One of the easiest ways to save money is to buy less equipment and still get the same amount of work done. It’s not hard to do and the easiest place to start is with a multifunction printer. In any office there are computers, printers, copiers and fax machines. Depending on the size of the office, any one of these machines is sitting idle 80 - 90% of the time, waiting for someone to use them.
What are Multifunction Printers (MFP)?
Multifunction printers take several office machines and combine them into one piece of equipment that can perform all the tasks of the individual pieces. Most commonly, they combine the functions of a PC printer, photocopier, scanner and fax machine. Respectable machines that are able to take the rigor of an office environment range from $150 to $700.
Define Your NeedsBefore you run out and buy just any MFP (or worse: the cheapest!), it would be wise for you to define the criteria that you need to run your business. The following list is the top five features that you should consider before you buy; each one has the potential to add to the cost of the machine.
- Ink vs. laser technology is the top factor for adding to the price. Laser technology works the same way that a photocopier works and will give you a better quality, longer lasting output. MFPs that use ink technology are cheaper to buy initially (and you get color), but usually are more expensive per page printed.
- Color or black and white may be the most difficult tradeoff you will have to make. Of course color output always looks better, but ask yourself if you really need it. If you are only using the machine for internal documents, black and white should do just fine. If you will produce documents that will be leaving the office--for example, sales proposals for prospective customers--color may be a necessity.
- Speed and quantity are two factors that can save you money or cost you money. If you underestimate the volume of work the MFP is going to do and you buy a low end machine, it may break and constantly need service. In addition, if you buy a cheaper ink base MFP, you may be burning through $25 ink cartridges at a very fast rate instead of buying a $150 toner cartridge that will last several months.
- Auto sheet feeders are nice to have if you will be using them. If you do not photocopy or fax lengthy documents, this feature could be a waste of your money.
- Email capability gives you the ability to run a document through the MFP and instantly send it to an email recipient. Unless this is a constant operation in your office, the time and complexity to interface this to your email system may not be worth your time and expense.