Creating a great work space needn’t be expensive. Here’s how you equip your office for pennies on the dollar, without sacrificing quality or productivity. You probably won’t be able to reach the dizzying heights of the world’s coolest offices, with their ‘collaboration pods’ and firing ranges, but there are certainly a few clever ways to equip your office on the cheap. You can get great quality franking supplies from companies like http://www.nslmailing.co.uk.
Don’t be a magpie
Go with what you need, not what you want, no matter how shiny it is. Ask yourself if you really need need that cocobolo conference table or that new, top-of-the-range laptop with the latest graphics card.
The one exception is a good chair. You and every one of your employees need a comfortable, adjustable chair. Uncomfortable seating will land you with low productivity and high medical bills.
Think long term
Buying intelligently might cost you a bit more up front – think LED lighting and an efficient heating system – but may well save you pennies down the line. You might also consider buying laptops that allow you to later replace the memory and hard drive – a much cheaper option than having to buy a new fleet of laptops every time you’re looking to upgrade.
Be software smart
As Clare has said before, small businesses and startups have small budgets but big IT needs so, rather than buying enterprise-level software, use open source software, like LibreOffice, and other cheap alternatives to more expensive products. What these may lack in cool features (do you really need all those bells and whistles?) and clean design, they more than make up for in savings.
You should also make use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications – Turbine, Basecamp, Dropbox, etc. Old fashioned software licences left you with the headache of hefty up-front costs and routine maintenance for software you had to install and host on your own servers. SaaS apps, on the other hand, are hosted by the SaaS provider and allow you to simply pay for what you use in monthly or annual instalments.
You don’t have to worry about maintaining your own servers or paying for the space to house them; there’s no need to upgrade or reinstall your software every year; regular updates are pushed to all users through the cloud so you’re always using the best version of the software; and the cost is spread over time, meaning software becomes less of a gamble – there’s more room to experiment and find what works for you and your team.
Try to squeeze the most out of suppliers without burning your bridges. Exercising your negotiation skills not only helps you get short-term deals but also helps you to build mutually beneficial long-term relationships with your preferred suppliers.
If they know you’re a valuable, repeat customer, you’re more likely to be offered discounts, free trials of new products and priority software upgrades.
Look to see if any local businesses are downsizing or going under and if any office supply and IT stores are shifting old stock or having a sale – they’re all excellent sources to equip your office on the cheap.
Innovation is the key to your company’s survival. It is an imperative and it must be an integral part of your organization. Innovation — it must be encoded in your corporate DNA. One of the most important parts in your innovation process is having an up to snuff new product development process. A formalized New Product Development with prakat.com process is essential. Although alternative approaches exist the most common type is referred to as the Stage-Gate® Process (Stage-Gate ® is a registered trademark of Product Development Institute Inc.). The Stage-Gate innovation process is, according to its developers, ‘‘a carefully designed business process’’ and the result of comprehensive research into under- standing the reasons behind product success and failure (see www.stage-gate.com for more information). The process was pioneered by Dr. Robert G. Cooper and is widely used, and trusted, by companies around the world.
The process, in essence, has two key elements:
The ‘‘stage’’ refers to the critical activities that need to be undertaken at a particular stage of product development. This is a cross-business process, and requires balanced ownership by multiple functions. Stage content, in my experience, should be divided among all business functions—it is not purely a technology process.
The ‘‘gating’’ process involves ownership, decision makers, degree of flexibility, criteria, and prioritization. This includes a selection of ideas and concepts from the hopper.
Overall, it is important to note that the NPD process must be a cross-business function. Therefore, all business functions must be aware of the process. Communication of relevant information is essential. Key personnel should be involved in the go/no-go gating reviews.
As for the reviews, these should be shared internally. Further, metrics are essential to demonstrate progress and create/encourage momentum and internal enthusiasm. Establishment of a mix of input metrics (such as average time in each stage), and output metrics, such as the value of launched products, percentage of new product sales, and so on, provides a balanced scorecard for innovation. Additionally, a streamlined, or ‘‘express’’ version of the process can be utilized for line extensions, to accelerate progress. The key purpose of the NPD pipeline is to create a structured, transparent process that allows management of project groups, DeFazio explained. And the key elements include quality, capability, and capacity.
In terms of quality, the innovation team strives to select projects that, if successful, will deliver the best strategic outcome for the invested funds.
For capability, the process helps track how effectively an individual project is managed and allowed to progress.
Capacity refers to how the business manages and prioritizes resources supporting a portfolio of well managed (or ‘‘capable’’) projects.
