by Steve Feldstein
For decades, business professionals and social commentators have entertained the idea of a paperless office. While it is clear that electronic processes have significantly transformed business workflows, it is also evident that most offices are still far from being paperless. Print is a time-tested way for important information to be absorbed, communicated, and organized. It continues to offer benefits around comprehension, convenience, and simplicity. As a result, businesses large and small still rely heavily on print, and often on devices with the added ability to scan, integrate with business systems and connect with cloud services.
More than ever, businesses rely on value-added resellers and dealers to provide guidance on how best to select and implement document imaging devices that contribute to a more efficient workflow. While there’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation, the goal remains the same. IT departments strive to optimize their print environment to achieve the maximum amount of productivity and cost savings for their employees.
Print and scan needs vary greatly across industries and departments. Consider these factors when advising clients on device selection:
- Human Resources: HR professionals handle a wide range of documents, including job opening announcements, job applications, new employee packets, training materials, benefits information, performance reviews and workplace injury reports.
- Accounting: Similar to HR, accounting departments continue to depend greatly on paper and printing for their day-to-day workflows. Companies continue to maintain hardcopy files for purchasing, expense reporting, accounts receivable, accounts payable and sales operations.
- Legal: Legal departments continue to rely heavily on paper as a way to uphold legal norms and ensure privacy of information. Very often, important notes about cases are captured on paper, with hardcopy files of relevant case paperwork retained, as well.
- Healthcare: Healthcare is one of the most paper-intensive industries in the United States, and is often utilized for information collection and sharing with patients and third-party organizations like insurance companies and other healthcare facilities Given the high amount of paper used in healthcare, there is a definite opportunity for cost savings within the print environment.
- Insurance: The insurance industry is also highly paper-intensive, with many applications, supporting documents and statements being transmitted in paper form.
- Real Estate: The real estate industry also relies heavily on documents and printing, despite the abundance of property information that is now available online. The value of printed property information to clients can be difficult to quantify, but the assumption is that they help make property buying easier as well as show the realtor’s commitment to their satisfaction.
Optimizing the Print Environment
A more balanced deployment of devices—through the placement of the right printers in the right places—may help organizations achieve these objectives. When recommending solutions for clients, consider the following best practices for employing a printer fleet:
- Ensure Print Devices are Not Underused: Many mid- and large-sized businesses have high-end multifunction printers (MFP) with robust page volume capabilities, printing support and finishing features (stapling, hole punching, folding, etc.). However, they are not necessarily taking advantage of their capabilities. This potential under-usage has significant cost and productivity implications for these companies. Devices with these capabilities tend to be much more expensive than their more basic counterparts, and when they are part of a service contract, the pricing is often based on an expected level of monthly print volume that is fairly elevated, given the nature of the devices.
- Ensure Print Devices are Effectively Deployed: Instead of having a few high-end (and costly) MFPs spread across the organization, it may make sense to have a greater number of more basic devices in key locations. In addition to the cost and productivity benefits mentioned earlier, this approach can generate additional efficiencies by bringing employees closer to a printer and ensuring that a printer is always available to handle their job.
- Leverage Other Device Features for Improving Document Productivity: While print remains an integral part of business workflow in many organizations, many businesses are transitioning over to processes that are more digital in nature—including processes around information sharing, storage and retrieval. Print devices are contributing to this shift through their electronic capture and routing capabilities, sometimes helping organizations save hundreds of thousands of dollars. Compatible solutions and services for tasks like print management/cost recovery, content management, and industry-specific business processes (including compliance requirements) can help organizations derive full value from their print devices.
While the world is increasingly operating through digital means, businesses continue to find value in hardcopy files and the print devices that produce them. A printed version of a contract, presentation, or spreadsheet can be particularly effective in communicating an idea or catering to a client or business partner. This is why organizations continue to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on printing and hardcopy workflows.
These devices and practices are ever-evolving to accommodate new workflows and needs. This magnifies value of resellers in helping businesses continually evaluate and modernize their print infrastructure — just as with any part of the IT environment. With insightful guidance from trusted resellers, businesses can further maximize cost savings, productivity and employee satisfaction.
Steve Feldstein is Director of Marketing – SMB Laser & Scanner Products, Brother.