We call them ‘printers’, but for decades the devices that sit in every corporate and home office have been doing so much more than just printing. We know that most printers can copy, print, scan, and fax documents; however, their functionality goes way beyond these simple functions.
Advances in technology have evolved the humble printer into what is now called a “Multifunction Device” (MFD). Today’s MFDs run at far greater capacity, use less energy than ever before, and save staff time by improving office efficiencies.
Many business owners are unlikely to be aware of how an MFD can help improve their office processes. The range of capabilities on offer is so wide that the decisions on what to use and how to use it can be overwhelming – so how do you decide what MFD to purchase for your office? Here are a few handy tips:
1. Review costs of printing and imaging
Consider how MFDs might reduce printing costs and make your processes more efficient. To control costs you might consider the latest energy-efficient MFDs, or create usage limits for staff, such as for colour printing. It is also worth bearing in mind that an MFD means you have just one device that does everything, as opposed to multiple devices each consuming energy, complicating your networking and occupying valuable office floor-space.
The Canberra Institute of Technology found that switching to more modern, efficient MFDs reduced their printing costs by 47 per cent in the first year. They were also better able to track how much each department printed and allocated resources where they were needed most.
2. Review your environmental goals
For companies prioritising sustainability and corporate responsibility, switching to environmentally responsible MFDs could help meet those goals. Companies can often not only save paper, but also reduce electricity consumption through the device itself, or automate storage to ease the burden on data servers.
Property company Stockland, for example, consolidated their device fleet and achieved a 50 per cent reduction in energy use.
3. Save staff time – does it automate manual processes?
Beyond printing and copying, how do you want your MFD to help your organisation manage documents, reduce paper, or simplify workflow?
Evaluate document workflow software available directly from the vendor. These solutions can automate manual processes, such as tracking where a document is (seeing if a recipient received your fax from your desk, or alerting the sender if it has not) or scanning a file to your document management system directly from the MFD. By automating as many processes as possible, you allow staff to focus on their core job functions, and spend less time on administrative tasks like filing, scanning, and tracking documents.
If you’re not sure about some of the capabilities, talk to a consultant and explain your business objectives, such as more efficient archiving, a paperless office, or a reduction in the number of duplicate scans. This will allow them to recommend the right solutions for you. Some vendors will even be able to tailor solutions to your specific needs.
4. Does your current device prevent or anticipate problems?
Find out if your provider offers a service on your devices to proactively monitor the status of jobs, queues and issues to anticipate and prevent problems. Bi-directional communications such as eAssist will ensure that your staff are not wasting time dealing with technical problems. Having issues resolved before a user is aware of them will also reduce the amount of time employees spend fixing paper jams and waiting on printing.
5. Is your vendor committed to customer service?
It’s not just the technology that’s important – consider carefully the vendor’s commitment to service. Ask them about their response time to maintenance issues over the phone and by visiting your office, their help desk’s issue resolution track record, if they are available 24/7, and if they are Australia-based. Check if the vendor provides robust device and fleet management tools, utilities and/or managed services to help address your business needs.
6. Does it meet security and compliance standards?
Security is becoming increasingly important to businesses. Some MFDs retain data on their internal hard drives. The more advanced MFDs can be set to enable data deletion through security settings that will help keep your information secure. Additional security options might also include hard disk crushing to ensure that data cannot be retrieved.
Assess the vendor’s approach to security and compliance – data deletion for example is often a chargeable option rather than a standard service or feature. Find out about their commitment to security standards and third-party testing and certification. Security should be a core component of the MFD and can be advanced with add-on tools.
Work with a company with a proven track record of excellent customer service that takes time to get to know your business and recommend the best solution for you. The company you partner with should ensure that transition processes are seamless and pain-free, and allow you to see your office become more efficient and returns on your investment quickly.
Scott Jackson is the National Manager, Office Solutions Business at Fuji Xerox Australia.