The TDSIT Blog

Document Security Starts with Your MFP

Posted by Tim Stanley on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 @ 02:25 PM

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It seems like every time you open the paper, there’s another story about a data breach. The latest involves the theft of millions of accounts from MySpace. Even though it’s an outdated and rarely used website, it still houses plenty of valuable data - now in the hands of a cybercriminal.

One positive aspect of all this publicity is that we're all gaining awareness of security and the need for vigilance when protecting company data. Today, it’s common for offices to employ one or more multifunction print devices (MFPs). These devices are more than simply printers; they're sophisticated network devices with embedded web servers, hard drives and cloud accessibility. They function just like any other computer on your network and if not properly secured, leave a wide open door directly to your company network.

When it comes to protecting your data and network, here are three areas to consider:

Security at the MFP - First, never leave confidential documents sitting at the device. Swipe cards, passwords or features such as Secure Print can help ensure that a print job isn’t output until the user is waiting at the device. These steps can also help reduce the risk of unauthorized faxing, helping to ensure sensitive documents aren’t inappropriately distributed. Different levels of access can be granted at the MFP such as blocking certain employees or guests from more sensitive material, higher-level functions or server-level access.

Create Mobile Print and BYOD Protocols – There’s no question that as workforces become increasingly mobile the need for mobile printing is in demand; however, this presents a whole new level of security risk. Not only does your MFP need to be secure, but so does every device that has access to it. Develop guidelines outlining around who can, and can’t, access your network and always utilize the authentication measures as mentioned above to ensure your data stays safe.

Protect Your MFP’s Hard Drive - An MFP’s internal drive can be vulnerable whether it’s in use or decommissioned. Make sure to protect your device when it is active with automatic disk/log wiping and data encryption, and be sure to properly dispose of the hard drive when your MFP is retired.

Taking simple proactive steps can protect your company network from a data breach. Remember, your MFP is basically another computer on your network. Give it, along with any mobile devices your staff might use, the same level of protection as your network to keep your data safe and secure!

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Tags: multifunction printer

Improve Your Business With Scanning

Posted by Tim Stanley on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 @ 09:09 AM

scan (1)

Technology has changed the playing field for businesses in every industry. Often, business owners overlook some of the tools they already have in the office. Your digital multifunction printer is at the top of that list! Many users have no idea about the capabilities of their MFPs. Fully leveraged, your MFP can create seamless productivity between the constant flow of paper through your office and digital information through both the printer and scanner functions.

Today’s scanners are much more advanced and can be used in a number of ways to increase productivity, streamline workflow and free up employees for mission critical tasks. With the development of optical character recognition (OCR) software, scanners can now convert documents into editable and searchable text. Information can be easily transferred to a digital format that can be manipulated, searched, shared and stored. Here are several ways that using your scanner’s capabilities can improve your business.

1. Scan to email – Documents can be scanned, converted to pdf files and emailed directly, eliminating the wait for fax confirmation or multi-step processes for delivery.

2. Scan to folder/network drive – Information can be scanned directly to a folder on your desktop, or to your network drive allowing other employees instant access to critical information. Documents can be shared, edited and automatically backed-up.

3. Automating tasks – This is the most underutilized function for most MFP users. OCR technology can convert scanned text into editable text. As a result, documents can be named and indexed. This named data can be used by other business applications like Excel. Actions can be triggered automatically, for example, payments received can be automatically credited to the correct client account.

4. Workflow – Scanners can be effectively used to direct documents into your office workflow process. Accounts payable, order fulfillment, and HR processes are examples of paper intensive tasks that can be streamlined. Once digitized, documents are easily shared among employees and can be easily monitored by management.

Your MFP is so much more than just a printer and copier. With scanning, you can streamline paper loads throughout your operation by digitizing critical information. This data can then be shared, routed and automated to improve workflow, free expensive employee time, and increase worker productivity effectively eliminating paper trails and allowing your business to work smarter!

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Tags: office productivity, scanning, printer technology, scanner, multifunction printer, paper to digital

How MPS Can Help Streamline Workflow

Posted by Tim Stanley on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 @ 10:04 AM

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The concept of workflow applies to every aspect of every business. Whether you design Internet advertising, or build tables, efficient workflow makes the process repeatable and profitable. Workflow is defined as “a combination of tools and tasks one takes to complete a specific purpose.”

