How to Streamline Back-end Batch Printing

Let’s say you land at your desk first thing on Monday morning, a department head approaches you asking for help on a critical printing process. The department is implementing a new ticketing system to print thousands of tickets for an event. The ticketing system groups the tickets by order number, which could include multiple tickets for multiple people in a single order. 

Obviously, it’s imperative that these tickets are printed in the correct order to avoid confusion during distribution to the paying customers, and a disruption to productivity. And the problem is that the ticketing system can’t guarantee this. 

How are you going to achieve this?


The answer: Batch printing to streamline your printing

Batch printing is necessary to streamline the output of bulk documents from ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or EMR (Electronic Medical Records) systems since, more than likely, the way in which they are printed directly impacts your customers, productivity, budgets, and more. 

Printing in large batches happens in any industry. Whether you have lab techs trying to print off patient lab results for the day, manufacturing staff printing bulk shipping labels, or printing tickets for a major event; your goal is to make this experience as seamless as possible. 

This functionality is simple enough, right? Batch printing is a pretty standard capability, especially for enterprises that need to print a lot of documents. 


But where does Output Management enter this conversation? 

Vasion’s Output Management solution connects to your back-end EMR, ERP, or line-of-business applications to facilitate printing. Output Management offers an API Print Service that allows you to deploy the API within your network to connect your back-end applications to printers and handle any specific printing needs using RESTful API calls. 

One instance where this is used is batch printing. The Output Management Batch Printing feature supports requests sent natively from Epic, along with our API Print Service, to handle printing from any number of EMRs or ERPs. Regardless of the source application, Batch Printing follows these five basic steps:

  1. The source application (EMR/ERP) sends a request to the Output Management Service to open a batch with a batch open request. This request contains a unique identifier for the batch and identifiers for all jobs that will be received as part of this batch.
  2. Batch jobs are sent through the Output Management Service. While a batch is open, it is put on standby and will not be printed until it is closed. Of course, your non-batch jobs will still be processed and printed normally.
  3. The batch is closed once the Output Management Service receives a batch close request containing the unique batch identifier.
  4. Then your jobs are printed in the order they need to be in! At this point, the API Print Service makes the request back to communicate the status of the print job, either successful or unsuccessful.

 

Why Output Management?

Vasion’s Output Management solution is highly reliable and highly available. With support for load balancing, API printing, and ERP/EMR connections, Output Management eliminates single points of failure when printing from your critical line of business applications, ensuring output is received exactly as needed. 


And, you have access to several other great capabilities for your batch jobs like:

  • Bidirectional communication with the printer confirming your batch jobs was 100% successful
  • Converting files to print-ready formats for individual printer preferences
  • Automatically redirecting batch jobs to a backup printer in case of failures
  • Remote facilities printing batch jobs outside the network to secure company printers
  • And many more…

 

Let’s have a conversation about your printing environment and back-end document processes. Schedule a demo today.

How to Achieve the Printing Efficiency You Need with Rule-Based Automation

Output Management Rules & Routing

Your electronic medical record system, enterprise resource planning, and other large-scale applications your organization relies on form critical parts of business processes. It’s crucial the output from those systems ends up in the right place, in the correct format, and on time.

With Vasion’s introduction of Output Management comes higher reliability, speed of delivery, and unification of management for both office and back-end application print management when printing from these systems, but still leaves the opportunity to further increase the efficiency, accuracy, and reliability of print and workflow tasks. 

 

Our customers stress that better efficiency is necessary for their output processes.

One of the concerns commonly brought up by customers I’ve spoken to has been ensuring uptime for critical printing with their printers themselves. If the printer designated for shipping labels or customer invoices breaks, it can put a serious dent in productivity while it’s down, and it’s not always easy to redirect traffic to a new printer within a customer’s application, resulting in unacceptable downtime.

Additionally, these environments often bring processes requiring manual intervention. A healthcare organization we worked with hoped to reduce costs by printing the majority of their documents in black and white, with only after-visit summaries printed in color to maintain a positive patient experience. Now, a manual touchpoint is introduced into the printing process, and it’s up to the individual clinician to remember to select the correct setting for just that type of job every time. 

 

These, and many other examples, drove Rules & Routing, a rule-based automation feature, as part of our Output Management Bundle. 

I challenge you to look deeper into your printing processes–you’ll notice those manual touchpoints often arise in your print environment, like manually converting documents to print-ready PDFs, paper notes taped to the printer reminding employees to print only in black and white, and attaching digital files to emails after scanning. These can all be automated as rules that trigger specific actions based on a set of behaviors. 


