Stephanie Hurd

By: Stephanie Hurd on April 29th, 2021

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Why should I buy (or lease) a copier from my IT company?

Copiers. You don’t want to think about what a headache they can be. They’re big. They’re expensive. And you don’t have to tell me how finicky they can be – I once worked in a basement where the copier jammed when it rained.

As a business leader, your individual copying needs are minimal. So, if your office manager is happy with your copier and service company, you’re happy.

If no one in the office complains that the copier is broken or jammed, why would you rock the boat and even consider a change?

Your copier impacts several things in your business that are important to you as a business owner or leader but probably not as much of a priority to your office manager.

Sidenote: In this article, we’re using the term copier to describe all multi-function devices that, in addition to copying, also serve as your centralized printer, scanner, and possibly fax machine.

Copiers can create a few problems for your business if not properly managed:

  • Copy and printing costs are unpredictable and difficult to track and control.
  • Centralized copiers are high-touch devices, creating health and safety issues (especially in a pandemic) and logistics problems for a remote workforce.
  • Copiers introduce unique information and cybersecurity risks to your business.

In full disclosure, Innovative is an IT company in the copier business. We’re admittedly a little biased on the topic of getting your copier and support from an IT company because that’s what we do. But we know we’re not the right fit for every business.

There are tons of excellent copier-only companies out there. You may currently be using one. The purpose of this article is not to imply that they’re not good at their job – they may be great at their job. The purpose of this article is to teach you the unique benefits of getting copier services from your IT company. If those benefits don’t apply to you or aren’t a priority to your business, your copier-only vendor may be the best solution for your situation.

By the end of this article, you’ll understand which copier-related business problems IT companies can solve better than most copier-only companies and how to determine if your business could benefit from working with your IT company for copier services.

Why IT companies are getting into the copier business

Today’s copiers have progressed well beyond their one-trick-pony ancestors. Most of today’s office copiers aren’t actually copiers; they’re multi-function devices (MFDs). They’re fully integrated into the IT network and do many things like copy, print, scan, fax, email, store documents, and collect information.

Historically, copier companies worked in a physical world while IT companies worked in a digital world. As business needs have shifted from less physical copies and paper finishing to more digital document handling, copiers became more technical.

Copiers are no longer purely mechanical. Copier technology has dramatically advanced beyond putting ink on paper. Today’s copiers contain the same internal parts as computers (i.e., hard drives, processors, and memory). Historically, copier-only companies did not need the capacity and skills to configure and maintain copiers’ digital elements. Due to the mechanical nature of copier techs’ expertise, they’re usually not as well-versed as IT people in things like cybersecurity, data management, and configuring access control and data collection.

With about half of the functions of today’s copiers (aka multi-function devices) living in the digital space, it stands to reason that copier people are working with IT people more than ever.

Today, copier companies may depend on IT to do things like:

  • Install or update print drivers.
  • Create and manage email boxes for the copier to send and receive documents.
  • Install and configure backend software.
  • Configure the copier on the IT network.

The problem is that IT may not have access to administrative settings on the copier, and they may not have the skill set to work on the mechanical elements of the devices. Yet, the copier is connected to the IT network, making IT responsible for any security concerns the device introduces.

IT’s mission is broad. IT selects and maintains the technical devices and systems you need to conduct business and meet your future goals in the most efficient, effective, and secure manner. (If that’s not their mission, you might want to consider finding a new IT leader or switching to a different IT company.)

As copiers became more digital, they landed within the scope of IT’s mission. Service contracts with copier-only companies sometimes keep copiers out of IT’s control. To solve this conflict, IT companies started expanding their skills to include maintenance and support on the mechanical components of copiers. Today, IT companies (like Innovative) are positioned to take full ownership of all print and copy functions.

A note about copier companies growing into the IT space

The lines between copier people and IT people have blurred. Just as IT companies are expanding into the copier space, many copier companies have grown into the IT space. As copier companies grew their digital skills to keep up with advancing copier technologies, many started adding more and more IT services to their stack of services. So, what’s the difference between an IT company that offers copier solutions and a copier company that offers IT solutions?

