Manage documents with ease

Everyday faxing, printing and copying may not be the most exciting tasks. But with the right tools and processes, you can reduce the time they take.
Written by Cheong Chee Keong, Contributor

How much work time do you spend each day on routine tasks such as printing and faxing? Do you want your staff to be doing other things that make your business more successful?

SMBs would do well to streamline workflow in order to get more work done, in shorter time and with less effort. However, for many small businesses, technology purchases are often based on immediate need rather than an organized plan. For instance, when you need a printer, you buy it, put it on a desk, and connect it to a PC. The same applies for the copy machine, fax machine, scanner and data storage.

If mundane jobs are easier and quicker to complete, you will be more likely to do them.
Often, you end up with an environment where the tools you depend on to get things done end up in distant corners of the workplace.

Focus on the tasks
Companies should thus minimize the time and labor that employees spend on activities such as copying, scanning, faxing, or printing, by combining business devices into a task center. This ensures that staff has more time to devote to the business. Here are the benefits:

  1. Save time
    Streamlining workflow with a task center can drastically reduce the time needed to complete routine business activities because it frees you up to spend more time on what makes your business successful. The fewer steps required to accomplish a task, the more productive you are.

  2. Save effort
    If mundane jobs are easier and quicker to complete, you will be more likely to do them. For instance, you're more likely to back up data to protect it from loss if it's a simple and fast process.

  3. Save money
    In addition to the cost savings from reduced time and effort, a task center saves you money by consolidating devices. Rather than purchasing, setting up, and maintaining a separate printer, copier, fax machine, and scanner, you can use a single all-in-one (AIO) device to perform those functions. This also lets you eliminate the supplies, service, setup time, maintenance, and space that single-function machines require.
Match the solution to the need
Every business is different. Carefully examine your workflow and identify the tasks and tools that can be centralized.

The various machines around the workplace will get the job done, but with everything unconnected and spread out, a simple proposition can be a labor-intensive, time-consuming process.

HP LaserJet 3015 All-in-One
The HP LaserJet 3015 All-in-One combines a fax modem, scanner, copier and laser printer.
An all-in-one machine is an ideal solution for workplaces with an ever-changing mix of workday activities. However, many businesses find their work entails rather heavy use of one or two functions. An accounting firm, for instance, may need to do massive amounts of copying, while a graphic design shop might constantly print out materials.

Those businesses with particularly heavy faxing, copying, printing or scanning needs should consider adding a dedicated stand-alone machine to their task center. In an office that does lots of copying, a dedicated copier could handle the large copy jobs leaving the all-in-one free to handle other tasks--including other copying.

Once you've figured out the workday activities that take more effort than necessary, select the proper mix of task center tools that meet your business needs, budget, and environment, and set them up in a well-considered location.

All-in-one machines
A key component of a small-business task center is the all-in-one device. It has the benefit of having a space-saving design--all at a fraction of the price of the stand-alone devices. In addition, a task center built around an All-in-one can be enhanced to include additional features like e-mail, data storage, digital image editing and device sharing over a network.

One of the more recent technologies introduced to in all-in-one is the digital sending capability, one of HP’s document management offerings for SMBs. Digital sending enables users to send hardcopy documents directly from the all-in-one via e-mail, converting them into digital files at the touch of a button. Besides the fast document sharing, the Embedded Web Server allows managers to keep track of printer usage, order supplies remotely and control access by authenticating individual users or departments.

A few extra steps may seem negligible. But multiply that by a few workers, a few times a day, and we're talking cost affecting your bottom line. Therefore, setting up a task center and locating it in the most accessible and central area possible is an effective way to manage costs better while ensuring higher staff productivity.

Cheong Chee Keong is business unit manager for the Imaging & Printing Group, Asia Pacific/Japan, Hewlett-Packard Far East Asia.

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