General Software

First Look Review: Print Audit 5

24 Sep, 2006 By: Ron LaFon

Software suite makes it easy to manage printing expenses without disturbing your workflow.

Print Audit 5 Suite
Pros: Easy to use, flexible, good database connectivity
Cons: None significant
Price: $150 (multiple seats discount available)

Print Audit

Print Audit 5 from Print Audit is a comprehensive and detailed client-based tracking application used to analyze, reduce and recover costs and resources associated with printing and plotting to all networked, local and direct to IP printers. Print Audit 5 has three components -- Analysis, Reduction and Recovery -- that can be purchased as a suite or individually, depending on your needs. For this review, we looked at the entire Print Audit 5 suite.

Installation was simple and straight-forward -- just answer a few questions about what you want to install and where you want it, and which type of database support you plan to use, and you're off and running. Then, any time you print, the software presents you with a simple dialog box where you can allocate the specific print job to a particular category or client, set the per-print cost (if it should vary from the norm) and make any notes. Simply OK your choices and the printing proceeds. In practice, this stage is fast and relatively unobtrusive, making it easy to use.

You can install this software enterprisewide to any number of machines to enable print tracking, bullet-proof security that can't be overridden, support for SQL and Access back-ends, easy and secure configuration from any workstation, and the ability to redirect costly print jobs to more economical devices.

The Print Audit 5 Job Manager screen displays information that has been recorded for specific print jobs.

Once the printing information is gathered, the Analysis application gives you an accurate idea of your print volumes, with the detailed reporting capabilities providing an opportunity to optimize your operations. Analysis contains a volume analysis reporting tool that can help identify equipment inefficiencies and bottlenecks and lets you track device port, duplex information, number of pages, number of copies and network use. It automatically builds inventory lists for each user, printing device and computer. Print Audit Reduction allows enterprises to restrict color use by user, enforce printing limits and direct expensive print jobs to the most efficient printing device.

The Recovery component of Print Audit 5 is a print accounting tool that automates each step of the chargeback process. It integrates with virtually all accounting systems. The application is designed to work with all CAD systems, in addition to the other software you use on a day-to-day basis. You can recover your expenses by charging customers or users by the page or by the paper size. Print Audit also offers Copy Audit ($1,150) to track copy machines and, as you might expect, Copy Audit integrates easily with the Print Audit 5 suite.

From the Print Audit 5 Administration screen, you can easily change the general operation of the Print Audit Client.

The Print Audit 5 Suite can be used with Windows 95/98/ME/NT4/2000/XP, and Windows 2003 on a system with a Pentium or equivalent 386 processor or above. TCP/IP networking is required for network printing support, and it supports Access and SQL database back ends. About 3MB of hard disk space is required to install Print Audit 5. The Macintosh version supports Mac OS 10.3.9+.

You can purchase Print Audit 5's three components, Analysis ($35), Reduction ($40) and Recovery ($115) individually or as a suite. Suite pricing ranges from $150 to $13 per seat, depending on the number of seats you purchase. The suite includes a number of useful utilities. An optional maintenance package is available for Print Audit 5, which includes free major upgrades, priority customer support and product maintenance media (at least four CD-ROMs per year). The maintenance package is priced according to the amount of time covered: One year is 15% of the software list price; two years is 25% of the software list price; and three years is 35% of software list price.

For additional information on Print Audit 5, visit the company Web site. You can download a 15-day demo version of Print Audit 5 for either Windows or the Macintosh, and you'll find more in-depth listing of features and examples of how the application is being used in real-world situations. You'll also find information about other products, such as the aforementioned Copy Audit, a hardware and software combination that's designed to meet all your walk-up copy tracking needs.

Print Audit 5 can help you get a handle on your printing expenses and help ensure that you recover the costs. We found the components to be well-designed, easy to use and not disruptive to workflow.

About the Author: Ron LaFon

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