Four considerations when you are looking at a printer upgrade.
Read time: 10 minutes
If you want the best, most cost-effective results, your printer upgrade should do more than simply replace the one you have with the latest model. Whether you’re upgrading one printer or an entire fleet, today’s technology offers amazing functionality that you may find helps you realize savings and a strong return on your investment (ROI).
How can you do this?
Well, you can:
Take advantage of dynamic cloud integration to connect with your business applications.
Automate document workflows.
Use secured data and documents to speed retrieval, communication, and access management.
With printer technology today, you can do that and more as you drive productivity and support collaboration with your teams wherever they work.
Realizing these benefits and savings involves four key elements. Follow them and you’ll have a clear picture of –
what your requirements are,
how to ensure employee buy-in,
the best implementation plan for your organization, and
the one essential factor that ties your efforts together and positions you for success.
With a successful printer upgrade, you can build business agility and give yourself a competitive edge. All you need to do is follow these four key elements.
1. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
It can be tempting to see what technology can do and then build your goals for the upgrade around it. We recommend the opposite. Identify the areas of your business where automation would make the biggest impact and support growth.
Then, for each area you identify, build S.M.A.R.T. goals. (As a refresher, S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.) By establishing well-defined goals before you begin talking with potential vendors, you’ll control the conversation, increase the speed of the process by finding relevant solutions faster, and – perhaps most importantly – position yourself to find solutions that will deliver even bigger returns.
Here are some good areas to begin your evaluation and goal creation:
Remote access and productivity
Any obstacle that slows or stops the flow of information negatively impacts productivity. Remote access, for example, can be a big one. Remote workers, mobile employees, and travel can restrict access to documents and data. Workflows can also suffer when key movers are out of the office. If this issue sounds familiar, you’ll understand why a vendor who can help with automated workflows and even cloud document management will offer the best value.
Another productivity challenge can be printer access. Devices need to deliver functionality to meet every user’s needs and handle the print and scan volume. This can mean specific printer features such as booklet printing, scanning capabilities, mobile print support, secured print release, and more.
Security and compliance requirements
Are you in an industry with strict compliance requirements like HIPAA, PCI, or any of the numerous financial or legal regulations? If yes, then compliance may be a top requirement that defines your upgrade needs.
Yet, even if you don’t have compliance regulations, data and document security are still likely a high priority – especially in today’s highly connected digital workplace with so many remote workers.
But for all the security you need, your data must remain accessible. Employees must be able to find, retrieve, and share appropriate data and documents with relative ease. Standardized authentication codes, access keys, and remote password protection provide some of the most flexible and secured access.
Defining your compliance, security, and access needs early will help you with your product evaluation.
Perhaps one of the most difficult areas to set goals around is workflow automation. You may see manual, redundant tasks that, if eliminated, would free employees to engage in more productive, rewarding activities, but aren’t sure if solutions exist to help.
The best approach to address these potential areas for improvement is to prioritize tasks you’d like to automate. These questions can help you get started:
Which manual operations eat up valuable time?
Which document-based processes need streamlining?
Which financial controls (usage, waste, estimating) need tightening?
Which processes are exposing the greatest security risks?
Future goals and needs
The upgrade you do today needs to continue to meet your organization’s needs for years to come. It helps to know business plans and goals for the future. Here are some questions you might find can also help focus your goal setting on the subject:
Approximately how many new employees will need access to printing, scanning, and related cloud applications?
How are the needs for remote access likely to change over time?
What role will digital transformation play in changing my future print requirements?
What will happen tomorrow may not be carved in stone, but by having an idea, you can identify how much scalability and flexibility you need in your technology to always stay current.
2. Get Buy-in from Key Stakeholders
No matter how advanced and intelligent a device and its features are, you only benefit when your people use them. This makes stakeholder buy-in essential to a successful upgrade. It also means stakeholders must understand what their machines can do, be trained to use all of them, and embrace the new processes such as digital workflows and cloud-based document management.
