5 easy ways to streamline your business

IT consultancy - How to streamline your operations

Running a business can be difficult, particularly when it goes through a rapid growth phase. As a business owner, you may be feeling overwhelmed, overworked or just not as efficient as you know you could be. To remain competitive, businesses must boost operational efficiency, this is especially true in the SME market where organisations may have more limited resources. Efficiencies can be gained in a number of places, but here are five areas to start with.

1. Reduce paper usage

Reviewing your paper consumption and usage is often one of the quickest ways to streamline your business. Paperwork can quickly pile up and increase waiting times – internally and externally. Trace the paper trail and ask key employees:

  • What information do you add to the paperwork and why is it needed?
  • What information do you take from the paperwork and why do you need it?
  • Why is this paperwork important for your job?

You may find that while the information is necessary, individuals do not necessarily need to have paper copies. One way to address this would be to look at document management solutions that would allow you to make the move to start digitising information.

Document management solutions can help your business to operate more efficiently by putting documents at employees’ fingertips instantly and providing an easy way to categorise, store and organise documents. With the right solution, you will be able to scan documents in a matter of seconds, and use workflows to automatically route that document to the right folder or person. When choosing a solution some of the things you will want to look for include: being able to create customised workflows that fit your business operations, easily search scanned documents and assign access levels by employee role.

File cabinets and storages boxes can also take up valuable office space – or even be an additional expense if you require offsite storage. So you should look at using a document management system for the long-term storage and retrieval of documents. Not only will this save floor space, but could prevent staff from having to make trips to and from your offsite storage to retrieve documents – saving you both time and money.

2. Outsource

Businesses of all sizes can benefit from outsourcing, whether that’s choosing to outsource their finance and IT support or HR and marketing. There are a number of ways your company can benefit from outsourcing. When done correctly it can help your business to run more efficiently and reduce costs. For example, outsourcing tasks will allow you to focus on business growth, without sacrificing quality and service in the back office.

For small businesses outsourcing can help ensure certain tasks (such as billing) are performed at a consistent and affordable rate. It can also help reign in the spiralling operational costs of certain departments in larger organisations. If you suspect there is an area of your business that could be more efficient, scope the requirement and desired outcomes, and investigate potential options.

3. Automate repetitive tasks

Does your business have a lot of time-consuming tasks which need to be performed on a regular basis? Do you have to use multiple systems to complete single tasks? Look to see whether these tasks could be consolidated, so they can be performed with a couple of clicks. See whether you can use workflows to automate processes, freeing up your staff to focus on higher-value tasks. One example could be billing emails. If you send regular reminders to customers about direct debits or upcoming payment dates automating this process could save you hours.

4. Develop a long-term technology plan

Replacing outdated or ineffective hardware can majorly impact your employees’ productivity. You can minimise or reduce these disruptions by planning for the long term. You should determine your short and long-term business objectives, and map where technology solutions can help you achieve these.

5. Reduce unnecessary travel time

While face to face meetings are an important part of a business, they are not necessary for every situation. Particularly where you might have customers spread across the country or even the globe. Time spent travelling is typically less productive, and any time saved can be spent on higher-value tasks.

Nowadays it is straightforward to talk face-to-face virtually with video conferencing and collaborate via screen and application sharing using systems such as Skype for Business. Of course, the price points do vary so mapping technologies to their correct applications are crucial. Additionally any out of the office training seminars, conferences or exhibitions should be reviewed on a cost-benefit basis. This is not to say you should stop employees from attending these events – as they can deliver high value. Just ensure you’re choosing ones that will help your employees meet their objectives.

These five areas are just a starting point there are many other things you can go on to consider. You can also review software, recruitment, remote working, mobile access and communications. Remember to evaluate the impact each area will have on your bottom line and how it will impact your employees, suppliers, business partners and your customers. If you commit to taking the time to streamline your business operations, you will see the results take shape.

Discover how to reduce IT costs and get a better return from your spend. Click here to find out more about QuoStar's Cost Recovery and Value Enhancement Audit

In the press: How to secure your office printer

Originally published in Finance Digest

Security is a prime concern for the financial services industry. Not only are they under ever-increasing levels of regulation but news of data breaches is appearing more frequently every day. Many firms will be aware of basic security measures such as firewalls and anti-virus protection, one area they may not consider is the office printer.

how to make your office printer more secureJames Stelfox, Managing Director of QuoStar, discusses the ways the office printer can put firms’ confidential data at risk. From simple things such as leaving sensitive documents sitting on the output tray to hackers intercepting print jobs as they travel from a computer to the printer.

