How to Find the Right Multifunction Printer for Your Business or Organization
When shopping for a new copier or multifunction printer (MFP), things can get tricky. When you look at the specification sheets of similar devices from different manufacturers, at first glance, it may not seem like there is much differentiation among the group. But just because these devices look the same on paper doesn’t mean there isn’t a difference between them. And if it’s been a while since you’ve been in the market for a piece of print hardware, you may be surprised at what today’s devices offer.
So, what do you look at when you’re buying a new copier? Well, a lot of that depends on who you are and what type of office you’re buying for. Different users will have different needs, so it makes a difference whether you’re buying or leasing a device for a school district, legal office or small business, for example. But some things matter to everyone, such as security, cloud friendliness and user experience.
When searching for your next MFP, security should be one of — if not the most — important feature you consider. That’s because an unsecured MFP can represent a serious security threat and introduce difficulties when trying to comply with regulations — for example, healthcare users might have difficulties with HIPAA regulations without the proper security. New vulnerabilities are being discovered daily, representing a huge risk users might not even be aware of.
While there is no such thing as 100% secure, some MFPs come with protections to help IT departments build the tallest wall possible. For example, look for devices that leverage the type of strong security features you’d expect on a computer, such as BIOS integrity check at startup and built-in anti-virus solutions.
In 2021, Microsoft Universal Print became available to most business-class Office 365 users. The solution enabled businesses to lift their print infrastructure onto the cloud, eliminating the need for print servers on premises and other equipment required to support the print environment. Microsoft Universal Print also helped businesses avoid print and scan problems that many hybrid and distributed workers experienced. Without a cloud-print solution, printing from and scanning to repositories and applications on the corporate network from a remote location was difficult. Users would need to implement annoying workarounds, like emailing documents to themselves so they could print locally, which is inefficient and introduces added risks as potentially sensitive information leaves the firewall. Microsoft Universal Print provides a direct and seamless connection between the MFP and the repositories and applications on the corporate network and hosted in the cloud.
Cloud and hybrid working models don’t appear to be going anywhere, so support for cloud print is important. Look for devices that work with Microsoft Universal Print out of the box, making it simple to get the device up and running and integrated with solutions on your network.
Users want simple, easy, and intuitive user experiences at the MFP. They don’t want to spend time organizing documents and digging through menus for settings, and they definitely don’t want to have to do anything twice. And if they don’t like the experience, they’ll find an easier workaround, and your investment is wasted.
With that in mind, here are some features you should look for that may make one device stand out above the others:
Touchscreen displays that are large, customizable, and easy to interface with. Bonus points for an extendable keyboard.
Large, clearly labeled tiles make it easy for users to find the settings and workflows they need to get the job done. Touchscreen displays that can be customized mean individual users get personalized user interfaces, complete with shortcuts to all the workflows and settings they use the most, when they authenticate at the device. With their most-used features on the surface, workers don’t have to spend a lot of time configuring jobs.
Typing on a touchscreen, however, isn’t nearly as easy as typing on a keyboard — keyboard users average around 52 words per minute versus 38 on a touchscreen, and are less prone to the erroneous “fat-finger” entry. Some MFPs come with retractable keyboards, helping those who need to enter data at the MFP save time and reduce mistakes.
Workers today expect to be able to print from their phones. Different platforms have different protocols, so look for devices that come with built-in mobile applications that allow for smooth, seamless integration with both iOS and Android. And it’s not just about printing — some MFPs include software that allow users to scan documents to their phones or tablets as well.
Businesses are scanning more and more these days as they accelerate their digitization journeys. Between organizing pages before and after scanning and selecting the right job settings, scanning can be a time-consuming and frustrating experience. If you need to do large volumes of scanning — in a legal office, for example — look for devices that support scan speeds over 100 ppm so workers aren’t waiting for large jobs to finish. Additionally, models that offer multi-feed detection can help ensure documents get scanned correctly. If two or more pages feed at the same time for any reason, the sender would otherwise have to rescan the entire document.
Other features to look for are devices with sensors in the automatic document feeder that detect the document size and orientation and automatically apply compression settings, so users don’t have to dig through menus to apply those settings manually. That means users simply drop their documents into the feeder and hit a button — the MFP handles the rest.
While print, copy, scan, and fax needs vary across organizations, security, cloud friendliness, and the user experience are important to all. Without a secure device, your business is at risk of becoming a cybercrime victim or facing penalties for regulatory violations. Without a cloud-friendly device, you can spend more on your print environment than you need to, and workers will face problems. And if the user experience is poor, workers won’t be as productive, and your investment may be wasted. To learn how managed print services can help you secure your organization’s print environment, watch this video (01:14).