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Managed Services for Printing: A Step by Step Process

Ever wondered exactly what happens when a company decides to hire managed services for their printing environment? While many companies like the sound of a third-party specialist taking over the chore of printer maintenance, it’s not always obvious what these handy professionals actually do.

When an office hires a managed service, it outsources some or all of that infrastructure to third-party specialists. They may provide hardware, software, maintenance, or supplies all at a single flat rate or metered fee. With an MPS, a company can access more powerful print capabilities at a reduced cost. That’s a smart move for a company with a strict budget that also needs professional printing powers in their office.

Here’s a closer look at what happens when a company brings managed services on board. Read on to discover the steps in deploying an MPS, and how to prepare for this exciting transformation.

What Are the Steps in a Managed Print Service?

Once a company has decided to bring on board managed print services for an office, a team of experts will step in to guide them through the process of selecting and deploying the most appropriate printing technology. The exact process looks a little different for each company, but every process follows four basic steps. These four steps of an MPS program include:

1. An Initial Assessment

A good MPS provider conducts an initial assessment of the company’s current printing environment. This initial assessment helps the provider know exactly what the company already has, where its weak spots lie, what sort of printing goals or needs that a company is trying to meet and the level of technical proficiency of employees.

Since the print environment ties closely into the document management and related business processes, most good MPS providers will create a model of the company’s workflow processes. After all, managed printers are meant to improve office productivity.

2. The Planning Stage

When all information is gathered, the MPS team will turn to the planning stage. Smile specialists work with a company’s existing infrastructure, augmenting it with software or hardware as necessary to uncover practical solutions to refine the company’s print environment.

3. Deployment

After crafting a plan and getting the company’s approval, the MPS team will deploy its services in an office. This might include installing new software, replacing printers, reconfiguring devices, or physically moving them to support workflows.

4. Ongoing Review and Refinement

A managed print environment isn’t a set it and forget it endeavor. Once in place, Smile specialists will monitor and review the environment as employees ease into their new printing capabilities. If necessary, the MPS service will recommend changes, or provide support to help a company adjust.

What to Expect & How to Prepare

While the managed service provider will do all the heavy lifting, companies can help streamline the process by knowing what to expect and how to prepare for the process.

The Print Environment

An MPS will do an initial assessment of the print environment. This might include physical surveys, interviews, and a complete catalog of printing or document resources. A company can help prepare for this by creating an inventory of devices ahead of time with all the information they already have for each device.

Data Collection

Gaining a sense of print usage requires data collection. While an MPS technician will gather meter data from printers, a company can also provide records of purchases such as cartridges or paper. They might also want to provide a log of internal or outsourced maintenance, outsourced printing, or anything else which shows a company’s print usage.

New Equipment and Processes

After deployment, new equipment or processes may come into effect in an office. This can lead to frustration or reduced productivity as employees adjust to all of this new technology. Consider preparing for this by communicating with employees about the changes, arranging for training sessions and encouraging workers to share their feedback.

More than a Smile: What Makes Our Managed Services Different

Managed services are gaining steadily in popularity. At least 65 percent of businesses that participated in a survey by Quocirca reported using some form of managed services for their printing environment. Likewise, it seems that every day a new MPS provider has appeared, making it difficult to determine what the best option might be.

For the last 22 years, Smile has provided best-in-class managed services. Customers enjoy an MPS provider that differentiates itself through:

  • Loaner machines for extended maintenance. If something breaks, don’t sweat it. Smile technicians make sure the office has what it needs.
  • Free shipping for toner. Say goodbye to managing printer supplies. These managed services deliver supplies when necessary.
  • Managed IT and document management support. Printers are interconnected with other business processes, and Smile technicians are prepared to support those business processes, too.

Office printers play a critical role in the company’s overall success. Don’t leave this quintessential part of the business in the hands of an untested service provider. Enjoy managed service with a smile, from experts who know what they’re doing.

