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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.

Reshaping a Business With Digital Transformation in 2020

Reshaping a Business With Digital Transformation in 2020

The topic of digital transformation has swept through the business world for years, finally emerging as a mainstream and essential strategy for business survival in the 21st century. In 2019, at least 30 percent of all companies are actively planning for undertaking a digital transformation. That number is expected to grow.

The digital environment for most customers constitutes one of the primary drivers of digital transformation. As such, companies which are not emphasizing a transition to digital processes now risk their ability to compete in their industry and remain relevant to their customers.

However, digital transformation is a tremendous undertaking, even for the most forward-thinking and best-prepared business. Read on to learn more about what digital transformation is, why it matters, and how to succeed in one.

What is a Digital Transformation and Why Do Businesses Need It?

According to industry experts, digital transformation is the application of modern technology to traditional business processes and challenges. It’s more than simply the transition to digital tools, although that tends to play a big part. At its core, digital transformation changes the way companies do business and engage with their customers.

There is no one route to digital maturity for any specific company. Each organization may take an entirely unique approach because each business tends to have unique processes which they’ve developed over time. However, all digital transformations have a few underlying themes in common. In a nutshell, these include:

    • An emphasis on the customer journey: Digital transformation is often described in terms of refining the customer experience. This entails new tools such as website features which streamline transactions, or infrastructure which makes it easier for customers to reach the correct personnel.
    • A review of legacy processes: A legacy process is a way of doing things which has existed since the beginning. Often, they involve dated technology or ways of thinking with which employees are quite comfortable. Legacy processes embrace the “if it isn’t broken…” mentality which may stand in the way of digital transformation.
  • A shift away from manual systems: Automation, AI and cloud computing often comprise a significant part of digital transformation strategies as each of these technologies yield the ability to produce faster processes with better security and fewer errors. Businesses need digital transformation because it is the only way to remain relevant in the face of changing technology. With 2020 heralding the wholesale rollout of new technology such as 5G, businesses cannot afford to remain trapped in the 20th century.

 

  • Digital transformation doesn’t necessarily mean replacing everything in the office with the latest piece of technology. Rather, it means laying a groundwork which improves the company’s flexibility and ability to respond to changing conditions.

The Benefits of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation delivers numerous benefits to companies. These benefits include:

  • Improved efficiency and flexibility: Companies can streamline their workflow processes to optimize their output.
  • Improved customer service: Digital tools help employees work with and solve problems for customers faster, more efficiently, and more creatively.
  • Improved security: From business continuity and disaster recovery to turning a digital environment into a cyber fortress, digital transformation makes a company more secure.
  • Employee empowerment: Help employees feel empowered by giving them the tools they need to succeed.
  • Data-driven decision making: Make better business decisions born from increased access to critical data and knowledge.

How to Support a Successful Transition

Introducing new technology and training employees to use it is not enough. MIT’s review on digital transformation strategies in business highlight several features which successfully transformed companies exhibit. To support a successful transformation to a digital environment:

1. Improve Company-Wide Communication

MIT identifies employee apprehension as one of the largest inhibitors of successful digital transformation. The antidote, however, is communication. When CEOs openly discuss their plans for digital transformation and create space for employee questions, MIT found that 93 percent of employees supported the endeavor.

2. Have a Plan

Develop a plan for digital transformation, including how and when new processes are implemented. This allows the company to think about the process from start to finish, see exactly how all of the pieces fit together, and gain a sense of the timeline required for digital transformation.

3. Begin With an Assessment of Current Processes

Since digital transformation targets business processes, begin with an assessment of the current processes that exist. Bringing on board a managed services provider can help dramatically with this because they’re trained to analyze processes. An assessment will help spot opportunities for improvement, previously unseen bottlenecks and places where the right technology is already in place.

Anticipate 2020 and Digital Transformation With a Smile

Digital transformation is far more than just a trendy buzzword. It’s a necessity for business survival. As the world rushes towards an ever more digital reality, businesses must keep pace to remain viable.

Has digital transformation been on the company’s mind? Now’s the time to start planning.