The three main components of Rules & Routing: 

  • Triggers are used to watch for specific events that should prompt the Rules & Routing service to decide which course of action to take.
  • Conditions provide the qualifying attributes that decide whether or not an action should be performed.
  • Actions are the actual behavior applied when conditions are met. 

These automated rules reduce or even eliminate any manual intervention, alter print data, increase document security, ensure proper delivery of documents, and more. In addition, document delivery goes beyond printers, including delivery direct to storage folders or through email, eliminating the manual touchpoint for your coworkers. 

 

Let’s look back at the example above from our customer needing to ensure continuous uptime for their printing processes. 

To solve this issue, I would create a rule that automatically reroutes my print data to a backup printer in the event we detect print failures on the primary printer to avoid long periods of downtime by following these steps:

  1. Create a rule with the trigger “Print Job Failed”
  2. Choose a condition selecting the primary printer(s) you are watching for failures
  3. And the “Redirect print job” action, where you’d select the backup printer
  4. Optionally, you could also add an additional action to email the originating user to alert them their job is located on a new printer

Best Practices When Implementing Centralized Print Management in an Enterprise

It’s easier to keep track of things when they’re all in one place. That’s why centralized print management is such an important goal for IT teams. However, it can take a lot of work to implement in large organizations with many moving parts like different operating systems, printer models, locations, and user needs.

It’s even more challenging when your infrastructure is working against you. 

Print servers and other prototypical corporate printing solutions don’t allow you to view and manage everything from a single pane of glass. Instead of unifying the print environment, they fragment it.

However, with the right resources, centralized print management is more than just possible—it’s easy to implement. And the long-term payoff can be huge if done correctly. Read on to learn the best practices to implement centralized print management.

 

Eliminate your print servers

More infrastructure doesn’t equal more features and more convenience. This assumption is one of the most common mistakes in print management. It is also one of the leading reasons organizations end up adding print servers when their print environment is underperforming. Which, in turn, only creates more hardware to juggle and increases overall costs. 

And, after the PrintNightmare scare, admins wished they had eliminated print servers instead of adding to their fleet.

Serverless printing infrastructure empowers you to ditch your print servers. That’s because it uses direct IP, which creates one-to-one connections between computers and printers without servers. At the same time, it helps bring the entire print environment together. All of those client/printer relationships are housed under one solution and managed from a single console.

 

Simplify printer deployments and driver maintenance with a single console

If your organization is after centralized print management, chances are you’re looking for a more streamlined print experience for admins and end users. Centralized print management gets you one step closer to simplifying deployments by providing a single console that allows you to deploy printers with just a few clicks and manage your printer drivers from a single repository. 

Admins can add new printers or make changes to existing ones effortlessly. They can even use Active Directory criteria to set up advanced deployments. On the other hand, end users can leverage Self-Service Printer Installation features to install printers by themselves—drastically reducing helpdesk intervention. 

 

Find a scalable solution 

When you think of traditional direct IP printing, the term “scalable” doesn’t usually come to mind. But server-based corporate printing solutions aren’t very scalable either. To scale up, they always call for more infrastructure. Otherwise, performance goes downhill.

A serverless printing infrastructure enables print environments to become incredibly scalable. Even ones that are growing. If you open or acquire a new location, you can import its printers automatically. There is no need to airdrop another print server to service a new office. 

 

Prioritize print security

Protecting your printers has become as commonplace as locking your door before you leave the house. It’s more than necessary. And you don’t want your property to get stolen. 

So, how do you keep threats out of your print environment? 

It’s simple. Require your users to have a key (password) to be allowed inside. 

When you eliminate your print servers and move to cloud printing, you open the door to integrations with IdPs, which mandate users to verify their identity before giving them access to necessary applications—including printing. On top of that, serverless print management offers advanced security features like pull printing, requiring a second layer of authentication before print jobs are released. 

 

Consider your sustainability goals

Businesses are doing all they can to create a more sustainable workplace, not just in terms of future growth, but also making an intentional effort to lower consumable usage to help the environment. Printing is, of course, a great place to start. 

Centralizing your print environment by eliminating your print servers does wonders for your sustainability initiatives in a few ways, including:

  • Reducing the amount of electricity used by print servers
  • Removing unused printers from your print fleet
  • Providing features like pull printing to create intentional printing habits
  • Setting limits on maximum print job size to cut back on paper usage
  • Tracking and auditing print jobs to calculate print costs per user, group, and department

And these are just the basics. 

