How an Advanced Print Management and Spooling Solution Improves Printing in a Windows Server

Company – For the purposes of this case study, we have consolidated multiple companies’ Windows printing challenges in order to present a more comprehensive “picture” of the benefits that OM Plus delivers.

Business Problem – Most business processes require some type of output to be initiated and/or considered complete. This output is created by business applications (ERP’s Financial Applications, HR Applications, Payroll Applications, etc.), and includes things like invoices, checks, financial reports, shipping and manufacturing related documents, etc. The output is usually “delivered” to its end destination (most commonly a printer) to initiate and/or complete the business process. Enterprise-based output printing is most often batch oriented and is distinguished from normal desktop printing by the fact that it is mission critical. It is more demanding; time sensitive and business processes can fall apart if the printing is not successfully completed and managed. It is extremely important to the completion of a business process to know that a document has printed. Cash is not collected if invoices don’t print, goods are not shipped if the pick lists don’t print, and vendors don’t get paid if A/P checks don’t print. What is the impact on your business if invoices don’t get sent out even though your application sent them to the printer and assumes they printed? cheap color copies

The key business problem faced in a Windows Server environment is the lack of a robust print management and spooling system that has advanced, post-spooling functionality. The Windows Spooling System (WSS) works fairly well in terms of performing the duties for which it was designed, spooling print jobs and delivering them to a printer. However, advanced, post spooling functionality is virtually non-existent in WSS and this causes business problems. The Windows Spooling System lacks the post-spooling, batch printing tools that are needed to streamline document centric business processes in an “enterprise class” print management environment.

Key Technical Challenge – Unfortunately, none of the Windows Server Operating Systems’ WSS’s have been designed to handle the production delivery of documents across an enterprise or provide advanced “post spooling” document delivery functionality. These shortcomings of WSS impact business processes and add unnecessary support costs. Due to these shortcomings, problems arise with reliable and confirmed document delivery, centralized print management and control across dissimilar systems, document integration with electronic forms, and the supportability of the entire enterprise’s document delivery systems. Documents are lost, not delivered correctly or in a timely fashion and customer satisfaction or business processes suffer.

Additionally, because the Windows Spooling System (WSS) lacks post-spooling tools it cannot provide the following functions that are often necessary to successfully maintain an “enterprise class” print management environment. WSS does not provide:

  • Confirmation of the print job landing in the output tray-Assuring to the application that a document has been successfully printed
  • Automatic addition of print specific finishing commands without user intervention-Users can request finishing commands but this is not usually practical in large batch printing
  • Server level accounting-Who printed what, where and how much around the whole enterprise
  • Scalability of print infrastructure-After more than 150 print queues WSS scalability is questionable
  • Load Balancing-WSS can provide overflow load balancing but to get true “round robin” printing where all printers are shared equally, not just when the first one is busy, requires OM Plus
  • Document re-printing without having to re-create or re-spool the job-Since WSS purges the job after delivery to the printer buffer, there is not an easy way to re-print the job or portions of the job, without re-creating it and re-spooling it
  • Job priority controls-If a large job is dominating a printer, it is difficult to stop the job and allow others to print, then re-start the large job where it stopped with WSS
  • Auto fail-over and re-routing of jobs around failed printers-WSS can not automatically re-route a print job around a failed printe
  • Viewing in WYSIWYG after spooling, prior to printing-If a user wants to view the job without printing it, WSS does not provide a WYSIWYG view. This can be very useful and provide cost savings for jobs that only need to be viewed but not actually printed
  • The ability to block jobs automatically that are too large, unauthorized, or not to be printed on the mounted form-Business rules can not be set up in WSS so that jobs can be re-directed or put on hold when they are sent to a printer not suited to print the job, i.e. 1000 page report being sent to a desktop printer cannot be stopped, re-routed to a production size printer and then an e-mail sent to the report requester notifying them of the re-routing. With OM Plus this is possible
  • Re-printing from a specific page after the job has been delivered to the printer buffer-WSS will purge it when it is finished delivering the job to the printer, not when the last page is successfully printed, making it difficult to know exactly what page needs to print next. Critical need in check printing to print the next check correctly after a printer problem

Technical Solution -The technical solution implemented at our customers with these business problems is OM Plus, the Advanced Print Spooling and Print Management solution from Plus Technologies.

At the heart of the OM Plus suite of product solutions is the OM Plus Server. It monitors all system activities and performs the core tasks associated with the delivery of documents such as, job scheduling, queue management, security, job status, printer administration and other system functions. It is constantly aware of all relevant system elements, queues, printers, fax servers, e-mail servers, pagers, web pages, archive systems, e-forms, document types, user authorities, servers, and priorities.