Potentially nothing, potentially everything. The digital technologies associated with modern copiers are just one tiny grain in the bag of rice that is the IT field as a whole. The first thing to ask a copier company offering IT support is if they outsource the IT work. As copier companies recognized a need to add IT expertise, many established subcontracting relationships with IT companies. While this gives the copier experts access to the IT expertise they need, it can keep IT and copier support working in silos, and not giving you the benefits of a truly holistic IT/copier support experience.

In addition to outsourcing, some copier companies may have built out a competent IT arm of their business. Others may be more limited in their IT knowledge and expertise. No matter which direction you go, be sure to choose an IT partner experienced in all aspects of your technology infrastructure.

Check out this article on choosing a managed service provider for more information on what to look for in an IT company. The same considerations apply whether your potential partner was an IT company first or a copier company first.

Copier problems your IT company solves best

This all sounds great, but you’ve been working with a copier-only company for years and have had no issues. Sure, your IT company may have adopted a similar skill-set, but why would you make a change when you could have your copier company and IT company work together?

Because it’s IT’s job to have a complete picture of your network and all of its elements, we present recommendations to keep your data secure, maintain any industry compliance, and keep your business functioning.

The future of copiers is in the document solutions they provide to your company, not the physical device sitting on the floor. IT companies speak the language of solutions. They’ve been in the business of solutions since Y2K, when the world realized computers are more than just inanimate objects, they’re solutions systems that need intangible upgrades and improvements.

The following signs indicate an IT company may be a good partner for your print/copy solutions:

  • You are not currently tracking print/copy activities or costs.
  • You purchase ink cartridges and toner, pay for page overages on your copier contract, or reimburse remote employees for at-home or third-party (Staples or Kinkos) printing costs.
  • You are governed by compliance regulations like HIPAA or PCI.
  • You want to minimize the need for employees to come in contact with high-touch surfaces.
  • Your remote employees have printing and copying needs.
  • You print personal, sensitive, or proprietary information.
  • You have unresolved issues and feel stuck between a copier company blaming IT for the problem and IT accusing the copier company.

Cybersecurity

Did you know that a copier or printer can get hacked or attacked with ransomware just like a computer? IT people have been protecting devices their entire careers and are accustomed to addressing antivirus solutions, data encryption, and disaster recovery on the devices they manage.

When your copier techs focus solely on maintaining the mechanical elements of your copier, they may not think about things like cybersecurity or user access configurations. When IT is unaware that your copier company changed a configuration setting or introduced new equipment to the network, we may not find out until a network scan alerts us. A new threat was introduced by then that can create security risks, compliance issues, and potential data breaches if not properly configured and protected.

An IT company is (or should be) already thinking about cybersecurity and compliance when they introduce new devices and will treat your printers with the same concern for security and compliance as they treat computers.

Cost Control

You can’t control costs that you don’t accurately track. Copy (and print) costs are notoriously difficult to track.

It’s not uncommon to spread copier costs across multiple line items and possibly even across different departmental budgets. You may also record copier costs differently from printing costs. For example, ink cartridges and toner are consumables associated with printing and copying. Your department managers may charge replacement ink cartridges for a desktop printer are to a department budget for office supplies. At the same time, you include the lease and support contract for the main office printer/copier in your administrative equipment and expenses budget. However, the copier company includes toner for that device (i.e., your consumable print/copy cost) in the contract.

The more data you use to inform business decisions, the more predictable your results will be. IT companies collect and report on digital data all the time. The more data you collect about your copy and print habits (i.e., who, what, where, when, why, and how much), the clearer picture you’ll have of your actual spending. From there, you can drill in and identify opportunities for cost savings.

We’re not implying that anyone is doing anything incorrectly or unethical to drive up printing and copying costs. Siloed print and copy expenses are usually much less cost-effective than a centralized print and copy management that looks at all print and copy needs holistically.

Remote Printing and Copying

If remote employees are printing at home, are they submitting expense reports for home inkjet printing costs? Managers may overlook these seemingly minor expenses when they see a single $30 expense. But when you add up everyone’s $30, you’re likely paying much more for de-centralized at-home printing than you did in the office.

If they’re printing at high volume and need access to those documents immediately (like someone who prints batches of invoices), providing a desktop laser printer could be significantly more cost and time effective than reimbursing them for their printer.