Remember what I mentioned in previous posts: Fail fast, but fail cheap. The institution of a proper NPD process will enhance your idea-to-launch methodology. Gates with ‘‘teeth’’ will help go/kill decision making and prioritization, define the gatekeepers, and provide a systematic approach to gatekeeping behavior.
Further, portfolio management will be simplified and flexible enough to achieve the optimal balance and mix of products in the hopper. Success criteria at the gates will be concretized, and, ideally, a financial overlay will further help prioritize projects against available resources.
Most of us use wireless printers from blackbox-solutions.co.uk at home. Why worry about connecting your computer when you can print from anywhere? However, wired connections are typically faster, more reliable and far more secure, all of which are important in business environments, where printers are used more often and by more people at once. Wireless setups, on the other hand, are more flexible, along with being less expensive to deploy.
They are also compatible with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. In our increasingly mobile world, many businesses —particularly large enterprises —are choosing to install applications that allow mobile printing either by connecting the device to the printer or using a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. This is often referred to as cloud printing or mobile printing. Not all printers are compatible with this emerging technology, but it’s something to consider if you have a highly mobile-reliant workforce. Some office printers are also compatible with mobile-printing technologies such as Apple AirPrint, HP ePrint and Google Cloud Print, but that’s something you’ll need to verify.
If you’re solely printing simple business documents in plain text —spreadsheets, memos and letters —monochrome is probably fine. If you need to print graphics, custom logos or documents with charts and other visuals, you’ll want to go with a color printer. Monochrome printers still sell surprisingly well because they cut ongoing costs, but keep in mind that you’re likely stuck with the printer you choose for many years. If you need the ability to print color in the future, you’ll have to find another source.
One of the first things to consider when it comes to features is whether you need a single-function or multi-function printer (MFP). Just as it sounds, single-function printers do one thing: print documents. MFPs are capable of many other tasks, including scanning, copying, emailing and converting documents. Different models combine different features. MFPs are cost-effective because you avoid having to purchase multiple machines, and they take up less space. They help streamline document management and business workflow because you can fax, scan and email documents all from the same machine. However, they’re more expensive. And if one person is using the machine to print, for example, another employee will have to wait to send a fax, make a copy, etc.
Next, consider printing speed and volume, which have a significant impact on price. Generally, print speeds of less than 20 pages per minute (ppm) are too slow for office environments; speeds of 20 ppm to 40 ppm will suffice for most offices; and speeds above 40 ppm are ideal for high-volume use. Some of the most sophisticated machines reach 100 ppm, although this is far more than most small businesses need. Print volume can range from basic models that hold just 100 sheets in the tray and 250 in the cassette to MFPs that hold 500 sheets in the tray and 2,000 or more in two or more cassettes.
Most printer manufacturers offer multifunctional models from blackbox-solutions.co.uk that provide the capabilities of multiple machines in a single unit. These devices often include print, scan, copy and fax capabilities in the form of one all-inclusive machine. Originally marketed for home and small business users, many manufacturers now offer larger and more robust models for medium to large business use. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of a multifunction printer helps you make an informed decision when purchasing new equipment.
A multifunction printer like the ones from blackbox-solutions.co.uk offers the convenience of additional features you may not have purchased otherwise. For example, if you normally do not send or receive many fax messages, you may not have invested in a separate fax machine. However, a multifunctional printer that includes fax capabilities allows you to send or receive the occasional fax without an added expense. In addition, the ability to scan an image and then print that image using the same machine offers another level of convenience by saving you the time of walking to two separate devices.
Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of a multifunctional printer includes the space savings offered by the device. Rather than having to find space for a printer, a copier, a fax machine and a scanner, you can have the same functionality in a single machine. This space savings may benefit those trying to make the most of their home office space or those working with significant space constraints.
Another advantage of a multifunctional printer includes the cost savings of purchasing one device that performs multiple functions. Although the purchase price for an all-in-one printer may exceed that of a traditional printer, the overall cost typically remains less than purchasing multiple machines. Therefore, you can benefit from increased functionality without paying for each feature. In addition to the savings associated with the original purchase price, maintaining one device costs less than maintaining multiple devices.
Multifunction printers typically require one cord to power the entire device. Not only does this reduce cable congestion, it lowers the electricity required to run the device. This power savings also leads to increased cost savings.
The biggest disadvantage of a multifunctional device becomes apparent when a problem occurs. Due to the multifunctional nature of the device, a problem with the printer may cause all features to fail. For example, a problem with an ink or toner cartridge may prevent you from printing, copying and receiving faxes. Another disadvantage of a multifunctional printer includes the potential lack of quality or performance when compared to single function devices. For example, the fax machine on a multifunctional device may not offer the same features as those offered by a standalone fax machine.
