Choosing a printer is not just about picking features. You need to understand the hardcopy needs of your business processes
For many years now there has been talk of the “paperless office”, a concept that will continue to be unlikely for many businesses for the foreseeable future. This is because there is still a pressing need for printed material and hard copy of data.
But nowadays a number of emerging issues are forcing IT managers to carefully consider what printing equipment and solution is best suited for their particular organisation, with its own unique workflows and business processes. We present some of the emerging technology issues and how they could affect decisions about printing equipment, and offer insight for the IT manager who is assessing his or her infrastructural needs.
Businesses are different and each has particular needs, with different workflows and business processes. They also have differing volumes of hard copy requirements, and input and output options that must be understood, before making the right decision about equipment purchases. For example, does the business produce a high volume of printed output? Is the office printer integrated into an office-wide network? Is there a need for colour? How will a particular printing solution help with cost control?
Let us for a moment consider a small to medium business (SMB). It is often assumed these SMB offices have more limited printing needs than a larger enterprise environment. They could still have occasional scanning/faxing requirements, in which case a small multifunctional printer (MFP) is selected as they can be relatively inexpensive, yet still provide the required flexibility. They also tend to offer the best out-of-the-box functionality, as well as integration and customisation options.
But sometimes these devices are not suited to handling heavy printing workloads, so a bigger more durable MFP is sometimes required for the larger office environment, where there can be a greater need for printed output. These larger MFP machines tend to cost more upfront, but in the long run offer a cheaper “cost per page” than cheaper machines.
Also bigger organisations have historically tended to require bigger devices, with more robust capabilities and multiple paper trays capable of handling more paper, so that the machine is not constantly running out of paper.
If colour is not needed then a monochrome device is often selected, but if graphics and pictures are regularly output for presentations or promotional materials, then consideration must be paid to a machine with more memory that is capable of handling these content rich documents. More memory will allow the organisation to run larger documents and graphics more easily.
Also a single dedicated colour printer maybe the better option here. This would allow for the printing of higher quality colour materials, and at the same time the organisation is printing more standard documents on other monochrome printers.
Another point to consider is how easily can the printer be integrated into the company’s infrastructure, particularly if connected to a company-wide LAN. Can it cope for example with handling many printing requests from hundreds or even thousands of computers?
The IT manager must choose a device that is best suited to the organisation’s particular document management solution, and matches policies that are already in place. Many vendors such as Samsung for example offers a full range of print solutions for the modern business. In the end however, whatever vendor is selected, the solutions must be flexible enough to handle changing requirements, and capable enough to deal with factors such as the rise of mobile devices or cloud computing.
Specific Issues To Consider
With the rise of mobility and the cloud, business processes have partially migrated into cyberspace. Documents and information are handled in electronic form where possible – but all operations still need devices which can accept hard copy (scanners) into the workflow, and deliver hard copy (printers) where and when required.
Whilst we think about how to best equip the organisation with the right output/input options, we also need to consider some specific technical issues that tend to be found across most organisations.
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