Implementing a modern workflow can help IT ride the document wave

December 15, 20175 Minute Read

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You’ve got a big IT budget presentation to make in five minutes. You’re perspiring a little, you want a glass of water, and you’re rushing around to get everything set up—the whole nine yards. But when you swing by the printer to pick up the informational packets, the documents are mysteriously missing. Now, you’re sweating bullets.

Imagine one of your users needs critical info printed back at the office to close a deal—via mobile device. Sounds pretty stressful, doesn’t it? But these types of scenarios are all too common in offices where implementing a modern workflow is a must.

Whether it’s documents, presentations, research, social media posts, memos, or collaboration tools, office workers are swimming in both paper and digital materials that are fundamental to their everyday tasks. Paper and digital documents coexist in the modern workplace and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Today, it’s like all our fates depend on maximum efficiency at work—as IT knows well, with how fast tech moves. Implementing a modern workflow, which enables people to seamlessly switch between a range of formats, is key to getting stuff done in an efficient way.

Leaving a paper trail

Let’s break it down to understand just how much people need paper. Data from an IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by HP, titled, “Modern Workflow: Multifunction Printer Importance in an Increasingly Digital World” makes it pretty clear that while digital formats are becoming the standard in business, paper is still massively important:

  • Workers say they use 28 percent paper and 72 percent digital documents.
  • In two years, they expect to use 20 percent paper versus 80 percent digital.
  • IDC projects that more than 1 trillion pages will be printed annually in the United States through 2020.

Employees today are more mobile than ever, too, but having a hard copy to take home or when traveling is a top reason—54 percent, in fact—workers turn to paper time and time again. According to research from Global Workplace Analytics, 50 percent of the US workforce is allowed to telework at least some of the time, and around 20–25 percent of the workforce regularly operates remotely. In these situations, printed documents are just plain useful. Our users need the ability to print remotely and from mobile devices—seamlessly and securely.

Work ain’t what it used to be

The shift in balance between digital and paper documents is a pressure point for tons of small businesses. Without implementing a modern workflow, inefficiencies and bottlenecks can gum up the works and prevent employees from being as productive as possible.

IDC also revealed that more than 20 percent of today’s workforce time is spent extracting information from multiple documents. That’s a lot of time. On top of that, workers can use up to four or five different content repositories to get their work done, which can make keeping track of document-based work processes confusing. Document-related processes are also contributing to a 20 percent loss in employee productivity each year. It’s like running with weights on. Any tech that can improve the efficiency of working with documents can go a long way.

Businesses should think about the security of their workflows, too. As the workplace goes digital, that opens the door to more security risks—yet 75 percent of small and midsize businesses have no document security system in place. IT’s plagued by the increasing sophistication of attacks, controlling employee mobile devices, and print security. Hacks and data breaches can wreak havoc on operations, so security needs to be a priority in managing both physical and digital documents.

Implementing a modern workflow with MFPs

You may understand why implementing a modern workflow is a good idea—but doing it is another thing entirely. To achieve your workflow goals, you should turn to technologies, like multifunction printers (MFPs), that fulfill four core needs: efficiency, security, scanning, and mobility.

1. Efficiency

Imagine if your users could produce whatever paper-based documentation they needed on-demand, without hitting delays or dealing with reprints due to poor quality. Multifunction printers can help businesses update and enhance their document-based processes. They print fast and consistently, which eliminates the need to wait around the printer for documents to slog their way through.

2. Security

MFPs can also address security concerns. More than 70 percent of IDC survey respondents indicated that security features have a “high level of influence” on printer and MFP acquisition. Makes sense, given what a pain security can be. Buyers want their cake and to eat it, too—or in this case, they want printers equipped with security features that ensure IT infrastructure is secure, fit seamlessly into their workflows, and actually make their lives easier.

There are three types of security features you’ll want to seek out in MFPs:

  • Device security features, including user authentication, secured device ports, secured hard drive, secured paper trays, and automatic sign off
  • Data security features, including controlling/restricting use of features, tracking and monitoring use, security services, and authorized printer firmware
  • Document security features, including pull printing, locked/blocked sending destinations, and printing from cloud applications

3. Printing and scanning

MFPs are serving an important function in the paper-to-digital transition with their scanning capabilities. Ninety-three percent of office workers expect to either maintain or increase their current volume of scanning in three years, according to the IDC report, and offices need to be equipped to effectively handle these needs. Workers expect to print up to 40 percent more from their mobile device in three years, as well. By enabling mobile printing, MFPs speed up the review and approval of documents and increase the number of transactions that can be processed.

All these improvements have a direct impact on the bottom line, which is ultimately what implementing a modern workflow is about. Because MFPs tie into emerging IT trends, they’re becoming the norm in the workplace. Feeling frustrated or bogged down by inefficient workflows? There’s no time like the present to explore how multifunction printers could make your life—and the lives of everyone you work with—easier.

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