Smile helps companies optimize their business processes with the right services and products. Contact us today to discuss digital transformation for your organization.

5 Wasteful Habits That Can Cost You & How Managed Services Help

5 Wasteful Habits That Can Cost You & How Managed Services Help

Printing is as natural to offices as breathing is to people. In fact, it’s so automatic that many offices don’t even take note of it. However, the IDC estimates that printing expenses constitute an average of 3 to 5 percent of a company’s annual revenue. That’s a huge slice – and it’s largely the result of bloat, as companies which deploy managed services often quickly discover.

The dynamic, complex nature of an office printing environment presents many excellent opportunities for wasteful habits to form which drive up expenses and reduce efficiency. Here are five wasteful habits common in office printing environments which contribute to increased expenses. Recognize any? It might be time to leverage managed services to eliminate them.

5 Wasteful Habits That Managed Services Eliminate

Managed printing services involve the outsourcing of a company’s printers and printer management to a third-party specialist. Managed document services do the same thing for a company’s document processes. These professionals are specially trained in creating a streamlined print and document environment, which drives productivity to new heights. Consider enlisting the help of a managed service specialist if any of the following features are wasting company time and money.

1. Unnecessary Printing

At one point, everyone believed that the rise of the internet and digital tools for doing business would eliminate paper in the office. In reality, the exact opposite has happened. An interview with the vice president of Gartner explored the causes of this. He hypothesizes that printing has increased because there’s so much content available online – and reading on paper remains a familiar, easy way to digest information.

As a result, according to Gartner, the average employee prints about 400 pages per month. The EPA estimates that at least 17 percent of that will end up in the waste bin immediately, while only about 64 percent of it will get recycled.

Managed services eliminate unnecessary printing, one of the biggest contributors of waste in an office. By ensuring that only the necessary documents get printed, managed services help companies save paper, cartridges, time, and electricity for the business activities which truly matter.

2. Free-for-All Supplies

Are the company’s printing supplies being purchased and controlled by a central management process? For most companies, the answer is no. Office supplies typically take up space in some corner or a forgotten closet – where they disappear entirely. Alternatively, employees purchase whatever they need without consulting the rest of the department. Either way, a free-for-all supplies situation lays the groundwork for unnecessary expenses to pile up at the printer.

A managed print service takes control of the printing supplies. By leveraging tools such as tracking software and meter reading, specialists know when a printer is getting low on supplies. Likewise, automatic supply replenishment means a company no longer needs to worry about maintaining an inventory of paper or cartridges – or accidentally purchasing the wrong thing. The right supplies in exactly the right amounts appear when they’re needed, and nothing else.

3. Inefficient Settings

Printer settings can make a huge difference in how long cartridges last, and many offices overlook this entirely. Whether it’s using color unnecessarily or not taking advantage of double-sided printing, companies can burn through their supplies without realizing why.

Managed services help companies optimize their print environment by considering the entire process. They can help choose the correct printer settings according to the types of job accompany most typically prints to help supplies – and printers – last as long as possible. Likewise, a managed document solution can help make sure that documents move through an office – and to the printers – in the most efficient formats possible.

4. The Wrong Printers

Printers are a serious investment for any office, and it can be hard to choose the best printer for the job. It’s easy to fall into the trap of picking the cheapest device, running the risk of investing in something which cannot meet the office needs. Likewise, it might be tempting to buy more printer than necessary, spending extra money on features that aren’t needed and won’t be used.

A managed service provider considers the types of documents which moves through an office environment. It then helps a company determine the best devices based on its current use and needs.

5. Lost Documents

It may not seem like it, but lost documents are costly. Whether an employee spends time looking for an important piece of paper or they simply print a new one, it still represents time and money wasted. Both managed print and managed document services eliminate this by creating an organized and streamlined document process where everything is always in its correct place.

Cut Waste With a Smile

Struggling to eliminate waste and unnecessary expenses? Managed services can help. Managed printing streamlines a print environment to reduce its footprint and resource consumption. Managed document services keep everything organized and flowing smoothly. Together, these services help companies achieve more efficiency and productivity.

Smile excels in helping companies achieve streamlined, productive environments. Contact us today to learn what our managed services can do for you.

