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The Basics of Selecting the Best Multi-Function Device for Your Office

Kelly Glaser

How many printers, scanners, or fax machines do you have in your office? How many of these machines don’t get used every day? How many of these are broken or not working properly? Depending on your office size, I’m guessing you have print devices that are connected to your network but rarely or never get used.

I have visited thousands of companies in my career and it’s amazing how common this issue is. The good news is that almost any organization can prevent a lot of unnecessary expenses and headaches by adopting multi-function devices (MFD). A single MFD can replace a handful of under-utilized single-function printers, scanners, and/or fax machines, delivering new efficiencies and capabilities to any business.

If you are considering a multi-function machine for your business, there are a couple of important considerations when selecting a machine. Here is what I tell our customers before they adopt any MFD:

Is the MFD Secure?

If an MFD is unprotected any sensitive information sent to the machine can be exposed. If proper security measures aren’t in place, such as authorized user lists, hard drive encryption and swipe-to-print technology, it leaves data vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Some analysts suggest that printers pose the greatest security risk to companies, and it’s estimated that 60% have suffered a print-related data breach. If a networked MFD is unsecured, hackers can even intercept documents or access stored data without anyone ever knowing, exposing sensitive employee information, classified product data and more. Even if printers are equipped with various security settings, if they’re not activated and properly configured and updated, they could provide an entry point for malware or viruses.

Does the device offer the appropriate level of security for your business, especially if you work in a regulated medical or financial services industry? Is it scalable to provide more security if your needs change? Ensure that the device has software in place to not only mitigate today's threats but also have the capability to receive updates to prevent future threats.

Are You a Size A3 or A4?

If you’re not in the office technology business, terms like A3 or A4 don’t mean much to you. But when choosing an MFD, A3 or A4 is an important consideration. It simply refers to the maximum paper size you will be able to print, copy, or scan.  An A4 devices have the ability to work with up to 8 ½ by 14” paper, while A3 devices can work with up to 11x17” paper.  Some color A3 devices will handle 12x18” or even 13x19” paper stock.

If you don’t have a need to handle large or odd paper sizes, an A4 device will typically take up less space and come in at lower price points than their A3 counterparts. And if you need a more capable machine, the large A3 will be essential. In addition, I encourage office workers to consider special finishing capabilities, like the ability to staple, saddle stitch, fold, or punch holes in reports, invoices, marketing materials, or other documents your office may produce.

Can it Handle the Job?

One fundamental question many offices without a Managed Print Service struggle with is simply figuring out how many pages are processed or printed each year. You will want to choose a device that will not only handle your current volume but will also be capable of handling any anticipated growth over the next three to five years.

Just as importantly, is the MFD easy to use? Does it have a common user interface? For larger fleets, organizations will want to have devices with the same interface so that regardless of machine capabilities the look and feel is the same. Your staff will be more productive if they know how to use the machine and not have to figure out how to get simple tasks done if they are in another department or floor. And because an MFD will be expected to handle jobs that may have once been done on different machines, make sure you can prevent bottlenecks and costly employee downtime by finding a multifunction printer with easy-to-manage workflows and the ability to handle multiple jobs concurrently.

Check for intuitive user interfaces, training, and useful online help and documentation. (Tablet-like interfaces make the newest-generation multifunction printers especially easy to use.) In addition, check that you can monitor the flow of data regarding job status, print queues and device readiness between users and IT administrators. This information equips you or your service provider to identify improvement and cost-saving opportunities.

Lastly, the single most important factor is choosing the right partner. A Managed Print provider will help you select the correct device based upon your current needs and business growth. They will provide timely and efficient service that also has a pro-active component to reduce future downtime.  All the features and capabilities will be rendered useless if the device isn’t up and running when you need it. If you have any questions, talk to the Managed Print experts at the Gordon Flesch Company for a free, in-house assessment.

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