Most A/E/C [Architecture/Engineering/Construction] firms live and die by the proposal, so any impediment to a proposal deadline is painful. The printer not working is one of the worst problems that can arise in the “heat of battle” and could prevent your company from submitting the proposal on-time after spending thousands of dollars preparing it.
Even if you’re submitting your proposals electronically, many team members (especially executives) want a printed copy of the proposal for the first review and final red-line reviews.
8 Ways to Mitigate 11th-hour Printer Problems:
Maintenance & Supplies
- Get Good Support – Hire a provider that does both ongoing scheduled maintenance and offers same day support, because coming out tomorrow doesn’t work when you have a deadline at 4 pm today. A good IT firm will help you select the right vendor because they know your environment and needs as well as the major players in your market.
- Have Redundancy – If your company is large enough, have a second printer to use as a backup. Even if the backup printer is a bit slower or on the other side of the office, it beats waiting nervously for support to show up or running to a printer last minute.
- Stock Printer Supplies – Don’t miss the obvious step; you need to keep the essential consumables for your printer(s) in stock including toner, paper, drums, etc. Many vendors do not supply items like drums until the current item is in the last 20% of its life expectancy. You can explain to them the need to have extras on-site at all times because of your intermittent high volume of printing and negotiate that into your contract. Also, don’t forget to reorder those supplies as you use them because you’ll want them in stock before their monitoring system alerts them to ship the necessary supplies to you.
- Use a Current, Name Brand Printer – If your printer needs to be reliable and a workhorse, then don’t bet on unknown brands. Saving a few dollars a month isn’t worth it when you lose out on a multi-million-dollar project because you couldn’t get the proposal printed out on time. Much like the machines construction companies utilize in the field, with printers you get what you pay for in the end. Again, a good IT firm can help you find the right vendor and machine for your needs.
- Keep Servers & Workstations Under Warranty – You will prevent most issues just by having current equipment. Also, most manufacturers do not support equipment once it is out of warranty. Proactively rotating out equipment before it becomes a problem not only helps prevent issues, it saves companies money and allows CFOs to forecast future necessary expenditures. [Learn more about life cycle management.]
- Have Up-to-Date Printer Drivers – Before your back is up against the wall with a major deadline, make sure your computer’s printer drivers are up-to-date to prevent any untimely issues.
- Keep Workstation Software & Operating System Current – Besides maintaining your printer drivers, you need to keep the software and operating system (OS) on your workstation up-to-date. Programs like Adobe Acrobat (Creative Suite with InDesign), Microsoft Office, Java, and Flash have regular updates for security, efficiency, and to stay operational with updates to your operating system.
- Manage Server Updates – Your company needs to keep the servers current, both physically and with the operating system, including the updates. Many programs will not run on dated servers.
A good IT firm will help your company with ensuring your software, drivers, and machines are up-to-date. The firm will manage patches to reduce security risks and can deploy the updates automatically and efficiently behind the scenes without impacting your workforce’s productivity. With the fast pace of the build industry, a good IT firm can keep you proactive, which minimizes problems that a solo IT person can only react to after they happen. [Learn more – Q&A – How to Know If You’ve Outgrown Your IT Guy]
Like with most things, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. A good IT firm will help your company be proactive to reduce the stress of bid days, including with that dreaded printer.