Man standing at desk with MFP printer

The foundation of an MFP is copy, print and scan

by ​Brian Wallace

Scanning has dramatically changed how people in small and medium businesses use MFPs.

In fact, the evolution of the product category from being known as a “multi-function printer” to a “multi-function device” underlines just how much their usage has evolved. No longer is the output consistently the predominant feature of the device. In some industries, the input is the key focus, and users do much more scanning and only minimal printing and copying. Scanning is also very important in small medical facilities for patient records, accounts payable for invoices, and human resources for employee records. Whether your business is in one of these areas or in a completely different segment, you’re likely familiar with opportunities and challenges that scanning can bring you.

Like the famous TED talk, we as consultants “start with why” when talking to our customers about their scanning and MFP needs.[1] Questions like the following should be discussed with your vendor partner, and form the foundation for determining the right solution for your business, from hardware, to software, to services.

  • Why do you need to scan: If you’re scanning for compliance versus collaboration, your needs will be very different. Image quality, connectivity, security and workflow functionality should be top of mind.

  • What are you going to do with it: Are the documents you’re scanning going to be edited? If so, an OCR solution that converts the scanned image to a document will need to be part of your consideration.

​The cloud isn’t just a buzz word. It’s often a cost-effective and efficient alternative to local storage.

  • Where are you going to store it: The cloud isn’t just a buzz word. It’s often a cost-effective and efficient alternative to local storage. Many of today’s MFPs are “smart” and link directly to the cloud.

  • How are you going to find it: Many SMBs have experienced all too often the phenomenon of scanning into a proverbial “black hole.” Having a simple, but effective means of indexing and filing in place can help you find your scans quicker, and do business faster.

  • Who needs to access it: Two or twenty people? Three departments? Four clients? Your external accountant? A regulatory agency? Sharing is often the impetus for scanning a hard document into an electronic version, so finding a streamlined way to disseminate your information with as little friction as possible can make or break your scanning process.

The bottom line?

The function of scanning becomes less functional when it’s not being done in a way that’s intuitive and easily accessible, which is why a multifaceted solution that incorporates the right software and services at the right price point for your business is essential.

Like technologies before it, from the telegraph to carrier pigeon, scanning is a way of making information mobile, useable and actionable – but the process (if not implemented correctly) can sometimes stand in the way of the end goal.

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Brian is an accomplished sales and marketing professional with more than 15 years of experience in the office equipment and document services industry, 11 of which have been with Ricoh. Prior to joining the marketing division, Wallace was a District Managing Consultant in the Ricoh Consulting Group. In that role, he crafted innovative solutions and strategic roadmaps for integrating technology and addressing inefficient business processes for our customers. This experience has given him a unique insight into the challenges and needs of both SMB customers and global accounts.

Brian Wallace

Senior Manager, Channel Marketing

Ricoh USA

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  1. 1. Simon Sinek, "How great leaders inspire action." Ted Talks, September 2009.