One workflow-enhancing device in today’s office is the multifunction printer. A Managed Print Services (MPS) provider not only supports the operation of these devices, they can also assess your organization’s printing workflow to ensure the proper equipment and processes are in place to maximize productivity.

Implementing an MPS Program

The first step in any MPS strategy is taking an inventory of your existing technology. An MPS provider will inventory your equipment to determine if there are deficiencies in your print environment. Next, they will examine your print procedures to determine if your existing technology can support your processes or if changes are necessary to improve workflow. Your provider can monitor printers remotely using software to detect potential problems before they become apparent to your employees!

Upon completing their assessment, an MPS provider will begin to make changes to your technology and processes if needed. For example, they may put controls in place regarding color print to reduce waste, or default jobs to a particular printer to reduce output costs. They may suggest adding multifunction devices, or eliminating older technology to lower your cost per page and save your money.

MPS Improves Workflow and Productivity

An MPS program improves workflow efficiency by adjusting processes and upgrading equipment in your print environment. Simply changing the location of certain print devices based on employee ratios and use patterns can drastically and immediately improve workflow. Software solutions such as print monitoring software are longer-term approaches that can also be used to increase productivity. Other software solutions your MPS provider may employ can reduce waste, lower overhead costs and streamline your operation.

To find out if an MPS program can benefit your business, we invite you to click below for a free, no-obligation technology assessment. 

Tags: managed print services, managed service provider, office solutions, increase employee productivity, multifunction printer, workflows

Multifunction Printers: They’re Not All Created Equal!

Posted by Tim Stanley on Sun, May 31, 2015 @ 09:20 PM

not all mfps created equalIf you’re planning on adding a multifunction device in your office, you’ve probably noticed that they all look alike! They all print, fax, scan, and copy. The only difference seems to be the price, but even then, there’s not much difference! So how do you differentiate between MFPs to find the right one for your business? It starts by asking the right questions!

Look Behind the Curtain

The true differences can be found in the level of support provided by the manufacturer or reseller. Examine the warranty. Who covers it, the manufacturer or the reseller? How long does it last, 90 days, six months, three years? 

Is there a service agreement attached? Does the agreement offer service credits?  Your machine will inevitably require service at some point in its lifecycle. When the service tech comes to your office to repair your machine and prints multiple color and black and white test prints, who pays? Believe it or not, small differences like these can make a world of difference.

Check Under The Hood

MFPs generally use one of two engine systems. The first is a drum based engine. This requires a service technician to maintain the machines. The second is a cartridge-based engine.  Much like laser printers they have replaceable components like toner cartridges. They generally require less onsite maintenance.

Another area that should be examined is mobile printing.  As more businesses move more functions online, mobile print is a growing trend. There are a variety of devices, each with different requirements. Make sure the printer you choose supports the devices your workforce employs. Also, if leasing there may be an additional charge to enable mobile print. Ask your vendor before signing any contract.

Finally, security is an issue on every business owner’s mind. Since You MFP basically functions as a computer with an internal hard drive, memory, and Internet connectivity, it can become a security risk.  Look for systems offering full system security. Certified by the manufacturer and verified by a third party service such as Common Criteria Certification, this typically is installed by the manufacturer.

With a little bit of research, you’ll soon see that not all multifunction printers are created equal. Go beyond simple price point and functionality to find the true value when making a choice!

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Tags: multifunction print devices, warranty, purchase office equipment, multifunction printer, Purchase multifunction Printer

Is It Time To Update Your Print Driver?

Posted by Tim Stanley on Fri, May 08, 2015 @ 01:21 PM

time to update your print driver tds

Technology advances at an alarming rate, and without periodic updates, electronics may become outdated or at risk for a security breach. When it comes to your printer, software updates can help increase efficiency, while ensuring print processes run smoothly; here's how.

What Is A Printer Driver?

A print driver is a program that controls your printer, translating the data between your computer application and printer. Each time you hit the print key, the driver takes control, sending the necessary data to your printer with the correct commands, prompting the unit to print your information on paper. 