 

What is Phishing and How to Keep a Network Safe

What is Phishing and How to Keep a Network Safe

The history of hacking goes back much further than most people suspect. In 1878 , Bell Telephone fired two teenage operators for disconnecting and redirecting calls to see how the technology worked. Some 103 years later, Ian Murphy – better known as Captain Zap – became the first convicted hacker. By the 2000s, hacking had gained a much more negative connotation as tactics methods of social engineering, such as phishing, allowed hackers to enter systems without the use of brute force.

Phishing is a hacker’s tactic which has gained notoriety since its creation in 1995. Today, it’s one of the biggest threats to corporate offices and small businesses alike. Cybercriminals are developing ever cleverer ways to trick employees into handing over credentials to access sensitive data, making it a difficult threat to counter.

Understanding phishing is the first step to devising a strategy to thwart its attempt. Read on to discover what phishing is and how to keep a network safe against it.

Phishing Explained

Phishing is a type of cyberattack which attempts to trick a person into handing over their login credentials to a company, service, or network. Typically, these attacks come in the form of a carefully disguised email. A cybercriminal crafts this email then sends it to a target who is known to use the service or network he or she is attempting to access.

What makes phishing so pernicious is that hackers typically have a strong familiarity with the service (and often the target) they’re attempting to trick. Rarely random, phishing relies on a level of social engineering not seen in other types of hacking attempts. Cybercriminals rely on this to slip past a user’s guard. Then, phishing emails often use the same design, format, and language as legitimate communications from a service. As a result, phishing emails can be incredibly difficult to spot.

Phishing is also particularly dangerous because of the popularity of mobile devices. In 2019, marketers estimate that 46 percent of all emails are opened on a mobile device like a smartphone. On such small screens, it’s more difficult to spot the telltale signs of a phishing attack. Together, these features combine to create a dangerous tactic which proves effective against inattentive employees.

Safety Tips to Avoid Getting Phished

Attentiveness when dealing with emails comprises the first line of defense against phishing attacks. To avoid getting phished, learn how to spot phishing emails, and make sure that employees are trained on these skills as well. These skills include:

1. Identifying URLs

Phishing attempts often rely on cloaked or very similar URLs which trick users into thinking that they’re going to the legitimate site. Train employees to pay attention to things like clever misspellings, or URL redirects which are masked by buttons or other links.

2. Understanding Communication Procedures

Make sure that the company has clearly defined communication procedures which include how, when, and why the company may send an email. Likewise, provide a list of login URLs for critical business processes and establish a policy of never asking employees to login to a service via an email.

Companies which rely heavily on cloud-based services like Salesforce or Amazon Web Services should consider establishing procedures for employees to confirm if an email they’ve received is legitimate. Encourage employees to contact IT if they suspect that an email is a phishing attempt – it not only helps employees avoid a cyber-attack but allows the IT department to create a catalog of attempts for deeper analysis.

3. Maintaining Security of Contact Info

Establish a policy which helps employees protect their private information. Encourage them not to list their work email, phone number, or other confidential information publicly on social media. This makes it harder for a cybercriminal to conduct a phishing attempt against them.

Prevent a Breach with Managed Network Services

Even when practicing the utmost diligence, it’s still possible for cybercriminals to sneak past security. That’s why many businesses today leverage managed IT and managed network services. These are third-party professionals who specialize in keeping networks secure and operational at all times. Managed network services can help prevent a breach due to phishing through:

  • 24/7 monitoring for unusual network activity.
  • Optimized security measures for email and host exchange servers.
  • Mobile security for company-issued devices.
  • Improved user authentication and access policies.
  • IT architecture solutions to protect data even if the network is compromised.

A managed network service provider is a smart choice when it comes to combatting phishing threats. With improved security, a business can stop a threat before it ever reaches a user’s inbox.

Smile Improves Business Security

Phishing remains a severe and damaging threat in the realm of cybersecurity. By tricking employees into handing over login credential, it’s harder to spot when an account has been compromised, or data has been stolen. That’s why every business should strongly consider deploying the expertise of a managed service provider. Data is valuable, and it deserves to remain safe.

