Multifunctional printers or devices (MFP or MFD - you pick which term you like best) are remarkable things. At times you think they can actually think for you with the capabilities they offer. There is a down side to this as well when we are trying to configure them for clients.
I am working with a lawyer's office where the key user has a list of the things that they would like to be able to do with the 'new' device:
When documents are scanned she would like to do double side and single sided scans at the same time. In discussing this what she wants is the ability to do double sided scans and eliminate the blank pages created when there is no data on the backside of the document.
Would like to be able to manipulate the scans. What is desired here is the ability to edit the output from the scan, cut and past sections of documents into other documents, add pages to the output and delete pages from the output of the scanning process.
The client did not know the difference between OCR'd scans and PDF scans other than their current process uses their MFP to create PDF's and they cannot edit that output.
A nice to have would be the ability to send multiple faxes at one time. I interpret this to mean they would like to be able to attach multiple documents to a single network fax from the PC.
Finally they would like to be able to track all of the interactions with the MFP for billing purposes; copies, faxes, scans and prints. They operate Equifax at this point but the version they use does not capture faxes and scans.
In the client's mind all of this functionality is part of the device. In looking to replace their current device they wish to obtain these benefits to their business and our task is to figure out how to package this result for them.
We know that everyone of these requests can be met, however they are not inherent in the hardware in most instances. Let's look at them in order as requested.
Eliminate the blanks so all documents can be scanned as double sided documents and only the pages with data will be stored in the resulting scan file. This can be easily done with secondary software as part of the scanning process. Products like NSI Autostore, Capture Plus and other image processing products will permit this capability to be implemented.
Manipulate the scanned output. Using Omnipage software to process the scans they could be converted to Word format for editing. PDF management software like Adobe Acrobat, Nitro Pro or many other PDF editors could permit this in PDF format. Its just a matter of determining which is the best choice for the addon program and how many users will need to be licensed.
As in (2) above if the client wants full blown text editing running the scans through an OCR package like OmniPage is probably best.
The multiple documents in one fax is a challenge we are still researching. Seemed easy in a Windows environment as you could just pick the files to be sent then right click and print, but this functionality only calls the default printer and if that is not your fax driver then it will not work. We continue to test this one out.
The output and input accounting processes can be accomodated with an upgrade to their Equitrac software or by putting one of the other account tracking packages that are now available into place. It will be a user preference and price that will decide this one.
So why do I say that users get confused?
In the discussions we have had with this and many other clients they see the addition or extension of these kinds of capabilities as part of the MFP device. In their minds they are replacing the hardware. Understanding that it is really a package of integrated software choices along with the hardware that will create their solution is not something they fully grasp. I don't think this is their fault. Like in so many other places they see advertising, talk to sales reps and maybe colleagues who tell them they should have these capabilities from their MFP.
Our task, and it is one we accept fully, is to go over the list of items they need to facilitate their business and then configure it with their choice of hardware, bundle it up and deliver the integrated result. Delivering on the whole piece is what we have to do to create a success.
Not an easy task but doable and it is so much more than just a straight MFP hardware deal. it is good to deal with a client who will tell us what the other components are that are valued in the deal.
Do you know where the hardware ends and where the software begins? Do you care? Are you ready to pay for the integration and effort?
Share your experience..