Want to reduce your annual costs for a PDF solution by using an alternative?

Organizations that are planning to update their current PDF solution are faced with many changes. In addition to end user features PDF use on mobile devices has also been introduced and both named and anonymous deployment have become available.

These changes affect your end users, IT processes and budget planning.

An article by Esther Voskamp, Digital Content Solution Advisor

  • Do your end users really need all available PDF features?
  • Are there more economical alternatives that meet your needs?
  • What impact does this have on manageability?

All of a sudden, it's no longer just a matter of upgrading and renewing licenses, but instead of having to decide on how the PDF solution must be used in the coming years and remain manageable by your IT department. This is the reason that I, a Digital Content Solution Advisor, will discuss six topics that must be addressed when selecting the most suitable PDF solution.

1 Functionality

Do all users need access to PDF tools? Isn't this functionality already available in Microsoft Office? PDF solutions offer end users more functionality than just opening or saving files in PDF format. If your end users only need to be able to open and print PDF files, a free reader is sufficient. If your users only need to save Office documents as PDF files, the functionality provided by Microsoft Office is sufficient. But that is as far as it goes. It is like a car without wheels. Does your organization work with a lot of documents and are productivity and efficiency important? In that case, I recommend that you turn your attention to a professional PDF solution that offers functionality to create, edit, compose, convert and secure documents. A professional (paid-for) PDF solution really provides a professional office organization with tools with added value.

2 Security

Security is crucial when you subject your corporate information to external circumstances. Is this the case with your organization? PDF solutions are provided with security features of varying degrees of strength. These include encryption, access control, certificate signatures and permanent removal of text and graphics. Each software company essentially ensures that their PDF solution has sufficient security features. However, these features can vary a great deal. For instance, encryption options differ as well as whether products meet European standards such as ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute). Obviously, the market leader will be the most advanced in terms of security and thus will determine the guidelines for other manufacturers. Various elaborate features exist for instance at an end user- as well as at a management level. But do you really need such features? One important conclusion is that the security features in each PDF solution will differ from each other. This will be reflected in PDF document security for your end users as well as the security of PDF documents entering your IT environment. What degree of security do you require?

3 Future

"Anytime, anywhere, with any device" has become a catch-all term yet is still a topical one. Is the PDF solution required to work on mobile devices? A lot is being invested in making it possible to support and secure mobile devices. A requirement is that applications must be able to integrate and be available when the user is on the move. Only the market leaders of PDF solutions have developed their product this far. This makes their products "future proof." Such solutions require specific technologies/platforms and this means that you will need to perform a feasibility test in your environment.


ISO ensures that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. For organizations, these are strategic tools that are used to avoid high costs by minimizing waste and errors, thus avoiding reduction of productivity. Many organizations are required by law to use a PDF solution that conforms to the ISO standards for file formats. An example of such a file format is PDF/A-1 (Portable Document Format Archivable). This standard was developed specifically for archiving and is therefore eminently suitable for storing digital documents. Using a format that is in line with the law ensures that documents will be readable in the future. Whether a PDF solution conforms to the ISO standard may be very important when making your choice. It is important to be aware that not all PDF solutions conform to the ISO requirements, and ensure you are well informed.

5 Manageability

The manageability of a solution is rarely described in product descriptions. Often, this is relegated to references elsewhere. As a Solution Advisor for PDF solutions, I can describe positive as well as negative experiences. Below are some examples as an indication of what must be taken account of.

  • After a device crashed, the PDF license was no longer available for use. It was necessary to purchase a new license.
  • After migrating to another PDF solution, the fonts were not transferred. This meant that PDF documents were automatically rendered in another font and were incorrect when sent to customers.
  • To work as efficiently as possible, it is usually preferred to use one single software provider for both reader and creator functionality. Not all software companies offer both these options. This does not always match existing processes.

6 Costs

Budget considerations are increasingly important due to the growing number of software companies, the speed of innovation and changes in the market. The cost of PDF solutions can vary a great deal. I recommend that you make a comparison between different purchasing models. This allows you to determine costs based on unit price with volume discount. There are also purchasing models where you integrate a PDF solution in the standard workstation. Firstly, this standardization provides costs per workstation and these are many times lower than the standard unit price for a license. Secondly, such a solution achieves an improvement in time efficiency. For example, packages need to be created and distributed less often.

I am often asked whether cheaper alternatives are available. My answer is: "Yes." Do these alternatives meet the needs of your end users and IT department? I recommend that you seek advice on the available options. Identify the PDF solutions that actually meet your needs and then determine whether cost savings are possible. This provides you with an informed investment and prevents investing in a product that is not suitable.

Do you want to know more?

Do you want to know more about this subject? Or is this a topic for your agenda in 2016 and do you need assistance in making your choice? If so, please contact us.

Leipzig, 2/19/2016

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