However, if they don’t need immediate access to the printed documents – think about a salesperson needing to print in preparation for a client meeting or presentation. Mobile printing applications allow remote employees to send documents to the cloud and release them to print when they arrive at the office. An IT company is usually well-versed in configuring cloud solutions like this in ways that protect any sensitive and proprietary information or documents.

Innovative’s approach to copy solutions

We can’t speak to the way every IT company structures its print/copy solutions. So, we’re going to get a little specific to Innovative’s model here. Suppose you’re working with another IT company (or even a copier-only company). In that case, you can use this portion as a guide to making sure you fully understand their approach to comparable offerings.

Innovative provides print and copy solutions through a managed services model.

Innovative’s managed print/copy contracts include customized combinations of:

  • Usage and cost analysis.
  • Maintenance and support.
  • Ink and toner.
  • Hardware with options to purchase or lease.
  • Security solutions.
  • Add-on software.

Managed print/copy contract

Print/copy contracts begin with a print/copy analysis.

First, we’ll conduct an inventory of every model of printer or copier within your organization and identify the average printing cost per page for each device. Costs per page vary widely from device to device, ranging from less than a penny to $2 per page or more depending on the device, quality of print, type of ink or toner, etc.

Next, we’ll determine the average pages per month each device prints. We’ll evaluate your copier invoices for page counts and any regular or seasonal overages. We’ll also pull usage reports from each device. Depending on how much historical access we’ve had to your network and devices, this process could take 30 days or more to collect the data. When we don’t have historical usage records, we pull a starting and ending page meter report from each device at least 30 days apart. Since we’ll only have one 30-day snapshot of usage, we’ll rely on you to tell us about any anomalies that may have occurred in or out of that specific window (e.g., printing programs for an annual fundraising event or other large annual documents).

Finally, we’ll calculate the average monthly cost of each device, talk through your workflows and employee needs, and map out a holistic print strategy that accommodates your needs and maximizes your total print/copy investment.

Based on the information we gather about your average usage, your customized managed print/copy contract with Innovative includes unlimited maintenance, support, and ink/toner for the covered devices.

Hardware with options to purchase or lease

As a Konica Minolta dealer, Innovative offers a selection of print, copy, and multi-function devices to meet most business needs. Each device is hand-picked to meet your requirements and budget. We select devices with the most appropriate page speed, quality, and functions, including any necessary finishing functions like sorting, stapling, hole punching, etc.

All hardware is available to purchase directly from Innovative or lease through our leasing partner, Great America.

Security solutions

Konica Minolta’s newest line of devices come standard with self-encrypted, solid-state drives (SSDs). In layman’s terms, that means Konica Minolta’s latest printers, copiers, and multi-function devices come standard with the latest technology in hard drives that are the least susceptible to hacking.

Additional security configurations are available through the bizhub SECURE and Bitdefender® virus scan add-ons. These options allow administrators to configure security on most devices to suit customized backup, security, and compliance needs.

Add-on software

Software add-ons are where the rubber meets the road for adding functionality to your copiers.

Some of the most popular software add-ons include:

  • PaperCut – A print management software that allows you to monitor, track, and control all copy and print activity across your entire network.
  • Find-Me Printing – Designed for users who float between locations and defaults printing to the device closest to their current location.
  • Mobile Print – A mobile app that allows users to print to any Konica Minolta device within the organization from their mobile devices.
  • Bizhub Remote Access – Makes your copier touch-free. A mobile application mirrors the Konica Minolta device’s panel so that you can copy, scan, fax, and customize document settings from your mobile device with no need to touch the copier.
  • Document Management – Retain documents directly within the copier. There is no need to sign into the nearest computer to find and print employment forms, tax documents, etc. Users sign into the copier and select the document they’d like to print from their document library.

Copiers: There’s more to them than copying

If your copier company is not talking to you about these issues and options, they’re likely not configuring your devices to work as an information management device. To maximize your use of data and information, you must view printers and copiers as part of your information technology ecosystem.

IT should always be thinking about technology through the lens of the business goal. Copiers are a great tool that can reduce friction, but the reality is they could be creating uncontrolled costs, duplication, and security risks when not properly managed.

If copier functions are a stand-alone function in your business, a stand-alone copier company may be a good fit. But if your business could benefit from the more digital elements of today’s copiers, an IT company with expertise in managed print and copy services may be an excellent choice for your business.

Managed IT Services