Signs You Need To Update

There's no need to continually update your print driver just for the sake of doing so, and while it may seem like a great idea, it can actually do more harm than good. Your printer will begin sending signals when it's time for an update, including the following:

  • The printer may become unresponsive. 
  • Network connections seem to be inconsistent.
  • Reduced print quality.
  • Print projects aren't completed and seem to be lost. 

A How To Guide

Follow these four easy steps to update your driver:

  1. Note the make and model. All drivers are not created equally, where drivers are specific to each manufacturer and model. Find the make and model number prior to searching onliine for the appropriate update specific to your device, typically located on the back or side of the printer. 
  2. Find the correct update. The latest update may not be your best option; carefully check the list of drivers available for your exact make and model. 
  3. Download and install the drivers. Follow the online instructions to download and install the drivers for your devices. If you've partnered with an MPS provider, updates will be taken care of for you. 
  4. Do a test print. Order documents from several different printers and applications to ensure the driver updates have solved any existing issues. 

Your Managed Print Services provider does more than keep track of supplies and maintenance, they can also help ensure your printers are up to date with the latest patches and upgrades.

 Find out how your business can save up to 30% in print costs in 30 days:

cut print costs

 

Tags: managed print services, printer technology, multifunction printer, Print driver

Reasons Why Print Isn’t Dead and How to Take Advantage of It

Posted by Tim Stanley on Tue, Apr 07, 2015 @ 02:20 PM

reasons why print isn't deadCompanies are moving into the digital realm at high speed. That’s certainly true of my company, too. But printed material should continue to play a major role in your business model. Print is not dying or getting old – it’s getting new.

Here are five things you might not realize about printed materials:

1. Clients Demand It We find there’s still a segment of our population that prefers printed material to digital products. Until that changes, print continues to have exclusive value to that consumer. That’s something many businesses still understand. A Pitney Bowes survey found that 76 percent of small businesses said their ideal marketing strategy is a combination of print and digital messages. Further, the Direct Mail Association Factbook shows that in 2013, 65 percent of consumers of all ages made a purchase as a result from direct mail. In other words, if you can get printed materials in someone’s hands, it’s still effective.

2. Technology is Improving Printed materials continue to matter even as technology revolutionizes the world around us, and they matter in part because of new technologies. You’ve probably heard of 3D printing, where robot-like machines create usable products with girth and weight. That kind of technology remains just outside of accessibility for most businesses. But conventional printing options have evolved, too. Modern multifunction printers can make saddle-stitched booklets, and stack, slit, cut, crease or make a perfect bound booklet as well. The only thing these machines can’t do is shake your client’s hand after you’ve completed the sales pitch.

3. Quality is Improving, Too The quality of the documents themselves is improving, as are the quality of the images on them. If you haven’t tried a print campaign in a while, you might be surprised how far printed material has advanced. I’m seeing gold toner and clear toner used more frequently now, something we couldn’t do even a few years ago. In particular, the clear toner creates a translucent sheen when it’s printed. It produces a simple watermark on your document, but not something that’s so complicated it requires a black light to see. If you’re printing something you worry can be counterfeited, try clear toner. A quality printer can make it in a hurry, but it can’t be duplicated on a flimsy ink jet printer some ticket forger might have at home. You’ll also be amazed at the difference between the images you knew from a few years ago and the current line of printed materials. Documents made in your office can now resemble the work done on large offset printers, and your clients will never guess your documents were made with toner on paper.

4. Small Batches Make a Difference — We’re also learning so much more about the business of how people use printed materials. If you go through a traditional firm for a print order, they’ll likely try to add on to your order and push a few extra copies. But research shows that 50 to 60 percent of large print orders never get used. What’s more, you’ll keep using the same materials over a longer period of time, which means changes to the document are needed and you’re forced to scribble your new cell phone number on the back of your old business card. Research also shows you’ll use 15 to 20 percent of your printed items with incorrect phone numbers, email addresses or company rosters. But with advanced print systems accessible in the small business or even home office realm, you can bypass those trends. Having the ability to print a document or two at a time changes everything. You can print only what you’ll need for your next sales call, and that means the information you’ll give out can always be correct.

