by April 26, 2012 0 comments

It wasn’t long ago when a printer was just another printer — it did what it was supposed to do — Print! Fast-forward to today, there has been a near 180-degree shift. As business demands have evolved, the printer too has kept pace and is morphing beyond its core function of printing a document. A modern laser printer is more than a device — it is capable of running special software and solutions that allow businesses to improve their workflows, efficiencies and productivity, while reducing printing costs.

Historically, businesses have had limited means of tracking their imaging and printing costs. They have had no automatic, cost-effective means of measuring how much they are printing and of the printed documents, what proportion is going to waste. Today, however, there is a growing interest in measuring and tracking the printing volumes as businesses are printing more documents than ever before. Moreover, printing is now seen as a business-critical process and closely linked to the IT infrastructure.[image_library_tag 445/63445, border=”0″ align=”right” hspace=”4″ vspace=”4″ ,default]

The laser printers available today are helping make this possible for all businesses. Additionally, the same printing solutions and services that were earlier accessible to large enterprises and helped them streamline their printing infrastructure are now available to the SMBs.

However, these organizations need to be careful in their choices as they are faced with limited resources and expertise. Although printing is often discounted as a cost overhead by many of SMEs, they are now able to control and manage their printing costs in the long run by taking the very first step right – choosing the appropriate printer(s) for their business.

Selecting a printer or printer fleet for the business should be an outcome of rational consideration of various factors such as printing requirements, budget allocation, minimum print wastage, environment friendliness of product etc. SMEs should also ensure that printing becomes an effective tool for them in achieving their business objective rather than they being burdened by printing costs. Apart from obvious factors such as printing requirements, number of people per printer (a minimum of 10 users to 1 printer is considered an ideal), choosing between single-function or multi-function., SMEs should also consider:

1. Duty cycle of printer: Duty cycle is a printer related specification that is generally used to define the printing workload that a printer can handle. Laser printer duty cycles range from 5,000 pages per month for an entry-level printer; and go up to 300,000 pages per month for departmental workhorses; with many other options in between to choose from. Before selecting a printer for your office, keep into consideration the duty cycle of the printer depending upon your printing requirements. You would not want a printer that breaks down in between because its duty cycle does not match with the number of pages you need to print. A related consideration is pages per minute (PPM); laser printers can print as fast as 62 ppm, while the entry-level ones generally manage 15-18ppm mark.

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2. Smart printers: Much the same way that the personal computer runs software that can be upgraded, and is also able to run applications that let you achieve specific tasks, today’s advanced printers and multi-function devices come equipped with FutureSmart, a new firmware technology that can be upgraded to support new features in the future. For businesses, it means investment protection since their printer will never become obsolete with every latest technology change. Another innovation from HP, the Open Extensibility Platform (OXP) essentially converts a printer into a platform — able to run third-party apps that dramatically change the way your printer accesses information (sometimes from the cloud) and print it intelligently for you. For example, a typical application can enable you to reduce manual workflow processes by scanning to a document management system, or run job accounting software to monitor and control your printing costs. Printers loaded with these solutions are capable of streamlining time-consuming document management and workflow processes and end up adding tremendous value to your business operations.

3. Controlling access to color printing: Gone are the days when you would have to worry about color printers being used for employees’ personal use. Today’s enterprise-class printers come with a solution that allows you to manage printing cost by assigning color usage to the relevant department and by deciding exactly when and who should use color in your office. Using this feature you can maximize the potential of color printing in the office without worrying about the color printing misuse.

4. Safety from security risks: Every day, employees print, fax, copy and scan confidential company information to share it with others. Data breaches from your imaging and printing devices is a big concern and can cost an organization dearly. Printing and imaging systems and datathat passes through then can be compromised in a variety of ways. By assessing your fleet and determining what types of devices you have, how they are used and by whom, you can implement security features and solutions that greatly reduce the chance of a breach. If data security is a concern for you, choose a printer, which provides security of document, security of device and protection of network.

5. Environment-friendly: It is always better if you can contribute your bit towards keeping environment ‘green’ while pursuing your business operations. Many printers today come with advanced features like duplex printing and auto-on/auto-off; while innovations like Smart Web Printing can dramatically reduce paper and toner wastage by reducing the paper wastage. A printer that cares for environment translates into real business value by letting you print intelligently and reducing paper, toner and electricity consumption.

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

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