Sure, you could just ask people to print less, restrict access to most printers, and cross your fingers that they’ll print duplex. However, serverless printing gives you control over what end users can do and provides the features and functionality to make sustainable printing almost automatic. 

 

Get proven results with SaaS print management 

Moving to a serverless print management solution allows admins to eliminate print servers and get centralized print management on a single platform. 

Take our customer, Aquafin, for example. 

This large Belgian wastewater specialist first went from hundreds of Novell IP printers to four Windows print servers. Then, it migrated again to PrinterLogic’s fully serverless printing infrastructure. At each step of the way, our solution helped Aquafin apply best practices and get optimal results. Read the case study here.

Large or small, your organization can do the same. Schedule a demo of PrinterLogic today and get a 30-day free trial to discover how quickly and seamlessly you can achieve centralized print management in your print environment.

How to Easily Migrate Printers from Print Servers with Automated Migration

With Windows 7 now officially past its end of life, OS upgrades and migration are on everyone’s minds. For IT departments and providers of managed print services, that’s not always a good thing.

 

Migrations cause migraines

Sure, the process has gotten a little easier over the years, but it’s almost impossible not to run into some hiccups. Even when moving from one Windows version to another.

With traditional printing solutions like print servers, migration takes on a whole new level of complexity. You’ve got to bring over drivers and profiles, many of which are incompatible with the new server version. You’ve got to reconnect workstations and cross your fingers that the client OS will play well with the new printing software. If you’re using group policy or scripts, you’ve got triple-check all the associations.

And then, of course, you’ve got to deal with all the end users who call the next day because they can’t print.

At least, that’s what migration looks like if you’re not using PrinterLogic.

Our serverless print infrastructure features an automated migration tool that makes life dramatically easier for IT and managed print services. With PrinterLogic, your organization can migrate away from legacy printing solutions once and for all.

 

What automated migration looks like with PrinterLogic

PrinterLogic’s built-in migration tool fully automates the transfer of printer objects from your existing print server to our next-generation printing solution. It’s a simple and straightforward process:

  1. First, the migration tool copies printer objects and drivers from the print servers you’ve selected into PrinterLogic’s centralized Admin Console.
  2. Next, the CSV uploader bulk imports any unmanaged direct IP printers you might have.
  3. Then, the PrinterLogic workstation client silently converts Windows shared printers into managed direct IP printers.
  4. Finally, the workstation client assumes control of all authorized printer objects.
  5. There is no step five. Your end users are now enjoying robust serverless printing, and you’re enjoying enterprise-wide print management from a single pane of glass.

We know that most admins can’t wait to say goodbye to their print servers. At the same time, they also don’t want to force downtime on their end users.

That’s why PrinterLogic’s migration tool makes things quick and seamless. RC Willey Home Furnishings transitioned several hundred printers—and 1,500 users—to PrinterLogic in under two hours (read the case study here).

And they’re not the only ones.

More than one IT professional has told us that their end users didn’t even know that a large print migration had taken place.

We also know that first impressions count. That’s why we designed our migration tool to be a stunningly smooth experience for large, distributed enterprise environments as well as managed print services providers who oversee multiple clients. And, yes, it’s just as straightforward with tricky Citrix printing environments.

 

The benefits of automated migration with PrinterLogic

Seamlessness, simplicity and ease of use are rare among printing solutions and therefore big pluses in any migration. But PrinterLogic’s migration tool also gives IT professionals granular control over which print servers they choose to migrate.

Using the tool, you can browse to your existing print servers through your Active Directory tree or the Windows network. Or you can target your print servers by IP address. That makes it easy to pinpoint the print servers you want to migrate and ultimately eliminate with PrinterLogic’s serverless print infrastructure.

Citrix printing sometimes falls into a class by itself, but PrinterLogic has been verified as Citrix Ready and offers the same level of control when migrating (and eliminating) Citrix print servers.

After migration, regardless of the prior print environment, you’ll have more reliable, cost-effective and less resource-intensive printing with PrinterLogic. And that’s true whether you’ve chosen to migrate to our cloud solution, PrinterLogic SaaS, or our on-prem version, PrinterLogic Virtual Appliance.

You don’t have to make a full-scale print migration based on faith alone. As a proof of concept, sign up for a free 30-day PrinterLogic trial today. You’ll see how easy it is to move from your current printing solution—no matter if it’s print servers, Citrix printing, or unmanaged direct IP—to PrinterLogic’s serverless print infrastructure.