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Simplifed Printing from Oracle EBS with Centralized Printer Management

The Company:

Life Care Services (LCS) is the leading developer and manager of senior living communities throughout the United States. LCS maintains its corporate presence in Des Moines, Iowa and works with locations in over 35 states. The geographically diverse communities all use a single instance of Oracle EBS to submit and store financial, payroll, and human resource data for the entire company. A common EBS instance allows LCS to evaluate this data for all the communities in aggregate, while allowing the individual locations to maintain flexibility in their day-to-day operations.

The Problem:

The EBS instance for LCS is managed at the corporate headquarters, but individual community users need to print EBS reports at their communities. In order for IT to efficiently manage printers across geographically diverse sites within a centralized instance of Oracle, the LCS team configured one or two network printers at each site for EBS printing.

In order to print reports originating in EBS, IT had to configure each printer in Windows, configure it again on the UNIX print server (i.e. CUPS), and then register the printer within Oracle. According to Zimmerman, “When a new printer came in, I’d spend an hour doing the configuration and then verifying that it worked with the users.” This tedious process is challenging for EBS users who are trying to register a single printer in Oracle, but it was a nightmare for the LCS team who was registering numerous printers at each community.

As the number of EBS-registered printers approached 300, Zimmerman quickly realized that setting up printers was only half the battle. Managing and troubleshooting printers in remote offices was nearly impossible. “I inadvertently found myself operating as a printer technician,” says Zimmerman. “When printing problems occurred, I would typically have to locate the printer on the UNIX back-end, pause all of the jobs, and then go through hours of iterations of uninstalling and reinstalling drivers, downloading updated drivers, or asking the user do a power cycle on the printer to understand the crux of the issue and how to fix it.”

The Solution:

LCS selected AventX Print Xpress to simplify printer management in EBS. AventX Print Xpress eliminates the need to register or maintain printers in Oracle and UNIX, and allows users to print formatted Oracle reports to any printer they would use for printing Microsoft Office documents. Now, users at any community can print to their default Windows printer, to any Windows printer mapped to their PC, or they can “print-preview” the report on-screen to see it in their default PDF viewer. “We are no longer maintaining printers in Oracle,” states Zimmerman. “Instead, AventX Print Xpress provides three set ‘printers’ configured in Oracle that are universal for everyone across all sites.”

Users at LCS particularly like the print-preview functionality. When users know Oracle will take significant time to process a print request, they submit the request through print-preview toward the end of the day. When they log in the next morning, AventX presents the completed reports on-screen. This functionality allows users to be more efficient by having the information they need to start their day when they log-in, rather than allowing the first part of the day to be hijacked waiting for reports necessary to begin their tasks.

Since AventX Print Xpress was implemented, Wade and his team spend less time setting up printers and troubleshooting missing print jobs. Now, support personnel has more time to focus on productive projects that help local network teams at the individual communities. “The AventX Print Xpress delivery status form offers more visibility into the status of a job, and the information is easy to understand,” says Zimmerman. “AventX Print Xpress has made a very positive impact on our business. Our interaction with STR Software has been great, and the users are very impressed. This has been a really good experience for us.”

STR Software specializes in document delivery solutions for email, fax, internet fax, and print. The AventX Product Suite integrates with ERP applications including Oracle EBS, SAP, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, SunGard and internally-developed solutions in UNIX, Linux and MPE environments.

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