Page count validation

Image source: http://greenfield.blogs.brynmawr.edu/files/2013/02/pages-flip.jpg

One of the common support questions we get with a new installation is the request to validate what a customer is being billed for device usage from their MFD provider. People like an assurance that what they’re recovering through their cost recovery solution is withing a reasonable variance of what they’re being billed.

We normally go into this exercise with an expectation that the cost recovery solution will have a higher page count than the MFD fleet. Why? Well, most solutions we work with count pages at the server. What’s printed isn’t always what comes out. Paper jams happen. Jobs get cancelled at the device for a variety of reasons, and the all time favorite “Please load letter” error on convenience style printers.

However, there are always likely to be jobs on the MFD that our solutions have no visibility of and increase the page count on the device without increasing the figures we report about the device. These can include fax pages received (thankfully becoming less and less), configuration pages generated on the device, but the lion’s share of pages our solutions are blind to come from direct printing. Ideally we would prevent this as part of our design through the use of Access Control Lists on the MFD, so that the only server that can print to the device is one we control. This isn’t always a reality however, as there can be payroll systems and IT test machines that need direct access.

Our approach is to build a list of transactions per device and try and compare against the provided billing report from the MFD provider. Where we see unacceptable or concerning variances on a single machine, we start assessing the likelihood of either of the above situations. In a recent case, we gave confidence to a client of ours by generating a custom data set that showed the number of pages per day, per hour to demonstrate we were counting for prints 24/7.