Although ubiquitous in companies around the world, photocopiers are not one and the same. They may fulfill more or less the same task, yet it is important to assess your needs and get proper information to find a model which will match your expectations and at the same time be simple enough to operate. Besides, when you intend to buy a photocopier from blackbox-solutions.co.uk, it’s also crucial to consider other options such as renting or leasing, to make sure you get the best service at the right price. Most modern photocopiers are nowadays preferably referred to as multi-function printers (MFPs), as they’re able to carry out a wide range of tasks. There are so many different levels of sophistication that taking certain key notions into account is vital to improve your business efficiency when you buy a photocopier.
Ink-jet or laser?
Choosing laser or ink-jet technology depends on your volume requirements. When the price per page is an important consideration, laser machines are at the high end of the price range but are still the optimal option as they are well-adapted to large volumes of copies. When low volume colour documents are required, ink-jet MFPs are the best choice, even if the ink they use is more expensive than toner for laser printers.
Print quality and speed
Speed is generally the most important feature for many businesses. Typically, mid-range machines will provide speeds of between 25 and 50 pages per minute for A4 paper. For companies which need mostly black and white copies, some models are faster in that mode than in colour. Print quality, or resolution, is also an important issue. Most machines offer resolution in the 600-1200 dpi range, which is perfect for internal use or simple flyers and user manuals. For high quality brochures and marketing material, you may need to buy a photocopier able to reach 2400 dpi.
Manufacturers have taken steps to make their products as user-friendly as possible, and even offer on-site training sessions and hotlines. Network capabilities are essential in most modern offices, to integrate your MFP in the company’s infrastructure. Paper capacity must be carefully considered when you buy a photocopier. Needing to refill the paper tray too often may have an adverse effect on your workflow. High-capacity or multiple paper trays for different paper weights or types will ensure your printer is always ready. Likewise, a variety of finishing tools such as staplers or document folders.
Assessing your needs to pinpoint your budget is of paramount importance, as prices range from £100 to more than £17,000. However, there’s more than just the capital cost to consider, as on the long run the price per page, depending on your printing volume, will represent most of your expenses.
According to your needs and the volume of documents you need to process, permanent purchase may not be the best option. Second hand machines or buying online may also be interesting ways to save money.
Buying a photocopier online
When you want to buy a photocopier, going online is always a good idea, to compare prices, understand the various models’ specificities and benefit from cheaper prices thanks to cheaper overheads. You’ll easily find retailers specializing in monochrome, multifunction or colour photocopiers for instance. You will also be able to negotiate good service rates.
Renting and leasing
Lease purchase or rental will allow you to spread the cost of your photocopier from blackbox-solutions.co.uk over several monthly fees, while guaranteeing your peace of mind as servicing and maintenance are often included in rental or lease contracts. That way, you’ll pay the best price for all your copying needs.
Even if you have only carried out a small amount of research, you will have discovered that the office printer market is full to bursting with different varieties and features. Knowing what to choose will require a good evaluation of your business printing needs, both now and projected for the future. Essentially you have stand-alone or multifunction printers, with inkjet or laser jet varieties with companies like blackbox-solutions.co.uk.
Stand-alone office printer choices
Here we are going to focus on the stand-alone printer, a stalwart of the print industry, but which may have been overlooked in recent years with the drive towards multifunction capability. Many businesses would greatly benefit from buying or leasing a stand-alone machine, and with all of the UKs leading manufacturers, such as HP, Kyocera and Canon, producing high quality and affordable office printers, now is the time to reevaluate and look at the benefits with blackbox-solutions.co.uk. The most important choice you have is between stand-alone or multifunction business printers. Once you have decided on this you can look further into inkjet verses laser printing, whether you would prefer a wireless printer and what features are essential, such as duplex printing or paper size compatibility.
Advantages of these printers for office use
This type of business printer should be the central powerhouse for all your office printing needs:
- Costs work out far less per sheet, both for mono and colour printing.
- Unrivalled black and white print speeds.
- These office printers really excel in producing high resolution printing at optimum speeds. Many machines will have the option of printing at different resolutions, so simple black and white documents can be printed at the very fastest ppm. Want high resolution full colour printing? You can have that as well, with only a small drop in ppm.
- Robust and durable. If you buy a stand-alone device you can rest assured that it will stand up to even the toughest office environment.
- Printer can be used just for its purpose, printing. This means that employees won’t hold up important print jobs with scanning, fax etc.
- Print in different sizes, alignments and paper thicknesses.
- Set your office printer to complete binding and sorting tasks.
- Large paper capacity (with multiple trays) saves on constant refilling and the hassle of paused print jobs.
So for the best quality printing and the speediest turnaround times, consider these printing devices to revolutionise your printing operations with blackbox-solutions.co.uk.