To be successful, today’s public-sector offices need reliable information technology (IT) equipment. From satellite municipal offices with minimal staff to federal offices with hundreds of users, the key to an efficient, streamlined system lies in the nature of the tools they use.
Adding to the challenge of acquiring the right products are the issues of confidentiality, security, storage and integration. For instance, as government offices are increasingly tasked with functioning on finite resources, the public continues to demand assurances that their personal information is protected. Those tasked with procurement decisions require information that will allow them to make the best choices for their stakeholders— Canadian citizens.
Recent statistics from Evans Research—a Canadian provider of market research and information services related to IT—indicate colour laser printers and laser multifunctional printers (MFPs) are expected to account for nearly seven per cent of the overall printer market by 2008. In 2004, on the other hand, these two technologies accounted for only four per cent of shipments.
Clearly, the move towards faster, more efficient and cost-effective printing is shared by not only the public sector, but also the general public. However, the myriad products available to both government organizations and consumers present a dizzying assortment of options, often making purchasing decisions difficult.
Document Management The Right Printer for the Job By Bob Park To be successful, today s public-sector offices need reliable information technology (IT) equipment. From satellite municipal offices with minimal staff to federal offices with hundreds of users, the key to an efficient, streamlined system lies in the nature of the tools they use. Adding to the challenge of acquiring the right products are the issues of confidentiality, security, storage and integration. For instance, as government offices are increasingly tasked with functioning on finite resources, the public continues to demand assurances that their personal information is protected. Those tasked with procurement decisions require information that will allow them to make the best choices for their stakeholders Canadian citizens. Recent statistics from Evans Research a Canadian provider of market research and information services related to IT indicate colour laser printers and laser multi-functional printers (MFPs) are expected to account for nearly seven per cent of the overall printer market by 2008. In 2004, on the other hand, these two technologies accounted for only four per cent of shipments. Clearly, the move towards faster, more efficient and cost-effective printing is shared by not only the public sector, but also the general public. However, the myriad products available to both government organizations and consumers present a dizzying assortment of options, often making purchasing decisions difficult. Recent technological advances in computer peripherals have added to the variety of choices faced by purchasers, so the printer market now offers a range of products from simple to sophisticated. Finding the right device is possible, but the purchasing decision can only be made once specific operating needs and requirements are clear. Printer capabilities that would serve a small workgroup environment, for example, would not be the same as those geared toward multiple users in a larger organization. Similarly, the advanced functions required in a complex and busy government setting could be wasted on a satellite office of five people or less. The most efficient purchases are made when operating needs are considered. With that in mind, the following are some of the factors to consider when purchasing an office printer. Speed Regardless of workgroup size, speed is always an asset in printing. In a public-sector office, the need for fast, efficient service is never more keenly felt than when documents Untitled Documentare immediately required for citizen interaction. Internal deadlines and pressures add to the requirement for a printer that delivers quickly. The speed of a printer should directly relate to the needs of the particular workgroup. Thus, before deciding upon a specific model, organizations should consider the following questions: How often will multiple-page documents be required? If, for example, there will be an ongoing need to print documents of 50 or more pages, then a device with higher-speed capabilities will be needed to avert long lines of co-workers huddling around the printer as they wait for their items. How many people will be using the printer? As a general rule, the more users associated with a particular unit, the faster the speed requirement. In an office setting with workgroups of more than 10 people, it would be best to look for a printer that can produce at least 30 pages per minute (ppm). This may alleviate the need for multiple printers, allowing for greater cost efficiency. For smaller workgroups, such as those found in branch offices, investment in a single-pass colour laser printer with 20-ppm capability would be more appropriate. Memory Until recently, most standard printers included only very limited hard disk and memory capabilities. Anything within the range of 8 to 144 MB, depending on the size of the device, would be considered normal. While this trend offered a fair range of information storage for a smaller workgroup setting, the limited capacity would hamper productivity in a larger public-sector office. In a scenario involving growth in both user traffic and stored print jobs, it is imperative to use a printing unit that offers both reliability and storage capacity. Larger print jobs are to be expected, for example, in a municipal licensing facility or a provincial land registry office, given the basis of most types of public requests. In