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There are so many things to consider when you are purchasing or leasing an MFP, it isn’t uncommon to forget to ask some important questions. Figuring our where your priorities lie for a new device means a long list of decisions to be made, some obvious and some not so much. The perfect machine is out there, you just have to know what to ask before you commit to office equipment for your business.
Are you going to produce black and white or colour prints?
This is integral to know before you consider any multifunction printer because some printers are dedicated black and white while others have colour capability. Knowing this will narrow your options immediately.
How many pages per month does your office usually produce?
You need to know the volume of printing to find a printer with a pages per minute speed (PPM) that suits your needs. You work in a busy environment and no one has time to wait for print jobs to complete.
How many people will be using the device?
Can one printer handle the number of people who need to use it? If you work in a large office, one device might not be capable of networking to everyone’s computers and still provide the functionality and speed you require. There are solutions for that, but your dealer has to know what you require.
What functions do you need? Print, copy, fax, scan?
If you do more than print (which we are sure you do), you are best to invest in a multifunction printer. There is no reason to purchase or lease several machines for several tasks anymore. A multifunction printer scans, copies, prints and faxes from one device.
How long to you need your device to last?
We are sure the answer is “As long as possible,” but that just isn’t realistic anymore. The way technology is constantly changing, you can invest in a device for longevity, but you will end up with a outdated machine sooner than you want.
What application will you interface with the device? Are there any special requirements for your software?
Modern MFPs allow interfacing with many applications, we just have to know what we’re dealing with. There is no point in investing in a printer that doesn’t work with the software you use regularly, so make sure your dealer is aware of any special requirements with software compatibility.
Do you need your MFP to have additional functionality such as holding forms, feeding a workflow or handling secure print jobs?
The same goes for the inner workings of your office. If you need authorized printing, for example, you need to make sure the device you purchase or lease allows such functions. You don’t want to sign on the dotted line for a printer you later find out doesn’t do what you need.
Do you need integration with a document management system or other back-end application?
Do you need a device that supports mobile printing?
Many offices are embracing a Bring your own Device (BYOD) mentality. That means people are working off of their own mobile devices — smartphones, tablets, laptops — and that requires mobile printing. BYOD doesn’t work if your printer isn’t compatible.
What types and sizes of paper do you need to print?
If you regularly print on legal sized paper or larger, or if you are always using cardstock, your printer has to be prepared for that. Not all printers are built equally, so make sure the paper you use fits in the printer you choose.
What sizes of documents do you need to scan?
If you scan pages that are larger than letter-sized documents, you need an MFP with a plate that is large enough for your scan jobs, otherwise you’ll be scanning documents in pieces.
How many paper sources do you need to run optimally?
Does your office constantly change paper-size needs? If so, you’ll want an MFP with multiple paper trays. You would be amazed at the amount of time that is wasted changing out paper all the time, so let the printer do it for you and keep your time productive.
Do you need ongoing support under contract?
We are going to assume yes. It is unlikely that you would invest in a printer and want to be left to your own devices if something goes wrong. The best way to ensure ongoing support is to lease your MFP. This way, if something happens, all it takes is a quick phone call and help is on the way.
Do you have a preferred brand? Why?
If you’ve found a brand that offers everything you need at a price point you are comfortable with, that’s great. But don’t discredit other brands based on this alone. There may be something else out there that is even better, so hear your dealer out.
Are there any problems or concerns with your current device?
If something is bugging you, tell your dealer. You don’t want to be talked into a machine with the same problems, all because you didn’t speak up.
Why are you upgrading?
There must be a reason your old device isn’t working for you anymore. Maybe it has finally broken down for the last time, or maybe you need new functionality. The reason for your upgrade is the best guide toward your next piece of office equipment.
If you decide to lease, what is the best term for you?
It depends on your monthly budget and what you need, but your lease term can work for you. If you want less service issues and a faster upgrade, a shorter term is for you. Conversely, if upgrading isn’t a concern and you are looking for lower monthly payments, consider a longer lease.
Should you buy or lease?
This comes down to two major components: your upfront investment and when you plan on upgrading next. A lease allows you to spread your investment out over the course of your term and means you can upgrade when that term is over. Purchasing, however, means a high initial investment on a machine that is yours to keep. That means next time you want to upgrade, you have to go through this whole process again.
Will you require support outside regular business hours or on weekends?
If this is the case, it isn’t a problem, but make sure your dealer is aware. Something will have to be written into your service agreement to ensure you get service in a timely fashion outside if business hours if necessary.
What is your total budget?
Finally, total budget. This goes beyond you monthly budget for a lease or the upfront investment if you are purchasing. Consider your budget for operational costs as well. If you need an energy efficient device that won’t up your electricity bill, or a printer that will not suck all of your budget into toner cartridge replacement, there is a solution out there. But an operating budget is the need-to-know information you need before you buy or lease.
There is no reason to invest in equipment that was not designed for exactly what you need. You shouldn’t be disappointed with the performance, longevity, operating costs or service. There is an MFP out there that will match your business’ needs, you just have to ask the right questions to find it.