Although the office printer can pose a risk there are many simple solutions that can easily increase their security levels.

Click here to read the article in full on Finance Digest

How to choose the right document solutions provider

how to choose the right documents solutions provider

Managed print and document solutions can bring a wealth of benefits, including increased employee productivity and efficiency, the ability to maximise billable hours, and greater document and data security. But in order to truly harness these benefits and enhance your operations, you need to choose the right print and document solutions partner.

Many companies will feel under pressure to simply pick the lowest cost option, or are blinded by a dazzling list of benefits which seem impressive on paper, but in reality, don’t quite deliver after installation. This why it’s critical to do your research, to ensure you’re choosing a solution that delivers a return on your investment, beyond simply the cost per print.

How to choose a solution that suits

The Installation Process

If planned and executed correctly, the impact of installation on day-to-day management and activity should be insignificant. If the print and document solution takes days to install and is difficult to integrate with your other applications, then it’s only going to have a negative impact. In the short-term, it’ll be costing your firm on the bottom line and will damage the end user’s perception of the solution. Inefficiencies will swallow up any potential returns in the long-run as users try to find a workaround for the solution.

How Does It Integrate?

If the platform will only integrate with a few pieces of third-party software then it’s going to be a struggle. Or it will become more of an expense in the long run. You want a solution that fits your needs and operations. Not one that you have to work around it, or which restricts future decisions. In order to truly integrate, you should be looking at firms who truly understand systems, and who can analyse your business and operations. You don’t want a provider who only looks at printer location and the cost per print. This is where so many traditional copier businesses fall down.


Your chosen print and document solution may integrate perfectly with your current infrastructure, but you don’t want it to affect software choices you make in the future. Otherwise, you could be left with an ineffective, cumbersome solution. Or have to pay out to start this whole costly process again. The right print and document solution should, as your IT infrastructure does, grow with you, allowing you to capitalise on new opportunities and changing markets.

Management & Long Term Planning

When most law firms receive a proposal from a print provider, the first things they will notice is a lower cost per click, due to standardisation, and a drop in paper consumption and waste. Whilst these are positives, there is only so much you can gain without further optimisation. You can achieve greater productivity and efficiency through scanning solutions, but this takes time, planning and ongoing management. Many print providers simply don’t have the knowledge to deliver this properly.

You need a provider who is in it for the long-haul, who will take the time to learn end-user trends and revisit the solution to see where they can change processes and automate staff functions. These are the areas which will make the solution completely bespoke and will enhance your margins. The provider needs to stage the solution, with every step optimised before progressing to the next. If a print company tries to deliver everything in one big project then something is probably not quite right.

Ask yourself, what do you want to achieve from this process? Do you just want to achieve quick wins? Or do you want to also optimise processes for ongoing operational and margin improvement? The answer to that question should give you an idea of what sort of providers you should be engaging with.

NEXT>> 9 ways law firms can reduce costs with managed document solutions

5 extra benefits of document solutions for law firms

5 benefits of managed document solutions

For the majority of law firms, documents are a critical part of day-to-day business. Hundreds of pages are scanned, copied, faxed and printed every single day. However, this doesn’t mean that document management has to be time-consuming, frustrating and expensive.

In our original blog post, we shared five benefits of managed document solutions with you, but the positives don’t stop there. With the right provider, print and document solutions can have a positive impact on all members of your firm – from Managing Partners through to administrative support staff and your IT team.

Extra benefits of managed document solutions

1. Complete Vision

With detailed reporting, you view statistics such as; who prints most often; the average size of print jobs; the number of grayscale and colour pages, and the type of print jobs. Reports can break down statistics by individual, department or office. Use this data to set effective workflow rules, such as restricting access based on cost, colour mode or size, or to set optimised print budgets to each department. Determine which devices are over or underutilised, whether cost-saving features are being used and which department should be paying the bills.

2. Make employees more efficient

Printing, scanning and copying can sometimes be a frustrating and time-consuming task – but it really doesn’t have to be. Managed document solutions simplify document handling procedures, so employees can complete once lengthy procedures in a few clicks. Devices can also be configured so employees can print from anywhere, from any device, so they can make the best use of their time.

3. Maximise billable hours

When your time is billable you can’t afford to waste a minute. Improved workflows, increased search capabilities and straightforward device interfaces help you make the most of your time. Ensuring it’s not wasted carrying out lengthy tasks. Managed print also makes cost recovery and billing easier. Solutions allow staff to easily assign costs for each job to a cost centre or matter code.