light of these scenarios, public procurement officials may be wise to choose a printer that not only provides high maximum memory capability, but also allows more storage capacity to be added in the future, as required. Accordingly, some office printers now provide an expansion slot that allows memory capacity to be upgraded, to a maximum of 40 GB. This significant feature enables a greater range of services for the user, such as job retention or forms overlay features. Without the ability to store critical information for later printing, the efficiency of an office can be compromised. Wait times for information will increase, resulting in longer lines and frustrated colleagues. Recent technological advances in the field of printer manufacturing have resulted in hard disk systems that can support a more smoothly run office environment than before. Job retention functionality is supported by an expandable hard drive that allows the user to Untitled Documentstore and hold print jobs. And with a delayed print feature, the user enters a date and time for when a particular document should be printed. The benefit of this feature is the option to print at non-peak times, reducing the potential for print jobs to be mixed up with one another. Also, the most sensitive documentation can be retrieved from the printer when the office has less traffic. Security and confidentiality Indeed, security and confidentiality are of paramount importance to the public sector. Facing the threats of stolen identities, fraud and even terrorism, guardians of sensitive information are obliged to safeguard the public trust. Today, more than ever before, citizens are demanding their personal information be processed in a secure and fail-safe manner. In government offices where most compiled information includes personal and sensitive details, it is imperative the information remains confidential, from passports and birth certificates to drivers licences and health cards. Just as new rules have been instituted with respect to the content of e-mail and computer files, so too must these rules apply to peripheral output. That is, a printed e-mail message or file must be treated with equal confidentiality. Confidentiality is expected by the public and no exception to this mandate will be accepted. In a conventional printing scenario, however, this mandate tends to prove problematic, as sending an item to print creates the risk of another recipient viewing the output. There are now numerous security options available to circumvent this possibility, ranging from the simple to the advanced. For example, certain printers will allow users to store print jobs on a hard disk, only to be released after the entry of a unique four-digit personal identification number (PIN). A more advanced option is the ability to store information from a personal computer (PC) in either a public or private folder. Such features can give the user greater control over output documents and reduce the possibility of a security breach. Integration In larger offices, recent advances in organization-wide applications have provided another avenue to cost savings. Some government offices are now using enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications as a basis for streamlining operations and improving efficiency. From customer relationship management (CRM) software to business applications, public-sector offices are increasingly embracing database technology. Untitled DocumentTo maximize efficiency and achieve a lower total cost of ownership (TCO), offices are advised to choose methods that integrate both hardware and software components. To this end, some printers now use technology that integrates directly with an ERP system. The benefit of such a feature is automatic data collection being conducted in a more efficient manner, allowing for lower associated costs and increased service capabilities. On a day-to-day basis, this feature would be of use to offices that house large workgroups and process high volumes of citizen-based information for example, in asset tracking, file folder labelling and quick retrieval of filed information. Cost-effectiveness Accountability is a key priority today in the public sector, as government spending has incurred greater scrutiny from the media and the public. From municipal to federal offices, procurement officials are compelled to review their office budget requirements to make the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Computers and peripherals, including printers, must all provide the best value for the money spent. To this end, cost-effective features designed to maximize value should be considered. Recent printer models offer a toner save function. In some cases, this option can single-handedly save up to 40 per cent of toner. This is a significant advantage when compared with average printer use in a mid-sized public-sector establishment. And in offices where printed output is consistently very high, if there is no consideration given to the cost of toner, monthly dollar expenditures could easily top the thousands. The same is true of paper output. Despite living in an electronic age, many office workers print e-mail, presentations and other documents, for reasons ranging from proofreading to personal reminders. One mitigating printer option is two-sided sheet output. By choosing the right printers, public sector offices can realize greater efficiency and cost savings. In addition, by exploiting recent technological advancements, they can better adhere to legislated confidentiality requirements. After assessing office needs and researching various options, they can use the right printer to support a more streamlined office environment and a lower TCO. Bob Park is IT marketing manager for Samsung Electronics Canada. For more information, visit www.samsung.ca.