August 1, 2019

How To Optimize Your Office’s Document Workflow

Strategies & Tips

Three Steps To Optimize Your Office's Document Flow

Without a doubt, online chat and email is the standard when it comes to office communication, but physical documents will always have their role at any organization, large or small. Whether it’s training packets for new hires, a weekly office memo that gets posted on the wall throughout the office, to simple meeting printouts for taking notes on a presentation, paper will have its uses even with the trend of going paperless. However, while electronic communication has helped office efficiency in a lot of ways, it has also taken away focus for physical means, especially printing. This leaves many organizations open to problems that may seem like a thing of the past, but can still plague productivity and efficiency all the same.  We’re talking about inefficient and risky document flow, from lost time due to faulty or unmaintained equipment, to being oblivious to what kind of sensitive company information is being printed and handed out freely. The good news is that there are a few straightforward steps that you can take to get your company’s document flow under control in no time. 

Step 1: Identify The Problem

While it may not be something that has been on your list of top concerns, the path to improving your company’s daily operations is sitting down and taking a look at printing practices within your organization. To do this, you have a couple of options. The quick and easy solution would be to put together a survey that you can distribute, or you can even just hold a quick meeting if you have a smaller staff. Focus on asking questions about printing habits and needs, so you can get a clear picture of how documents are flowing through your organization.  For a more detailed, long term solution or if your company is on the bigger side, you can adopt a printing management system, which will integrate into your company’s existing printing structure and will allow you to gather data such as which specific employees print the most or even see screenshots of the documents that are being printed. With a management software at your fingertips, you could discover even more areas of improvement in your printing infrastructure that you first set out to find. However, keep in mind that setting up that kind of system will take time and resources, and the value that it can provide will vary depending on the size of your company, how your printing infrastructure is set up, and the kind of problems that you’re looking to tackle. 

Step 2: Setting Up An Environment For Efficiency

No matter which direction you decide to take on step one, you should now have a clear idea of what the problem is. Unfortunately, step two has the potential to be the most challenging of the three, because optimizing printing practices can range between simple, fixable hardware issues, to deeply rooted employee habits. However, no matter what kind of problem you’re looking at making changes now will help set you and your team up for more productivity and success in the long run. While we don’t know exactly what problems you’ll face, we can take a look at some of the most common problems and how you can make adjustments to smooth out your company’s daily printing tasks. 

Hardware Breakdown, Maintenance, & More

Printer breakdowns always seem to happen at the worst times to the point where it feels as if was karma or just bad luck that caused. The truth is, printer breakdowns just happen since, at the end of the day, it’s a piece that hardware that has numerous internal components that are slowly but surely getting worn down. While sometimes breakdowns do just happen, many can be prevented with proper maintenance. For example, companies like JMD International provide regularly scheduled maintenance on printers by opening them up, fixing or replacing any worn components, cleaning any loose debris that may cause problems like jamming, and test it to make sure that it is at peak performance. In addition to less downtime, the maintenance often costs less overall than the repairs if you wait for a big breakdown.  The same idea applies to things like toner or ink cartridges. You have to remember that ink and toner will run out, so instead of waiting for it to run out before you go out and get a new one, keep your office stocked with some replacement cartridges for a quick switch the moment the old ones hit empty.  The more your work to plan ahead and be prepared, the things that used to be frustrating and sometimes work-halting problems become insignificant. 

Curbing Bad Printing Habits

From making too many copies of meeting printouts and printing documents that could have just been sent over email, to having all of your employees backing up the printing queue on the same day or even printing out sensitive company information without your knowledge, the list of possible problems in this category can go on and on.  To solve these problems, it really just comes down to managing your team more closely and making sure they’re held accountable for their bad printing habits. However, it’s crucial to remember that you need to motivate them to actually make those positive changes by explaining how those changes will benefit themselves, their coworkers, and the company as a whole. Things can be a bit easier if you have access to a printing management system, since you will often have the ability to set permissions when it comes to printing, such as limiting the number of pages any given person can print during a week, requiring approval from you or senior staff to print, or revoking printing privileges altogether if necessary. 

Step 3: Monitoring & Managing

This final step is more of just a follow up after step 2, since making sure that those new organizational changes stick and that the old problems don’t arise again requires vigilance. Stay on top of your team's printing habits or just use the printing management system to create a clear set of rules to keep things in check. At the same time, you can always go right back to step one, taking a moment and examining printing practices and seeing if there are any places to improve. As long as you keep printing in mind and don’t let it just sit on the back burner as something that isn’t as important in this digital age, you’ll never be caught off guard by the printing issues that do arise if you haven’t already prevented them. 

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