare for a Print Audit and Assessment?

A print audit and assessment is a collaborative process that requires the involvement and support of various stakeholders in your organisation, such as IT, finance, operations, and end-users. To prepare for a print audit and assessment, follow these steps:

  • Define Your Goals and Expectations: Start by defining the main problems or opportunities you want to address with your MPS project. Consider the key performance indicators (KPIs) you want to measure and improve, as well as the expected benefits and outcomes of your MPS project.
  • Select Suitable Tools and Methods: Choose the most suitable tools and methods for conducting your print audit and assessment. Determine how you will collect, analyse, and report the data, as well as the resources and timeframes required for each tool and method.
  • Communicate and Educate Stakeholders: Communicate the purpose and process of your print audit and assessment to your stakeholders. Address any concerns or questions they may have to ensure their cooperation and participation.

How to Conduct a Print Audit and Assessment?

Print Audit and Assessment

A print audit and assessment is a structured and systematic process with four phases: data collection, data analysis, data presentation, and data validation.

  • Data Collection: Use tools and methods to gather accurate, complete, consistent, and relevant data from your print devices, users, and workflows. This phase is crucial as the quality of your data impacts the accuracy of your assessment.
  • Data Analysis: Utilise print management software to process and interpret the data. This software can help identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement. The analysis phase is where you draw meaningful insights from the collected data.
  • Data Presentation: Present the results of your data analysis using reports, dashboards, charts, or other formats. Visualising the data makes it easier for stakeholders to understand and act upon the findings.
  • Data Validation: Verify and confirm the accuracy of your data and results by checking for errors or inconsistencies. Solicit feedback from stakeholders to ensure that the data reflects their reality and expectations.

How to Use the Results of Your Print Audit and Assessment?

The results of your print audit and assessment are essential for your MPS project, providing a clear picture of your current print environment and a roadmap for achieving your desired print environment. Here’s how to effectively use the results:

  • Define Your MPS Strategy: Use the results to define your MPS strategy, aligning it with your business goals, expectations, and opportunities. This strategy should guide your approach to improving your print environment.
  • Design the Solution: Based on the assessment findings, design a tailored solution that addresses the identified issues and aligns with your print devices, users, and workflows. Ensure the solution integrates seamlessly with existing systems and processes.
  • Monitor and Optimise: Continuously monitor the solutions you’ve put in place. Measure performance against the established KPIs, benchmarks, and gather feedback from users. Identify areas for improvement and adjust the solution accordingly to optimise your print environment.
  • Implement the Solution: Consider your available resources, timeframes, and potential risks when implementing the solution. A successful implementation is key to realising the improvements you’ve planned.

In conclusion, conducting a print audit and assessment is a fundamental step in managing your print services effectively. It helps you understand your current state, identify areas for improvement, and create a roadmap for achieving your desired print environment. By utilising the right tools and methods and involving your stakeholders, you can transform your print environment to be more cost-effective, secure, and efficient, ultimately improving the user experience and benefiting your organisation as a whole.

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