With technology developing rapidly, organisations have to decide how to best combine paper and digital workflows to maximise productivity.
Employees now have the flexibility of working in the office or remotely, anywhere in the world. The introduction of ‘Bring your own device’ policies also allows employees to use their tablets and smartphones to access server data or print.
To ensure continued high productivity, organisations need to be capable of creating a highly adaptable, reliable and secure print infrastructure – a smart multifunction printer can provide the hardware necessary to make this possible.
The smart multifunction printer
Smart multifunction printers provide an integral business process feature by combining a variety of digital and paper-based features into one central document device.
You can scan to the cloud, print from your mobile or use built-in software to synchronise payment or HR software with invoices or application forms.
This allows users to reduce their reliance on expensive paper-based processes, moving towards digital formats, reducing the opportunities for lost files and error.
The majority of printing firms now offer smart MFP devices, including Xerox, Canon, Dell, HP, Konica, Lexmark and Ricoh.
Examples include Xerox’s WorkCentre 7220, which comes complete with ConnectKey controller technology.
Software like Xerox’s Connectkey software allows you to scan a document and distribute it to a cloud solution of your choice, transforming a paper copy into a shareable digital format, which can be accessed anywhere in the world, from a digital device.
You can also scan can documents to multiple destinations, like your email, fax or network, saving you time from having to manually attach files.
Look out for an MFP that connect to the most popular cloud services like Google Docs/Drive, Evernote, SharePoint Online, Dropbox, Salesforce.com and Office 365. Just be sure that you control how information is copied to the cloud, you don’t want your staff copying intellectual property to their personal cloud services.
Create editable, searchable digital formats
One of the most impressive features with smart printers is the ability to convert paper documents into editable digital documents and text-searchable PDFs, through your scanner, via Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
This means you can do away with filing cabinets and files, storing everything digitally instead, saving you a huge amount of money in paper and spatial costs.
MFP’s allow you to connect and route documents across existing content management software, providing a highly efficient business process function.
For example, you can scan an expense receipt and automatically route the information to accounting for approval. You can also scan HR documentation, like written application forms, inputting all the relevant details into one central database, reducing the time taken to sort and file.
Look for a solution which allows the customisation of workflow icons to be created on the MFP panel, making it easy to route documents to the relevant enterprise application.
Print from mobile or tablet
Most Smart MFPs enable mobile workers to print directly from their mobile device through authentication to the network using either a user ID/password or ID card authorisation, allowing you to print wirelessly from the train, back to your office printer.
Look for an MFP that is compatible with AirPrint, Google Cloud Print and third party solutions such as Cortado and EFI PrintMe Mobile. The majority of manufacturers will have their own remote-friendly printing apps, like Xerox Mobile Print or LexPrint.
Mobile printing means that firms need to develop security processes to deal with external devices when connecting to their network. It’s good to make sure that your printer includes embedded security from someone like McAfee.
Look for hardcopy security, which ensures that documents are only released to authorised users, and hard disk security like hard disk drive encryption and data overwrite security. All your output should be tracked and monitored through comprehensive reporting tools for auditing purposes.
This post was written by First Choice, who provide managed print service solutions and stock a range of innovative multifunction devices.