Smile is thrilled to help companies thrive by giving them the tools they need. Contact us today to start a conversation about your printing needs.

Artificial Intelligence in Document Management

Artificial Intelligence in Document Management

Documents are a critical aspect of any business. Keeping them organized while balancing accessibility with security has been a core concern for centuries. In the past twenty years, document management has expanded and refined its capabilities tremendously. Today, businesses leverage sophisticated tools like cloud services, artificial intelligence, and automation to achieve full operational efficiency with their documents.

Document management strategies are now common throughout the office world, but every office should also revisit their strategies periodically to ensure they’re taking advantage of the latest technology available. Among the newest technologies, artificial intelligence represents an especially exciting frontier in terms of security, accessibility, and efficiency. Read on to discover how artificial intelligence has shaped document management, and how companies can benefit from deploying it to manage their paperwork.

Document Management for the 21st Century

It’s 2019, and filing cabinets are rapidly on their way out of the building. Ugly, space-intensive, and prone to filing errors, tech-savvy businesses have recognized that the manual processes around physical filing simply won’t do.

The latest technology in document management brings the company’s critical information into the digital environment, delivering several advantages to businesses. These advantages include:

  • The ability to maintain operational efficiency. Digital technology applied to document management lets companies keep the processes efficient.
  • A competitive advantage in the market. Data-driven decision making is a crucial advantage to staying nimble and responsive to changing market conditions. Often, the company that succeeds is the one which can access and act upon its information first.
  • Increased integration and interoperability. Today’s businesses operate across a constellation of platforms and services. They need to be able to move data from one service to another without compromising its quality or accessibility elsewhere.

It’s not enough to simply have a document management solution. Like with other mission-critical parts of a business, it’s necessary to keep the technology involved in document management up to date.

Benefits of AI for Document Management

Artificial intelligence is reaching its maturity, bringing with it a whole host of new capabilities for the business world. Document management, in particular, benefits from the use of AI in several ways. These include:

1. Increased Security.

AI has all but transformed the field of cybersecurity and with it, data security. From 24/7 monitoring to biometric access techniques, AI helps companies achieve increased security in their document environment. Likewise, by learning patterns and normal traffic patterns, AI can accelerate the detection of problems or breaches before they have the chance to cause any damage. It’s already being used in this capacity by e-commerce companies to detect credit card fraud.

2. Improved Automation.

Automation helps streamline processes, but only if the precise processes to automate are identified first. In contrast, AI helps automate processes by identifying those instances on its own. For example, AI can “read” documents then decide which processes or people to send them to based on the content. In this capacity, AI is known as robotic process automation, and it’s rapidly changing the way businesses think about process optimization.

3. Deeper Analytics.

Technology, like optical character recognition, has been around for a while, but AI takes it to a new level. In addition to being able to spot specific keywords or phrases, AI can identify patterns, create new classification levels on its own, and more readily spot the data critical to driving analytics.

4. Better Classification and Processing.

In a modern business, data moves quickly – misclassified documents mean it might get missed entirely. For a data-driven environment, that can result in costly miscalculations. AI corrects and prevents this problem. By following a base set of rules, AI can learn when new classifications should be created to help keep data organized. The result is a more nimble and flexible data architecture which keeps documents organized, accessible, and streamlined even as they’re archived.

5. Reduced Overhead Costs.

AI delivers all of the advantages of having an extra employee in the office sorting files – with the benefit of never needing to eat or sleep. Leveraging AI for repetitive, laborious tasks helps employees stay focused on higher-level work while ensuring that these critical tasks still get done.

AI for Document Management: Step into the Future with a Smile

Artificial intelligence represents an exciting frontier for many parts of the business world, especially document management software. As this technology makes its way into the office workflow, it will become an increasingly critical element to remain competitive and keep overhead costs low. AI is a powerful tool, and one which offices can – and should – put to work.

Smile helps companies achieve operational efficiency through the deployment of modern technology. Start a conversation with us today to learn about what AI can do for you.