Improve data security today and protect against phishing threats with a managed network service provider. Smile is thrilled to provide your company with the next generation of cybersecurity. Contact us today to get started.

 

 

Sharp MFP Integration Options for Office and Education Users

Sharp MFP Integration Options for Office and Education Users

When it comes to wireless printing and document management, the offices and classrooms of the future will be integrated. Beyond simply offering print, copy, and scan capability, today’s state-of-the-art multifunction printers (MFPs) offer innovating integration options that hugely reduce document processing time. Sharp MFP solutions are leading the way in integration, allowing users to automate complex workflows between many major third-party cloud-based services.

Nearly every organization in every industry uses one or more of these platforms to some degree. From small home-based businesses to large enterprises, cloud-based software platforms have transformed the way coworkers communicate and collaborate.

By integrating these platforms with your Sharp MFP, you can implement powerful document processing workflows without having to invest in expensive on-site infrastructure. Sharp’s ongoing partnerships with tech service providers ensures that your device will remain a central element of your most business-critical workflows.

Sharp MFP Integration Benefits

Sharp document systems seamlessly integrate with any of the following platforms. Combine your existing cloud infrastructure with Sharp hardware to streamline your most important process workflows.

1. Google Docs

New Sharp printers support Google Cloud Print. This allows users to print directly from their Google Docs drives. Importantly, this functionality extends to remote users wherever they can access their Google Drive folders. This makes it easy for remote workers to process documents and print them directly to your on-site Sharp MFP.

This functionality extends to scanning and copying as well. Your Sharp MFP can scan documents directly to a Google Docs folder so long as you have permission to edit the folder’s contents.

2. Microsoft OneDrive and Sharepoint

Offices that rely on Microsoft technology for document processing and communication can use Sharp AIP Cloud Connect to manage their MFP connections in one place. Sharp AIP is a collection of software connectors that allow Sharp multifunction devices to connect with a broad variety of cloud-based services.

The practical benefit of making these connectors part of a single toolset is that the Sharp AIP platform becomes your centralized solution center for securely communicating between various cloud platforms. It supports email, DropBox, and OnBase as well as Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint.

3. Blackboard Learn

Sharp has integrated its MFP functionality with Blackboard Learn, the industry-leading system for learning management. Blackboard Learn is a powerful tool on the academic campus, allowing students to scan, upload, and submit course material directly from any Sharp MFP.

This functionality allows students to submit handwritten and hardcopy assignments digitally. It is a powerful tool for encouraging paperless academic workflows.

4. Google Classroom

Google’s free web service empowers educators to create, distribute, and grade assignments without consuming paper. In order to facilitate the paperless workflow, the platform supports Sharp document systems, allowing teachers and professors to upload hardcopy documents for their students’ use.

New Sharp MFP devices support mobile printing for Google Classroom. This lets educators make full use of this innovative technology directly from a connected smartphone or tablet. Older Sharp MFPs are also compatible, provided the user update the device’s firmware.

5. AirPrint

Sharp MFPs support Apple’s AirPrint technology, allowing users to instantly print from any iOS or OS X device. Users do not need to download print drivers or set up network connections – Apple devices simply recognize the Sharp MFP and allow users to securely send documents to print.

Sharp’s Essential and Advanced workgroup document systems offer native support for AirPrint functionality that includes scanning and faxing in addition to printing.

6. Box

Box users can easily connect to their accounts directly through their Sharp MFP. Scanning and printing any file to Box is easy with the embedded Box connector. This connector is a Sharp OSA application included with every new Sharp device. In a few steps, you can install and use this service with single-sign-on functionality.

Implementing Sharp Cloud Connect

New Sharp MFPs come with Cloud Connect capability. SharePoint users can enjoy support for document profile metadata and subsites for better intranet document management.

Implementing this technology is simple. All you need to do is find the appropriate connector for your cloud service and utilize Sharp’s single-sign-on functionality. Once you are signed on, you can integrate paper-based workflows with your preferred cloud service.