5. It’s Accessible Yet Permanent Technology is certainly changing the way we work, but it’s making things better. Think about a legal form a lawyer might have at the ready. As regulations and laws change, the source document can now change with them. And with the ability to search for text on a PDF, you can locate the outdated text. There’s no room for antiquated documents in our new world, and with this new technology you can keep fewer digital records and print fewer outdated forms.

You’ll also never run out of battery power on a printed itinerary, like I’ve done with the one in my phone. Creating multiple copies of the same document in different realms – printed and digital – makes sense. In the event of a catastrophic failure, you’ve always got a working copy, because power outages don’t have much effect on a printed document.

To view the original article in InBiz Northwest Arkansas, click here.

Tags: value of print, printer technology, multifunction printer

Do You Have a Mobile Print Solution in Place?

Posted by Tim Stanley on Tue, Jan 27, 2015 @ 12:16 PM

mobile print solutionAs more companies and workers embrace mobile technology as a part of their daily business practices, the need for a mobile print solution is becoming more of a concern.  While there are questions and needs for both company IT departments and end-users, there is no question that businesses need to implement a mobile print strategy.

Let’s examine a few of the concerns of both IT professionals and mobile workers when implementing a mobile printing solution.

IT Concerns

IT professionals’ concerns regarding implementing a mobile printing strategy center around the time and resources needed to set-up and manage a system. Security is also a main concern, especially any security risks involving proprietary information.  Questions also arise around specific or unique applications and print driver support.

While these are all valid concerns, today’s mobile printing solutions address these issues directly. A good mobile print solution will alleviate the need for device specific applications and unique print drivers. Most offer built-in support for multiple devices and operating systems as a standard feature. Security is also built in which eliminates the need to deal with third party software. Because these concerns are addressed within the platform, IT time and resources needed to manage a mobile print solution are minimal.

End-User Concerns

Most end-users are concerned about the printing capabilities offered by their device. Another concern is for document file format support. As mobile use has continued to grow, more mobile print management companies are expanding support for MFPs, printers, and mobile devices. All offer support across multiple device platforms and operating systems.

In addition to print capabilities, most mobile print solutions offer scanning, document sharing and management, and cloud storage and program support depending on your MFPs functionality. A large variety of file types can be printed including MS Word, PowerPoint and Excel, along with PDF, TIFF, BMP, XPS and HTML emails and rich text documents.

Does your company have a mobile print solution? It’s time to explore the possibilities. It’s a smart business decision!

To find out how your business can save up to 30% in print costs in 30 days, click here: 

cut print costs

Tags: mobile workforce, mobile print solution, multifunction printer, cloud printing

How to Maximize Your MPS Experience in Two Simple Steps

Posted by Tim Stanley on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 @ 11:17 AM

Managed Print Services
There is no better way to manage your intricate print environment, than by partnering with a Managed Print Services (MPS) provider. In addition to experiencing an improved workflow and the benefits of an optimized infrastructure, this service can also help to lower the burden on your IT department while improving employee productivity throughout your office. Maximize your MPS experience by choosing a partner that will help you elevate your business, through sustained, long term goals and development; here are two simple steps you can take to make the most of your investment.

Look Towards the Future

Success in business is dependent upon a number of factors, including the ability to evolve as customer needs change, along with technology. A flexible agreement can help maximize your MPS experience by giving you the option to expand or extend your engagement as needed. It's up to both you and your MPS provider to continually assess and evaluate current and future technology solutions, to help you stay one step ahead of your competition while streamlining your network and saving time and money. One such example would be the implementation of a secure, mobile print solution to accommodate the growing trend of printing from personal smartphones or tablets. 

Customize Your Print Solutions

Your MPS partnership should begin with a thorough evaluation of your current IT infrastructure, to identify software and hardware solutions that can help to maximize your MPS experience and enhance your print network. If you're looking to upgrade or expand your current technology, consider incorporating multi-function printers (MFPs) into your print environment. These all-in-one units are capable of scanning, emailing, printing or copying with the touch of a button, have compelling workflow capabilities, and act as a bridge to cloud technology. Look for an MPS provider that will help you find solutions to the challenges unique within your organization, and help you realize your individual business goals.

