A multifunction printer (MFP) consolidates the functions of a printer, scanner, copier, and, sometimes, fax – all into one machine.
They are a popular choice for small businesses who are looking to minimize the cost of procuring and maintaining these devices separately. Of course, some organizations will choose to subscribe to a cloud-based fax service instead.
10 Factors to Consider When Buying a Fax-Ready Multifunction Printer
There are numerous MFP models available on the market and not all have fax functionality.
Still, if you are looking for an MFP that includes fax, there are a number of factors you need to take into consideration before making your purchase decision.
1. Define Your Requirements
If you are shopping for an MFP, there is likely a business need you are aiming to meet.
Define your requirements for your MFP. What are your organization’s and users’ expectations?
Beyond faxing, how do you want the MFP to streamline document management, simplify workflows and reduce paper?
How many fax, print, copy, scan and email jobs do you expect to run per day? How many people will be using the MFP?
Do you want it to be cloud-enabled for ease of document uploading?
2. Understand the Cost/Value Benefits
When procuring an MFP, do not be fixated on the purchase price alone. There are many other expenses to factor in the short, medium, and long-term.
Think about the cost of supplies, for instance. When ink costs are included, inkjet MFPs that initially seem less expensive may cost you more over time compared to the high-performing laser MFPs.
The total cost of ownership (TCO) may rise substantially for MFPs that are unreliable, difficult to use, costly to maintain, or lack the features you need. Think about how the MFP you choose will fare over its lifetime in faxing, printing, copying, and scanning costs.
3. Check Out User Reviews and Independent Expert Evaluation
It is one thing to read what the MFP’s vendor says about the device’s performance, but it is another thing entirely to hear the verdict of past and current users, as well as independent experts.
User reviews and expert assessments provide a barometer of whether stated performance levels are equal to actual performance.
Check if there are any issues raised by users and experts and whether the manufacturer has acknowledged and resolved them.
By all means, stay away from any MFP whose user reviews are overwhelmingly negative. It is unlikely that such a large proportion of customers could be wrong.
4. Ease of Plugging Into Your Network
Find out how easily the MFP will integrate with your organization’s network.
Does the MFP come with guides or software wizards that someone with low or average tech knowledge can follow? Is the system easy to install, troubleshoot and upgrade?
As a small business, you want to avoid any device that requires a high level of expertise to install and integrate.
A complicated MFP might compel you to engage the services of an IT contractor, a cost that only serves to eat away at your precious profit margins.
5. Ease of Use
Unless you are running a tech company, chances are that the overwhelming majority of employees who operate the MFP will have a low to intermediate level of tech knowledge.
What’s more, is that fax is a technology that is unfamiliar to many millennials and GenZers – generations that very well constitute the largest demographic in your staff. So, ease of use should be one of the primary considerations when procuring an MFP.
Choose an MFP that helps you hit the ground running with minimal difficulty as soon as it is installed. Check for an online knowledge base, intuitive interfaces, minimal training requirements, and accessible support.
An MFP with a tablet-like interactive interface is likely to be easily accepted by users since it mirrors the smartphone and tablet screens they are already accustomed to.
6. Multitasking Capabilities
Just because the printer is deemed multifunctional does not mean it can discharge all of its diverse functions concurrently.
When you are shopping for an MFP, find out whether you can send or receive a fax while the other functions such as printing or copying are running.
Some MFPs are designed to do only one thing at a time. That would not only inhibit your ability to send or receive urgent fax but also creates a bottleneck that increases the risk of downtime. Opt for an MFP that has true multitasking capabilities.
7. Bi-Directional Communication
An MFP should communicate accurate and timely information to administrators and users on the status of devices, jobs, and queues. Robust bi-directional communication is central to having an MFP with fax capability, running consistently.
Look for the ability to view statuses both on the device screen and remotely via the cloud or on the company’s network. That will reduce the amount of physical movement and intervention required to anticipate, prevent or solve problems.
8. Vendor Commitment
Does the vendor offer superior quality of service and consistent response times? What depth of commitment do they demonstrate in providing robust fleet and device management tools, utilities, and support?
Even if you consider the installation and use of the MFP relatively straightforward, you may need after-sale help in the future.
With the right vendor-provided tools, your MFP can become a document management hub that facilitates business process automation and remote device management.
Even better is if the MFP is complemented by a mobile app that creates new opportunities for leveraging the power of your smartphone when faxing. Mobile apps can place workflows and other functions into an easy and friendly interface.
9. Complementary Software
Find out what complimentary software and solutions are available from the MFP’s vendor and their solution partners.
MFPs can be a valuable tool for small businesses keen on streamlining cumbersome and duplicate document processes. They can help in the organization, editing, and archiving of your paper documents.
For instance, an MFP combined with the right software can convert your paper documents into electronic format and transmit them to various storage or processing destinations. These could be network folders, email, cloud-based repositories, or back-office automation systems.
Its multiple functions are both the MFP’s greatest asset as well as its greatest liability.
By bringing together fax, printing, scanning, and copying functions, also consolidate the security vulnerabilities inherent to each of these capabilities. Left unchecked, MFPs can be an entry point for cyberattacks and data leaks.
That said, the vulnerability of MFPs varies depending on the vendor and model. The best approach to securing your device and network is to choose an MFP whose security protocols and controls exceed industry standards on data encryption, intrusion prevention, and device detection.
Make the Right Choice
Once you assess your shortlist of fax-ready MFPs against these factors, you will have the information you need to make the right purchase decision.