Of course, end-users are not the only key stakeholders. You also need executive sponsorship and IT support. Here are a few ways to earn everyone’s approval:
Find out about departmental needs and interests
Sit with your department heads. Coordinate with them to meet with their teams too. Ask about their challenges and listen to their responses. The more problems you can solve to help them be more productive, the greater their buy-in will be.
Get the conversation started with questions like –
Have you had any issues with the printer? Are there any print functions that would make your job easier?
What processes still rely on moving paper? What would prevent us from making this a paperless process?
How do we store our files? How easy are they to retrieve?
How often do you have to retrieve and share a file for customer service? Sales?
How does our CRM (or your legacy system like an IBM iSeries) affect our workflow?
What would be your ideal workflow for [input one of the workflows described]?
During your conversation, you will want to explore the answers more deeply. These questions, however, can get you started. And today’s reality is, with so many cloud applications, new technologies, and intelligent devices, you can probably find a way to automate and create a digital workflow to address any challenge facing your teams.
Getting executive sponsorship
For executive buy-in, show value. A printer upgrade offers an organization a unique opportunity to streamline workflows and introduce more efficient, cost-effective processes. The value itself can come in the form of:
Profit and growth opportunities
Return on investment (ROI)
Improved customer service response
Empowered sales teams
Enabling employee productivity gets a lot of attention as a benefit, but we shouldn’t overlook security. Data loss can translate into significant penalties and legal troubles for any business. If a solution like a cloud-based document management system integrated with encrypted workflows can boost productivity and security, getting executive buy-in may be simpler than you expect.
Gaining IT support
Technology that integrates with your network and devices involves IT. With this in mind, get them involved from the start. Find out what they need to know about any of the printers, software, or other systems that can create value for your business.
There’s nothing worse than devising a solution your department and executives have embraced, only to have IT derail the effort by showing that your savings will be offset by their increased workload.
Fortunately, many intelligent devices simplify service with remote support and user-friendly self-help tools. Automated updates, preset alerts, and centralized reporting present other ways departments besides IT can help manage new automated workflows. Cloud applications also do some on-site infrastructure, making them IT-friendly.
By getting IT involved, or keeping them informed at a minimum, you’ll create a smooth path for your printer upgrade and maybe even discover new opportunities for enhanced workflows and automation.
Frequent communication plays a central role in a successful printer upgrade. The more everyone communicates, the better you manage expectations, ensure transparency, and speed the adoption of new business processes.
We’ve found the following practices can help support the transition and speed implementation.
Communicate goals and plans early and often
When you communicate the goal and plan for the upgrade process, you help people prepare for change. Getting people involved, for example, through stakeholder meetings not only declares the upcoming change, but it also gets them involved in the process. Communication also builds anticipation and enthusiasm for the benefits and features that will come with the change.
Making key stakeholders responsible for communication can help keep your teams engaged and on the lookout for specific milestones.
Create and maintain documentation
Process changes require documentation. New applications require instructions to be shared with users to ensure proper use and adoption. Intelligent devices often have intuitive panels but guides on common, basic tasks help speed proper use of even the simplest, new devices.
By creating and maintaining documentation, you’ll share vital knowledge and keep everyone informed throughout the transition. Building documentation around frequently asked questions (FAQs) can also prove a big time saver. FAQs can prove a valuable reference for everyone as it empowers them with answers to their questions, reducing team lead or vendor outreach on basic issues.
Clearly communicate timelines
Sudden change disrupts productivity. By providing advanced notice and frequent reminders, you help everyone plan their work around the upcoming change. Urgent issues can be addressed, and less urgent items can be queued up for testing through your new processes.
The phased rollout mentioned earlier can be a good way to remind everyone in a very direct way that change has come. Email, posted notices, and team meetings offer other effective means to remind and reassure everyone regarding the what, when, and how of the printer upgrade.
Finally, remember to thank everyone
Thanking everyone for their input, patience, effort, and cooperation helps foster positive feelings and attitudes despite the challenges that come with change.
Questions about an upcoming printer upgrade?
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