If you're in the market for a new office printer, you have a lot of choices. A multifunction printer, or MFP, combines the functions of a printer, copier, scanner, and fax machine into one. You can help significantly improve workflow and reduce costs by purchasing one that matches your needs.
Many of our customers ask, “What's the best copier (or printer)?”
The answer is “it depends.”
There's often no one single “best” copier – copiers from the major manufacturers are all excellent with various pros and cons to each.
The answer to the “best copier” is really quite simple – it's the one that cost-effectively accomplishes the business tasks that you need it to do.
The best copier for a marketing department might not be the best copier for a doctor's office or school district.
Not all copiers do the same tasks, so it's important to carefully weigh your options. The following 10 considerations will help you choose the right printer for your office.
1. Assess Your Needs
Your workflow and the number of users who will share the printer play a big part in deciding which copier to buy or lease. Of course it needs to print and make copies. What else do you need to do?
- Do you also need to scan documents? You need to look for a copier that comes equipped with capture software that integrates with your IT infrastructure or works with your current capture software.
- Are you attempting to streamline business processes? You need good network connectivity.
- Do you need to fax?
- Do you need color or only black and white?
- Do you need to staple, hole punch, or other finishing options?
You also need to consider your daily printer demands. What volume do you print/copy/scan daily? Weekly? Monthly?
All of these questions – and more – will determine device selection.
Before choosing a multifunction printer, make sure you understand the capabilities of each and if the one you're considering will meet all of your daily needs.
2. How Much Will it Cost to Operate?
The cost of owning a copier goes beyond the upfront cost of purchasing the device.
- How much will the supplies cost?
- How much will it cost to repair?
- How quickly can it be repaired? Many copiers today are starting to allow remote troubleshooting for software issues, which allows the machine to be fixed and working again faster than waiting for a service technician to arrive.
A copier can actually help you manage costs for printing and imaging, so take into consideration the total cost of ownership (TCO) before committing.
3. Read Reviews
Do your homework. Read reviews from industry experts and other businesses that have used the device. Compare manufacturer spec sheets with independent testing agencies. LinkedIn and Google Reviews are excellent resources to find reviews.
Company Facebook pages can also be used to see how customer-focused your copier partner is (it's always a good idea to work with someone who is interested in selling you the right copier, not the one that they'll get the most commission from).
4. How Well Will the MFP Work With Existing Networks?
Before you invest in a major piece of office equipment, it's a good idea to find out how well it plays with your existing systems. Other considerations include how easy it is to set up. Does it come with tutorials or wizards to guide you through installation? Will any training be required? Will you have to install anything on office computers? Will the new system render other systems obsolete?
5. How Easy Is It To Use?
The last thing you want is a fancy new copier that no one knows how to use. Choose a copy machine with an intuitive operating system that requires minimal training. Look for easy-to-access online help and documentation. It's also a good idea to choose a copier that comes with manufacturer technical support (especially if you're going to do maintenance and support in-house).
Some copiers will even have “how to” videos available on the control panel of the copier itself.
6. But What Does It Really Do?
Some multifunction copiers may not deliver all the capabilities you want. While the copier offers multiple functions in one device, it can only perform one function at a time. This can lead to workflow bottlenecks. Depending on your office needs, this could pose a problem.
7. Communication Is Key
As with all things, communication is paramount when choosing the most efficient copier. Does the copier display jobs, queues, and problems at the device and across the network? Can users and IT administrators easily view and edit the status of jobs in the pipeline? If not, you and your IT staff could spend more time troubleshooting copiers than supporting your core business.
8. Does it Come With Support?
Choose a printer that comes with ongoing support to help keep your copier running efficiently now and in the future. Does the copier dealership have a good reputation for fast response times? If you choose to buy direct from the manufacturer, is service good in your region? Do a little research to get an idea of the relationship you're entering.
9. Does it Meet Your Security Needs?
Depending on the nature of your business, you may need a higher level of security. Make sure the copier you purchase offers the security you need and is scalable in the event your security needs change. Options include pull printing capabilities that allow print jobs to be released at the copier as well as card readers, PIN codes, and even biometric readers.
10. What About Software?
Find out about any compatible software and solutions that come with the copier you want to buy as well as what software from other vendors will work with your new copier.
There are many apps common that can make a big impact on your everyday work. Here are a few:
- Scan to email
- Scan to the cloud
- Mobile printing
- Google Cloud Print
- Connectors to various document management products like Square 9
For example, you can use your copier to convert paper documents into electronic format and send to multiple destinations – including email, network folders, document management repositories, and remote printers – all with a single scan. These digital documents can then be used to launch workflows, streamlining your business processes.
Your copiers are an excellent way to improve document management in your office.
Now that you know what questions to consider before purchasing a printer, you're ready to shop. If you need help along the way, Coordinated Business Systems is just a phone call away.
Once you're armed with the knowledge you've gathered by asking these questions and thinking about what you really need, you'll be prepared to make the right decision for your business.