Reduced Budget? It’s Time to Control Your Printing Costs

Reduced Budget? It’s Time to Control Your Printing Costs

Budget reductions mean tough decisions for small and large businesses. For companies or departments that are handed a new (and smaller) annual budget, the next step is carefully examining all aspects of operations for any waste or inefficiency. There’s one area that pops up almost every time: the business print environment.

Printing represents one of the most common areas of waste for businesses – and it costs a lot of money. When faced with budget reductions, companies can no longer afford to have unchecked and out-of-control printing processes. This major pain point for businesses is why companies are increasingly turning to Managed Print Services (MPS). Here’s how these solutions cut the fat in a print environment and help businesses made the best of a reduced budget.

How do Managed Print Services and Document Management Solutions Save Money?

The push-back is common: why would a business spend money on MPS solutions in the wake of budget cuts? Spending any new monies during a time of cutting as many costs as possible seems counter-intuitive. In reality, effective management of a document and print environment simplifies and consolidates dozens of processes – which saves companies up to 30% on printing costs by:

  • Managing print devices: Decrease unnecessary IT calls for printer downtime, print driver issues, and maintenance.
  • Controlling supply spending: Purchase the right consumable print supplies at competitive industry pricing – and never run out of toner again.
  • Establishing better document processes: Improve document access and security while eliminating unnecessary printing and resource consumption.

For most businesses, a brief budget audit will show that consolidating the costs from these operations into a single, streamlined process will deliver powerful returns. Organizations can see how much they’re actively saving anytime with a MPS provider through simple online printing service management tools and dashboards.

Stop Overspending on Toner and Printer Ink

Several years ago, the Gartner Group published findings from a large research study demonstrating that businesses spend up to 3% of revenue on printing. Not surprisingly, a large portion of this spending is from toner and printer ink. Still, companies are rightly wary of cutting costs by turning to cheap third-party inks, which have a very inconsistent track record for quality. While some third-party inks are competitive to brand names, others can wreck printheads and lead to low-quality output.

MPS solutions present businesses with another option. Remanufactured cartridges offer all the same reliable benefits as brand name cartridges, but at a fraction of the cost. To be considered a “remanufactured” cartridge, a used cartridge undergoes a process of chemically cleaning and drying, refilling, sealing, and testing against the same standards as the original brand-name products themselves. Not only can MPS providers offer businesses remanufactured print cartridges, but can provide even more savings through competitive pricing on these products.

Budget Cuts Happen in Any Industry – Smile Has the Solutions

Budget cuts can happen anywhere – and print needs will vary significantly between organizations. These needs aren’t just dictated by structure, but also by compliance rules and federal and state-level regulations. At Smile, we have dedicated teams with expertise in these regulations to help organizations facing budget downsizing maintain compliance and save money.

1. Government Agencies

Security is the cornerstone of effective document management in federal and state-level agencies. When budget cuts happen, these organizations cannot compromise on security — but it’s not enough that documents are protected if the right users cannot readily access them. Smile’s exclusive solutions balance the highest levels of document security against ensuring that the appropriate users have access when and when they need it.

2. Health Care Facilities

Managed Print Services are very useful in documentation-heavy industries such as health care for eliminating waste and cutting costs in the event of budget cuts. However, for these organizations, choosing an inexperienced MPS provider can lead to catastrophic results. HIPAA-compliant document management software and processes are essential to maintaining compliance with federal protections for health-related information. In the print-environment, this means selecting hardware such as MFPs with encrypted, removable hard disks to avoid breaches of healthcare data that may be saved on a printer.

3. Educational Institutions

Schools have unique and variable needs in a print environment – and almost always, tight budgets. Universities might need a keycard-release system to charge users to print from a library MFP, K-12 institutions may need a complex rule-based system for color vs. grayscale printing, and students may need to access cloud-based documents in classrooms or groups. Smile meets the needs of these schools through customized solutions for each client.

