1) Understand and communicate your requirements
Decide on your requirements and what you want the new printer to be able to do. This is where having a dialogue with the suppliers as well as internally is useful. Often requirements can be driven by changes in technology that you may not even be aware of.
So for example if you didn’t know that a new copier could scan to DropBox you would never make it a requirement. By speaking with expert suppliers you will uncover features that may be new to you.
– Lease v purchase
Do you have a Capital Expenditure budget available for this printer or do you prefer to lease? There are Pro’s and Con’s either way so speak to suppliers and your accountant to determine the best option for your particular circumstances.
– Paper sizes
Do you need A4 only or is there a requirement for A3? It can be very annoying when you need occasional A3 for a spreadsheet or map and don’t have it available. If you have a reasonably heavy duty requirement. Always opt for an A3 capable machine.
What is your likely throughput?
Suppliers will be pitching in the dark unless you have a good idea of the capacity requirement of your printer. If you are an established business upgrading an old printer you should have historic usage figures based on invoices from the current supplier or if you don’t currently have a Managed print Solution -for example if you’ve got multiple small desktop printers you should be able to guesstimate based on the amount of printer paper you purchase in any given month.
If you are a new business this may be impossible so why not hire a printer on a short term basis until you have a feel for your requirement? Most established resellers have a pool of machines that they can utilise as a rental fleet for just such a situation.
– Print speed
Print speed requirement. This is connected with capacity and throughput above. Don’t get carried away demanding really high print speed if all of your prints are short runs of 1-5 pages. Speed to first print will be important if this is the case. Not the outright full speed.
– How many trays?
How many paper trays do you need? Most printers have universal paper trays but make sure you take in to account the inconvenience of constantly reloading different sizes or types of paper e.g plain, draft, presentation paper A3, A4, A5. Mainstream A3 office machines tend to have a minimum of 2 paper trays as standard (1 for A4 and 1 for A3) and have the option to add a 3rd or 4th tray as well.
2) Obtain and evaluate the proposals
So you have received multiple proposals based on your detailed requirements.
Now you need to evaluate the proposals you get. So what should you be looking for?
The following list is not exhaustive but should help you wade through your options and give you some tips to help you avoid the many pitfalls.