COMPUTER BUSINESS REVIEW

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Issue Date: July 2007

Multifunction printers and document management

26 July 2007
Branislav Zivkovic, managing director, Lexmark South Africa

The multifunction printer (MFP) promised to ease paper-intensive manual processes, increase productivity, save money and streamline business processes. The biggest question asked, however, is if users were adequately educated to use their MFP as part of this strategy.
The MFP can simplify document processes by creating, storing, transmitting, retrieving and manipulating documents as part of a document management solution.
Create:
The plain copy and print function on high-end MFPs have evolved to add value to organisations; offering users additional functions to create folded and stapled booklets and in-house produced colour presentations.
Even though many documents are generated and remain digital throughout their organisational lifecycle, organisations still receive an incredible amount of paper-based communications. Digitising these communications by scanning and storing electronically, will increase workflow, improve internal communication and information sharing.
Store:
A networked MFP can either print incoming faxes automatically or route them to a predefined e-mail or workflow destination. At no time will the network’s security be undermined in any way, since the incoming data can only be processed as an image format. The fax connection cannot receive or transmit executable data such as applications, scripts or viruses.
The same applies to scanned documents that can be stored at any given location through intuitive touch-screen technology.
Transmit:
The most powerful feature of any multifunction device is the scanner. It acts as the onramp onto the network and digital realm. This feature enables a user to share a document with five different colleagues in five different countries within minutes! Suddenly transmitting and sharing information is not a problem.
When performing a scan to e-mail or fax operation, users can look up the recipient’s pre-loaded email address or fax number, rather than having to know the information and type it in manually. To ensure further security measures, sent e-mails can be limited to a predetermined destination (for example, @company.com), so that e-mails are directed to specific individuals.
Scan to e-mail allows users to instantly burst documents to multiple e-mail addresses, instead of copying and distributing it manually.
Manipulate:
Optical character recognition (OCR) software is often incorporated, and allows users to manipulate a hardcopy text or mixed content document into an electronic document format that can be edited, eliminating the hassle of re-creating a document.
There is an array of additional functions on MFPs that can help organisations save money by implementing paper reduction strategies: print on both sides of the page and your paper consumption is immediately halved. Default all printers to draft monochrome printing mode, which forces users to choose colour and higher resolutions only when they really need it; choose multi-up (from 2 to 6 pages are printed on one sheet) printing for e-mails and documents for internal meetings; set-up time-out cancel the print job if the user’s PIN is not entered within a specified time, reducing waste of pages that are printed, but never retrieved from the printer. Print forms printed only when needed; print presentation handouts four slides on one sheet which is still 100% legible; installing the Lexmark Toolbar will allow users to print only the webpage content they want, like text only, eliminating pages with unwanted information being printed.
By implementing a network-enabled multifunction device that can print, copy, scan and fax, a significant improved workflow and cost reduction will be visible, but only once users are educated on these devices, before implementing it as part of their document management strategy.


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