An interesting side effect of increasing MFP sales is that they are making scanners more accessible to office workers. While scanners have been around for a long time, they have not really made a big impact in the office environment, instead remaining in specialist areas such as graphics production. Now, however, many businesses are finding that the scanner capability offered by their MFP can be put to good use. With appropriate software, MFPs can be set up to scan documents such as invoices and send the data directly to relevant applications such as Sage accounting software. Or they can be used to scan important documents directly to a PDF format file which can then be automatically sent to a backup device – a function which is likely to grow in importance as new auditing practices become enshrined in EU law over the coming years.
Whether you are buying one device or are looking to equip your business with a whole fleet of high volume workgroup MFPs, it is important to remember that these machines are going to be responsible for a variety of mission critical tasks within your organisation. It is, therefore, vital to ensure you make the right choices. Before you even start thinking about which manufacturer or model you might be interested in, it is a good idea to do a full audit of your document handling needs. How many mono pages do you print and copy? What about colour? How many faxes are sent? Do you, or are you likely to use a scanning capability much? How will this change as your business grows, and how would you like to use any additional capabilities that new technology can bring to your organisation? Only by forming a clear picture of what your current and future needs are can you hope to pick the right deal and fully exploit the capabilities of your new machines.
Choosing the right supplier is essential. In many respects this decision is more about the organisation you deal with than the actual machine itself. Taylor said “Look at who is providing the service and most importantly what resources they have locally. What you do not want to do is pick a business partner who is very competently capable of servicing mid range machines and find you are the only high end customer and therefore every time they come to see your machine, yours is the only one they are looking after, so every thing is the first time for them with you. It is key to not just pick a good national partner but look at a micro level, what they do locally.” The right supplier should also act as a partner, helping you to promote the new services you have acquired to both your clients and within your own organisation.
“Today it is all about consultancy, the salesmen and the dealer have to talk to the customer, it is not a case of box shifting, certainly on high volume. High volume is a solution to the company in its own right. Quite often it is mission critical, if that machine goes down it costs the company money because it produces invoices or documentation that’s needed in volume.”
One of the disadvantages of consolidating so many document handling tasks into a single device is that so many of your processes become dependant on the availability of that device, just one failure can bring everything grinding to a halt. However, this scenario can be avoided by selecting a device which can still function if one of its components, such as the scanner or fax, fails and it is important to find out if a device offers this ability when making your choice. Equally, the device needs to be able to multi-task. If an MFP is expected to take on the workload of several single function devices, it should be able to perform those various functions simultaneously in order to at least maintain the same levels of productivity. If users cannot send faxes while somebody else is printing or copying, then the work queue starts to back up and productivity again begins to suffer. Also, when a job queue does start to form it should be possible for jobs to be prioritised, so that an urgent job can interrupt a long print run.