4. Consolidate hardware

An in-depth, personalised analysis of your current systems, by an experienced print and process analyst, will allow you to establish a practical ratio of device per number of employees, for typical floor action. You can reduce the total amount of hardware by finding more efficient options to meet the needs of groups of employees. For example, multifunction devices (MFD) allow printing, copying, scanning and faxing within one machine, combined with a standardised set-up.

Smart load-balancing will ensure that your devices have as long as life as possible. While traditional printer pooling simply sends the document to the first machine available and prints automatically, an intelligent solution will send the document to the server. The user can then release the document at any printer with their login details. If the user realises they actually need to print in colour, they simply need to sign out and sign back in to the correct device. The document will still be waiting in the queue ready to print.

5. Reduce waste

Think you’re being prepared by bulk-ordering toner, paper and ink? Think again. You will end up with stacks of resources gathering dusted and taking up space in the cupboard. Your toner has a use-by-date so your stock could go out of date before you even need it. Some managed solutions have an “auto-order capability” which will place an order for you when stocks start to run low. Others will also have a “phone home” capabilities which can notify an engineer when a device in need of maintenance.

9 ways law firms can reduce printing costs with MDS

9 ways to reduce printing costs with MDS

Do you know how much your firm spends on printing? It’s okay, most firms don’t. Even they think they do it’s pretty much guaranteed that their actual spend is a lot higher. After all, there’s a lot of hidden costs when it comes to print, which many people don’t consider.

Luckily it’s easy to transform this environment and straightforward to get started. MDS – or Managed Document Solutions – can help to not only reduce your print budget but help you to better understand and allocate it. Along the way you’ll also be improving processes for employees, increasing efficiency and helping your firm to become more productive.

1. Reduce the number of devices

Personal printers may seem like the cheaper option but they’re probably costing you a fortune in ink. Even worse, you have no way to track who’s spending what. Reduce the number of devices by migrating users over to larger multi-function devices (MFDs), which allows printing, scanning, copying and faxing within one machine and are also durable enough to meet the needs of several users. Less equipment means fewer costs and fewer problems.

2. Create a digital environment

How many boxes of documents do you keep in your offices? What about in your offsite storage? For some firms, it’s going to be in the thousands per year. Offsite storage is an overhead which is ever increasing, plus then you have to add on the transportation costs of sending employees back and forth to collect necessary documents and the time they lose doing that. Rules-based scanning and routeing make it easy to transform your paper documents into digital ones – increasing security and search capabilities while reducing ongoing storage costs. Clients, other law firms and even courts are now accepting digital files in place of hard copies – for some a digital copy is now expected as the norm.

3. Think before you print

How many times do you print a document just to proofread it and shred it? How many times do you print an article just to read it and bin it? How often do you print a file in colour, only to realise you need it in black and white? These seem like insignificant costs individually, but if everyone follows these practices then the costs soon mount up. Detailed reports and analysis will allow you to see exactly who’s been printing what. You can break these reports down by office, department or individual to see who should be footing the bill. Some solutions can also be configured to display popup notifications when employees try to print certain documents to remind them: “do you really need to print this document?”

4. Stop printing twice

It’s a common occurrence, you finalise a document, press print and then spot a spelling mistake on the first page. They’re no way you can hand this off to a client now, but never mind because you can just print it again. Usually, when you hit print, the document is sent and printed automatically at the device linked to your computer. With a “follow-me” solution documents are held in a virtual printer queue, and are only released when a user signs in to the device and hits print. If you realise you’ve made a mistake, simply sign and delete the document. You can also configure your device to automatically delete documents in the queue after a set time period.

5. Track the paper trail

Somewhere in your office is an employee who feels the need to print everything. You don’t know why and, more importantly, you don’t know who they are (so you can’t track them down and stop them). How much is this wasteful printing practice costing your firm? When people are aware of how much their printing costs, then the amount they print usually declines. Start tracking and analysing how much each individual is spending on printing, and share these reports with individuals.

6. Prevent colour printing

Colour is sometimes necessary but it doesn’t need to be a part of everything you print. You can’t rely on users to check that grayscale box every time they print, but you can rely on colour printing rules. Deny colour printing from certain applications, like email, automatically route jobs to a lower-cost colour printing or prevent certain employees from printing in colour altogether.

7. Convenient Printing

MFD’s can be just as convenient for users as personal printers. Centralised software means that users can print from any devices on the network, as their files and documents are stored on a server and are only released once they sign in at a device. Yet the device isn’t the only thing standing in the way of convenient printing, workflows are. Custom designed workflows will allow employees to complete their most laborious or recurrent processes in a matter of clicks, improving their day-to-day activities and reducing printer-related frustration.

