How to Choose the Best Universal Print Driver for Your Mobile Work Force

By Richie Michelon  |  Posted 2009-08-25

How to Choose the Best Universal Print Driver for Your Mobile Work Force

Printing from the road, or even from a different floor in their own building, has been difficult for the traveling employee. When it comes to IT support for the mobile workforce, one often overlooked or low-prioritized area is print support. But with employees on the go, instant access to accurate, printed information is often critical to keeping business processes running smoothly. Employees who travel frequently, work from satellite offices or even move from place to place within one building often face big challenges when it comes to printing their documents.

Let's take a look at the three steps mobile workers need to take in order to print:

Step No. 1: Workers have to get up from their notebook computers and find a device capable of printing their documents. This involves finding the right device to print in color, duplex or use advanced finishing options.

Step No. 2: They then have to figure out how to connect to that device by determining its IP address, Domain Name System (DNS) name or print queue.

Step No. 3: Next, mobile workers must download and install a driver. Or they need to call IT, open a help ticket and wait for a support tech to come and install it so they can send their jobs to the printer.

With the need for multiple printer brands, models and devices within an organization to handle an assortment of printing needs, IT departments have become accustomed to supporting dozens, if not hundreds, of disparate printer drivers.

By deploying a Universal Print Driver (UPD) that provides users and network administrators with a single driver interface that communicates with multiple printers from different vendors, IT managers can reduce printer support requirements, install or upgrade printers in a fraction of the time, and reduce the labor and overhead needed to support network printing. This cuts overall printing costs for the organization and increases user satisfaction with IT's print services.

How to Select a Universal Print Driver

How to Select a Universal Print Driver

Here are six tips to help you choose the best UPD solution for your mobile work force:

Tip No. 1: Look for a driver that doesn't lock you into one vendor. Mobile users will encounter a variety of print devices in their travels. Thus, it's very important that whatever driver solution you choose is vendor-agnostic.

Tip No. 2: Look for a driver that is easy and intuitive to install.

Tip No. 3: Look for a driver that is "location aware" and can present to mobile users only print devices that are pertinent to them in their current location. It does users no good being presented with their home printer while they are at the office! Or vice versa.

Tip No. 4: Look for a driver that provides automatic, real-time status of the devices it discovers so that users can choose to print to a device that is not only ready but also has their media loaded in it.

Tip No. 5: Look for a driver that is able to expand its search to alternate subnets. Many environments that users find themselves in are complex and are not comprised of a single "network" but rather many subnets. It is important for a UPD solution to be able to expand its search to find print devices on more than just the subnet the user's PC is on. This is really important for wireless or VPN users, as more often than not, the print device they want to print to will be on a different subnet from the one they find their PC on.

Tip No. 6: Another thing to consider when looking at UPD solutions is security. Make sure that whatever driver you choose to use does not bypass device security in any way. Many devices support access restrictions, color printing permissions and print submission accounting. Make sure that your driver not only obeys these but prompts for them in the driver's interface.

The time it takes for IT to deploy, test, troubleshoot and manage a multitude of print drivers-not to mention the time and frustration on the part of the users who have to become familiar with them-all add up to a significant amount of expense and lost productivity.

By ensuring that the print driver tool that your organization is using can work with virtually all devices on the network, and simplifying the user experience with a consistently familiar interface, IT can spend less time on deploying devices, training users and upkeep of the network. At the same time, mobile employees can get more work done more quickly.

Richie Michelon is a Product Planning Manager at Xerox Corporation. Richie has 14 years of experience in the printing industry. Richie is responsible for identifying market requirements, and developing product and controller strategy for printers and A4 color multifunction products. He can be reached at

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