10 Things to Think When Purchasing a Multifunction Printer

What is a multifunction printer?

A multifunction printer (MFP) is a machine that combines the functionality of a printer, copier, scanner and/or faxes into one device. Multifunction printers are a standard choice for budget-minded businesses that want to consolidate assets, decrease costs and develop workflow. As you move to more digital workflows, take a look at our inventory of multifunction printers especially recommended for scanning documents.

Multifunction Printer Evaluation Considerations

To create an informed choice about what multifunction printer is best for you, you need to ask the best questions. Here are the 10 things you must know before you purchase a multifunction printer.

1. Know your demands.

Know what you need the multifunction printer to do for you and your end-users. Beyond printing and copying, how do you want to use the multifunction printer to help maintain documents, decrease paper, analyze workflow, scan to the cloud, operate remotely, etc.? How many copies, print, fax, scan, and email jobs will you work each day? How many users will share the machine? Will you want it to be color capable? Wireless? Mobile and cloud-connected? There are a number of specifications to consider. 

2. Understand the total cost of ownership (TCO) and cost/value advantages.

When assessing a multifunction printer, beware of looking only at the cost of the original hardware. There are a number of other factors to examine, including the cost of equipment. Once ink prices are taken into deliberation, inkjet multifunction printers, initially perceived as doing low-cost, often turn out to have an equivalent or greater TCO than the better-performing laser multifunction printers. TCO can also improve significantly for devices that are hard to use and maintain, unreliable or lack the characteristics and ability to efficiently and effectively produce the results you need.

Your multifunction printer can become a useful asset in maintaining and controlling prices for printing and imaging, and can also add new capabilities to your organization if you choose wisely. Consider how multifunction printers can address the total cost of ownership for printing and imaging assets, great consolidate and better management of resources across the organization, and improve business method efficiency.

3. Know what third parties have to say.

Compare the data on the original performance and management and support issues raised on the vendor’s specification sheets with data from independent examination agencies. What are the experienced people in the industry saying about the quality and performance of the product you are considering?

4. Know how easy it is to join an existing network.

Consider how easily the multifunction printer system will integrate with your current network. Is it easy to extend? Does it need minimal start-up training? Does it come with software or experts to guide you through installation, troubleshooting, and upgrading?

If your workgroup wants to print from multiple, distributed tools (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) to one easily accessible place, then think to buy a wireless, or WiFi, multifunction printer. WiFi multifunction printers join to a network without needing to be hard-wired or cabled into that network. This enables easy mobile printing, without unsightly cords to trip over.

5. Know how easy it is to use.

Prevent bottlenecks and expensive employee downtime by getting a multifunction printer that’s easy to work. Check for intuitive user interfaces, least training requirements, and easily accessible online help and documentation. If you do need support, check that the product is supported by manufacturer-provided service and support coverage.

Tablet-like interfaces execute the newest-generation multifunction printers exceptionally easy to use. They let you touch, swipe, pinch and scroll just like you would on a smartphone or tablet. And with apps combined into the interface, you can add, delete or exchange tools for your own customized workflows.

Mobile- and cloud-connected multifunction printers execute it easy to work from just about everywhere. On these MFPs, apps become your shortcut for downloading, sharing, printing, scanning, distributing — even translating — documents on the go.

6. Know its multitasking abilities.

Look for a multifunction printer that can really multifunction. Can users enter each function they need, even if other functions are already in use? Be informed that some goods, such as All-in-Ones (AiOs), offer multiple functions all in one machine, but may not multitask concurrently. If they cannot fulfill all the functions of a multifunction printer concurrently, then you may risk downtime due to bottlenecks.

7. Know its bi-directional interface capabilities.

A failure to deliver timely and reliable information to users and IT administrators on the status of jobs, lines, and devices will result in more extra intervention by you and your team to solve, check or anticipate difficulties. Solid bi-directional communication, both at the multifunction printer and across the network is necessary to keeping a product running consistently. Look for the print job and device status abilities from the desktop and the ability to view all job queues at the device and across the network.

8. Know the available device management, remote intelligence, and support.

Examine the vendor’s commitment to implementing robust device and fleet management tools and utilities. This is something you may need now or in the future. Look for device connection management software that optimizes the multifunction printer’s availability and uptime. Does the merchant provide better answer time and provide regular quality of service? You need to trust your multifunction printer will stay up and running to guarantee you have an effective and productive office.

The more sophisticated multifunction printers let you not only manage fleets but also information. With the right tools built-in, such as integration with Managed Print Services, your MFP becomes the hub of your document environment. It can automate business processes, optimize device management remotely, and assist your help desk with built-in tools. An app-connected interface presents a gateway to future possibilities for a machine, and report, management as well. 

9. Know whether it provides the level of security and confidentiality you need.

Does the device offer the appropriate level of security for your business? Is it scalable to provide more security if your needs change?

Left unchecked, multifunction printers can be vulnerable entry points for data breaches or malicious attacks. The best way to keep your data secure is to choose multifunction printers that exceed industry standards for intrusion prevention, device detection and data encryption. Also look for multifunction printer manufacturers who partner with information technology security experts, such as McAfee and Cisco.

10. Know what software and solutions are available.

Understand what compatible software and solutions are available from the vendor, as well as their solution partners. 

Multifunction printers can help you streamline duplicate and cumbersome document processes and electronically organize, edit and archive your paper documents. With a multifunction printer and a simple software application, you can turn paper documents into electronic formats and send them to multiple destinations – email, cloud-based document repositories, network folders, remote printers, back-office automation systems, etc. – with a single scan.

App-enabled multifunction printers take these processes a step further. They put functions and workflows into an easy, app interface like what you see on your mobile phone or tablet. They let you print from or scan to the cloud, and connect smartphones to WiFi MFPs so you can work from anywhere, anytime.

Once you’re armed with the knowledge you’ve gathered by asking these questions, you’ll be prepared to make the right decision for your business.

Multifunction printers can help you streamline duplicate and cumbersome document processes and electronically organize, edit and archive your paper documents. With an multifunction printer and a simple software application, you can turn paper documents into electronic format and send to multiple destinations – email, document repositories, network folders, even remote printers – with a single scan.

Once you’re armed with the knowledge you’ve gathered by asking these questions, you’ll be prepared to make the right decision for your business.

10 Things to Think When Purchasing a Multifunction Printer
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