Maximize your MPS experience by choosing a vendor that is more than just a service provider, but a valued member of your team. Regardless of the nature of your business, or whether you're looking to enhance or upgrade your existing print network, your MPS partnership can help you to reduce costs, improve productivity, and let you focus on what's really important: improving your bottom line.

To find out how much your business spends on print, click here for your free print assessment: 

Print Assessment

Tags: managed print services, managed service provider, control print costs, multifunction printer

Hidden Fees: Just When You Thought It was Safe to Scan!

Posted by Tim Stanley on Fri, May 30, 2014 @ 06:26 PM

TDS scanningFees

In a volatile economy, companies are looking for any way to make or save money – and their efforts often result in hidden charges and other low-key pricing tactics. If you travel by air, for instance, you must have noticed the ever-changing (and rising) baggage fees positioned as somehow an advantage to a flier.

Even items as basic as peanut butter and bathroom tissue have undergone “product shrinkage” in the past few years – delivering less in a familiar-looking package but at the same or even higher price. Consumer advocates decry these methods, but manufacturers maintain that they are primarily responding to rising commodity costs and managing consumer expectations while staying competitive.

What’s all this got to do with your MFP?
You may think that your multifunction printer (MFP) vendor offers fixed per-page costs that help you budget for your printing needs more accurately.

But even within your company’s MFP contract, you may be paying a hidden charge. The popularity of scanning has led to a surge in per-transaction – call them “per scan” – fees that many users aren’t even aware of.

Per-scans are similar to per-page copy/print charges in that each scan counts as a “click” and is charged accordingly.  Because a scan doesn’t result in extra paper coming out of the printer, users may well assume that they are not being charged.

These fees can cost corporations tens of thousands of dollars yearly while bringing in new revenue streams for MFP vendors.

You don’t have to be stuck with extra fees
Per-scan fees need not drain your printing budget. Talk to your staff about how much they typically scan in a month’s time, then review your billing invoice for that month. If you notice a lot of “little” incidental charges that don’t look familiar, one of them could be a per-scan fee.

If you are considering buying or leasing a new system, identify a vendor who is willing to work with you to stabilize the entire range of MFP charges associated with servicing the equipment – because when it comes to billing, the best surprise is no surprise at all!

To find out how much your business spends on print, click here for your free print assessment: 

Print Assessment

Tags: scanning, hidden fees, printing costs, multifunction printer, true cost of printing

Before Buying an MFP, What Service Questions Should You Have Answered?

Posted by Tim Stanley on Thu, Oct 31, 2013 @ 12:23 PM

TDS service

All businesses are looking for ways to spend less when it comes to internal office expenses, with one of the biggest being print and toner expenses. While your office can easily switch over to monochrome printing or limit the number of print jobs on a weekly basis, there might be something else entirely that you're overlooking which could result in a very expensive annual bill. That overlooked expense - Paying for copies or prints being made on a service call.

When your service technician comes in to check out your printers or MFPs to ensure that they are working properly, they typically have to make some impressions or test prints or copies in order to make sure that the problem has been rectified and that the machine is operating properly.

However, some technicians will do hundreds of impressions in a single service call that the business will have to pay for and that can really add up throughout the year. So, what exactly can you do?

  • First and foremost, ask about rates when it comes to service calls. Be honest and open, understand what happens to the impressions the service technician is doing when working on your machine. If you're going to be billed an additional amount how can you get a credit back?
  • Keep track of all service calls, just in case. If you are not credited for a certain time a technician came out to service your system and they created extra impressions, you can bring it up with the dealer.
  • If you're working with Xerox and they are providing the service directly there is a line item known as "copy credits" on the invoice that you receive after the service call. You can get a credit back for both black and white and color impressions made during any service call.

Don't be left out of the loop when it comes to expenses and additional costs when service calls are performed, especially when you have to foot the bill! Instead, know exactly what to ask your service technician ahead of time and make sure that you get credit for the impressions they make on your machines.

To find out how much your business spends on print, click here for your free print assessment: 

Print Assessment

Tags: multifunction printer, service agreement, total cost of operation