8. Reduce calls to the help desk

The centralised software allows for easy maintenance, by letting administrators easily see what happening on every device on the network, with the need for site visits. You can remotely schedule your devices to undergo maintenance, all at the same time, and ensure that each one is running the latest software version, helping decrease costly downtime. The virtual printer queue also ensures that at least if one device is down and unusable, then employees can simply sign in at another and print from there.

9. Recover printing costs

Do you charge your clients for printing costs? So many of the old Managed Print outfits sell ‘cost recovery’ solutions and also claim firms can profit from print. Honestly, there are not many clients who will swallow this and it will generally reflect negatively on your firm. You can, however, use the technologies for understanding where you are printing, i.e. against particular matters and clients. This is useful and can potentially aid you to address costing and identify workflow and process changes to protect your margins. You should be looking to reduce print, not profit from it.

5 ways law firms can benefit from document solutions

5 benefits of managed document solutions

When law firms think about how they can optimise their IT environment, it’s doubtful they consider the impact printing has on their business. After all, it’s a basic, everyday task and it can be difficult to see how changing it will benefit the firm in any way?

Yet in a document-intensive business like law print is a likely area where you’re burning through your crucial resources of time, money and manpower. So how can using document solutions help prevent this, and what benefits does it bring?

5 ways document solutions can benefit your law firm

1. Lower IT spend

How often do you print something just to proof-read it and throw it away? What about printing a document in colour, only to realise you really needed it in black and white and having to print again? These may seem like small costs individually, but if everyone in the firm is doing this on a daily basis then it soon mounts up. Even if you think you know your costs, your actual spend is likely to be more. MPS providers will be able to identify several areas your firm will be able to optimise the budget, from eliminating unnecessary hardware to ongoing monitoring of the print environment and making more efficient use of resources. Centralised, web-based administration software provides you with a comprehensive view of your entire print fleet and surrounding processes, removing the need for time-consuming site visits to configure each device. You can remotely schedule maintenance and update software versions for all devices whenever you need to.

2. Greater document and data security

Documents left lying about on the printer represent huge potential for a data leak. Just imagine if they contained highly sensitive client data and were picked up by the wrong person? Solutions like “Follow-Me” printing will prevent this. Instead of documents printing automatically, users will have to sign in to the device to release their documents. Users won’t be able to access the print queue of anyone else. Also as only one individual can log into one machine at a time, it prevents print jobs from overlapping and documents mix-ups. These solutions are simple to implement and can utilise existing methods of building security. If employees already use a fob for building access, this can be configured as their printer access key. Additionally, the centralised software allows approved system administrators to view previously printed material in the printer log to check who’s been printing what.

3. Improved workflows

There are a vast amount of solutions which can make printing, scanning, copying and fax quicker and easier. The right provider will learn end-user trends to help you develop workflows and rules that really meet their needs. This will help them to complete day-to-day tasks in a more simple way. With rule-based systems you can automatically send documents to be stored in the right place, providing quick and user-friendly access. Printing rules can be configured based on document size, type or volume. Larger jobs, like court bundles, can automatically be sent to the most cost-effective machine. Automate time-consuming recurrent processes to free up your employees’ time and prevent annoying mistakes.

4. A manageable environment

A new firm-wide, software solution roll-out doesn’t have to cause frustration and ongoing problems for your employees. If handled correctly, the impact of installation on day-to-day management should be insignificant. Having a consistent, user-friendly interface across all devices not only reduces training time but means it will be unlikely that you will need to retrain employees if you bring in a new device or upgrade a current model. It also increases the end-user adoption rate as they don’t have to set aside time to understand a new system, improving the overall cohesion of the office.

5. Reduced storage costs

The majority of law firms will not only have documents in-house but will also have offsite storage as well. Imagine how much employees waste searching through boxes of files for that one important memo? Then add on the cost of transporting that employee back and forth between your offsite storage facility and the office. It’s not going to be a one-off occurrence, and time and money soon add up. Rules-based routeing and scanning allow you to easily convert your paper documents into digital files. This increases search capabilities, saves time, improves security and greatly reduces ongoing storage costs. With an intelligent managed solution you can scan bundles direct to court, reducing costly paper files transportation.

At the end of the day, these are just a fraction of the benefits documents solutions can deliver. An optimised solution, from the right provider, will bring true operational enhancement and positively impact your bottom line.