Managed document services: come for the security, stay for the efficiency gains
Security concerns are often a spur for conversations with customers, and I believe there is a natural and obvious overlap with the broader digitisation trend which makes organisations think about how they use their devices and manage their printing more proactively.
Let’s look at the common problem of pages that have been printed and then left lying around in printer trays and not collected. What if those stray sheets contained confidential information such as employee salaries, restructuring plans or strategy details?
It follows that reducing or removing the chances for this to happen provides a double improvement, by addressing an important information security risk, and from an efficiency perspective because it eliminates unnecessary wastage.
Consolidated device fleets that are the common result of moving to a managed print or document service usually results in being able to print from any device on a campus. That feature is certainly an advantage in many circumstances, but there are alternative approaches to take where there is a priority on protecting sensitive or personal information.
There are various ways of restricting employees from printing a document containing commercially sensitive information unless they are physically present at the machine, which ensures they will collect the document as soon as the print job is finished, rather than forgetting about it and leaving it behind. Two of the simplest options use widely accepted good security principles, such as entering a PIN code – something you know – or using swipe card access – something you have – to release the print job.
Print management software doesn’t typically get as granular as using keyword detection to determine whether a document is confidential or not, but other technical controls can ensure security policies are enforced. For example, implementing department-level restrictions would mean that only a device allocated to a particular department is allowed to output documents originating from that department.
“A rules-based approach to printing provides a double benefit, because it is also effective as a cost-control measure. It is possible to restrict colour print capability to management and marketing functions, but not to the warehouse or a general clerical area. It’s also possible to set rules around allowing colour or print only at certain times of the day or month”
This approach would give a member of the finance team or the HR function the ability to print only to a device near their desk but not to inadvertently send the job to other parts of the building which might be more open and where there is greater footfall by staff at all levels who would not necessarily have the appropriate security clearance.
As before, this rules-based approach to printing provides a double benefit, because it is also effective as a cost-control measure. It is possible to restrict colour print capability to management and marketing functions, but not to the warehouse or a general clerical area. It’s also possible to set rules around allowing colour or print only at certain times of the day or month.
The swipe card system that may have been introduced for security reasons also provides better management oversight because it allows companies to track print use by department and allocate a cost to that.
Organisations can reap many benefits of managed document services while meeting their security obligations. It can cause a culture change so that all employees of an organisation become more careful about what information they print, or to consider whether a document needs to be printed at all.
Martin Deignan, country manager, OKI Ireland