All of Sharp’s new multifunction devices support cloud integration. Any device that access Google Chrome can use Sharp’s remote printing functions without having to install print drivers. Implementation of Sharp’s cloud printing, scanning, copying, and file management capabilities is within reach of every organization and classroom.

Talk to our team at Smile to find out how a Sharp MFP can offer you best-in-class integration for your office or classroom.

 

 

Cut Costs and Improve Performance with Managed Services

Cut Costs and Improve Performance with Managed Services

Who takes care of your organization’s network infrastructure, print fleet, and document management system? If the answer to these questions was, “the IT guy”, then you are missing out on important benefits that managed services can offer. Even if you have a dedicated IT team handling these issues, you can put that team to work generating value for your organization if you entrust a managed service provider with low-impact business-critical responsibilities.

These responsibilities include all of the infrastructure and tools your organization uses on a daily basis – networking, telephony, document management, and print resources. Managed services can generate value within every one of these fields by freeing up your IT resources for higher-impact work.

Trust Smile’s Managed Services to Generate Value

Smile provides managed services that address the five most common pain points our clients have when operating their own office infrastructure. We help businesses and educational institutions make better use of their resources by handling the operational needs of all devices on their networks.

1. SmileNET

Our managed network services team can deploy hardware, implement mobile-compatible services, and protect your business data. We offer comprehensive solutions for endpoint security, backup services, web hosting, and content management.

Using the latest network equipment on the market for managed print services, we can outfit your office with the servers, switches, and desktop workstations you need to streamline your digital processes. Our managed network solutions include disaster recovery appliances, onsite and offsite backup, and extensive remote monitoring. With your network infrastructure under Smile’s watch, you can dedicate IT resources to addressing client needs.

2. SmileMPS

Printing represents one of the highest operational costs for most businesses. Your IT team spends a great deal of time keeping your print fleet running, ordering consumables like paper and ink or toner on time, and deploying network-enabled multifunction devices. In most cases, in-house IT teams are overwhelmed just keeping up.

Smile managed printing services can pinpoint opportunities to save on costly expenses related to print usage. By running a comprehensive print audit and configuring your print fleet to meet the needs of each individual user, we can help you reduce unnecessary print usage, saving a significant amount of money from overhead costs.

3. SmileTEL

Smile TEL is a managed communication service that keeps your organization’s phone lines operating at optimal efficiency. The right telephone system ensures that each member of your team can easily communicate with one another – including remote workers and mobile users. By investing in managed communication, you ensure that your organization is positioned to save on telephony costs.

One of the ways we ensure cost savings in our communication management services is by ensuring our clients are properly configured for VoIP. VoIP technology lets you run calls through the Internet, reducing your reliance on expensive telephony infrastructure. We also ensure mobile compatibility and setup wireless networks in our clients’ offices.

4. SmileDOC

Losing documents is an avoidable expense that no modern business should have to shoulder. Advanced document management solutions allow our clients to implement paperless workflows for complex processes. At the same time, we ensure that a digital audit trail exists for every document processed, reducing the damage that mistakes and misfiled documents represent.

Our document management solutions strike a key balance between accessibility and security, make processes easier to complete, and reduce overall paper usage. Smile uses the most advanced document management software on the market, like DocuWare and Drivve, to generate value for our clients.

5. SmileTEC

For 98 percent of businesses, a single hour of downtime can cost thousands of dollars. Improper maintenance is one of the leading causes of office downtime, since employees are too busy to fix what isn’t broken. Once equipment breaks, however, production immediately grinds to a halt and it is up to your IT team to react as quickly as it can.

Smile’s preventative maintenance services can transform reactionary break/fix IT policy to a progressive policy that keeps office equipment working consistently. Our maintenance team members enjoy factory certification to work on Sharp, Lexmark, Canon, HP, and Panasonic devices, among many other brands.

Conclusion

Smile’s managed services are key to helping small and mid-sized businesses leverage scalable technical solutions the way large enterprises do. Instead of expending valuable business resources keeping your IT team busy, free up your employees to work on creative, value-added projects and leave your infrastructure needs to us.

Ready to enjoy the benefits of next-generation managed services? Smile’s  Solution Team can help you cut costs and improve office-wide production.