Budget cuts don’t mean businesses have to sacrifice the quality or security of their document management and print environments. MPS solutions represent an effective way to reduce the cost of printing while streamlining and improving print processes across an entire organization.

Ready to see how much your business can save with Smile’s Managed Print Services? Contact us today and discover how a simplified, streamlined, and secure print environment can meet your budget needs.

Benefits of Document Management for Digital Growth

 

Benefits of Document Management for Digital Growth

A simple change to the way you manage your documents can offer your organization a competitive edge in your industry. Efficient document management encourages growth – especially in the digital realm.

Traditional document management systems involve complex steps for the capture, indexing, storage, and communication of documents and the data they contain. These processes consume time and introduce the possibility of human error into the document lifecycle.

As organizations deal with ever-increasing amounts of data, the document lifecycle becomes more complex. The opportunity cost of manual document management and the retroactive correction of data entry errors start to drag down overall productivity.

Document management represents a long-term investment in your employees’ ability to deliver relevant content to business workflow applications. Enterprise document management combines both a strategic framework and a technical architecture to increase the efficiency of collaborative processes.

Additional benefits of document management include remote access capability and increased data security. All of these factors contribute to digital growth.

Benefits of Document Management by Core Functionalities

Document management is not a one-dimensional solution to a single business problem. It is a multi-faceted suite of solutions that generates synergies between different core processes.

1. Document Capture

The first step of the document lifecycle is receipt and capture. In traditional business environments, documents arrive in paper format, are scanned into a central database, and then further processed on paper. Updated versions of the document make their way to the database as employees process and create them.

This relies heavily on accurate data entry, and makes inefficient use of company resources, particularly print resources. One of the primary benefits of document management is the ability to capture documents once – using optical character recognition (OCR) to skip time-consuming data entry – and then migrate processing transactions to the digital domain.

2. Document Indexing

Effective records management is critical to ensuring legal and regulatory compliance in any industry. Whether your business needs to accommodate industry-specific compliance standards or general standards such as ISO 15489, you need a robust document management platform in place to streamline the process.

Enterprise document management platforms allow for automatic indexing. This allows employees to find documents using a broad range of metadata and tags. OCR technology allows for the creation of automatic indexes generated by a potentially unlimited number of terms with minimal human intervention.

3. Document Storage

Every organization in operation today needs to take great care when selecting the file format it chooses for document storage. Whether storing documents on a cloud-based server or an on-premises one, the portability and compatibility of document formats are critical.

Professional document management platforms address these issues by allowing for automatic conversion between popular file types. TIFF files that contain high-resolution images of original documents can easily be converted to JPEG files for quick transfer, or PDF for visual clarity and text-editability.

4. Enhanced Accessibility and Security

Today’s knowledge workers are increasingly relying on mobile technology to send and receive the data they need on a daily basis. The ability to access documents through a cloud-based document management server can result in significant reduction in the average time it takes to process documents.

But alongside improvements in accessibility must come improvements in security. Document management platforms allow for advanced authorization mechanisms, including authentication and systems administrator oversight.

Why Organizations Are Deploying Document Management Platforms

Implementing a document management solution now is a decision that generates long-term value throughout the entire organization. While platforms of this type have been on the market for years, recent technological and infrastructural advances in IT make a case for growth in this field.

In fact, AmeriResearch predicts that the value of the global document management market will grow sevenfold by 2024, reaching $49 billion in global revenue. Cost of ownership is dropping while companies experience an increasing need to comply with digital document regulation and to achieve streamlined end-point access that these solutions provide.

But it is necessary to make a key distinction between professional document management platforms that are powerful and easy to use and those that are not. If a platform does not encourage everyday employees to use it, they will find reasons to avoid it, undermining its efficiency. To truly enjoy the benefits of document management, your company must deploy one designed for ease of use.

Are you ready to deploy a document management solution that will streamline your business processes? Talk to a Smile specialist about document management solutions you can implement today!