Here’s your mini bar. Sat there, just a few feet away from the bed. It’s right there, waiting… There’s no need to call room service or go down to the bar. All you have to do is reach over, open the door and liberate that cool refreshing beverage. It’s Effortless. Hear that quiet humming? That’s the sound of bubbly goodness being gently cooled to perfect sipping temperature. Don’t worry about the cost, that’s for another time. Right now, all you need to focus on is quenching your thirst. Go on, enjoy….
Did you enjoy that delicious libation? Excellent. That will be two hundred and seven million dollars. Yes, of course we accept American Express.
If the mini bar has taught us anything, it’s that the quickest, easiest and most prominently presented option often comes with an outrageous price tag. Unfortunately, this is still the way fax is sold to those buying or leasing MFPs. In this article we show you how to select the right MFP fax option – not just the most convenient.
- MFP Fax Cards – Don’t do it. It’s a terrible idea and no one will forgive you. Ever.
- MFP Fax Connectors – The time share approach to MFP fax integration.
- Email-to-Fax for MFP Devices – The flexible option your MFP vendor will never recommend.
Contender #1: MFP Fax Cards
Let’s be clear, MFP fax cards are to Multi Function Print Devices what Crocs are to feet – super easy to get into but something no one in their right mind would do. Here’s why:
- MFP Fax cards are analog. That means if your business is using a digital telephone network, you’ll have to reintroduce an analog phone line for each MFP device. If you decided to go down this road, you’ll need one of these before proposing this to your I.T. team.
- The Cost. MFP fax cards range from $700 to $1,000 (each) and that’s before we include the ongoing costs below.
- Call charges. Your telecoms provider is going to charge you for calls just like they did back in the 90s.
- Click charges. In addition to paying the phone company for each fax call, the wonderful people who sold or leased you the MFPs will likely be billing you for each page you send or receive.
- Busy signals. MFP fax cards support one fax in or out at a time. Should anyone try to fax you while the line is in use, they’ll be magically transported to a bygone age where busy signals were as popular as two-way pagers.
So why do businesses continue to purchase MFP fax cards?
If you thought the MFP card was your only option – you’re not alone. Your MFP sales rep will be actively avoiding the introduction of other options for fear of prolonging the sales process. There’s also the small matter of their commission. Most reps only earn commission from selling hardware. A software-based solution might be right for you but it will likely be wrong for their bottom line.
Contender #2: MFP Fax Connectors
MFP Fax Connectors are software plug-ins for MFP devices. In this case the connector enables the MFP device to connect to a third party fax service or fax server. The MFP connector allows users to send and receive faxes using the device’s touch screen.
Here’s what you need to consider before committing to MFP connectors:
- Connectors are best suited to users who have an existing fax server or service.
- If you you have an existing fax environment – you’ll need to verify that the vendor has developed a connector that supports your platform.
- The user experience and reliability of connectors differ wildly from one MFP vendor to another. Rigorously test any connector you are considering.
- If you do not have an existing fax service or fax server – DO NOT purchase fax connectors.
- If you are considering changing your MFP provider – DO NOT purchase fax connectors.
- If your IT Team is not in favor of integrating and supporting another application – DO NOT purchase fax connectors.
- If your users are slow to learn new interfaces – DO NOT purchase fax connectors.
MFP fax connectors are an attractive proposition but are priced at a premium and lock you in for far too long. If your needs change, you will find yourself struggling to get out of a potentially complex and costly obligation. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Contender #3: Email-to-Fax for MFP Devices
Email-to-Fax for MFP Devices offer a similar approach to MFP connectors without the cost and commitment limitations. Rather than using a proprietary MFP fax connector, email-to-fax harnesses the MFP’s native email capability as a gateway to the fax service.
If your users can send an email, they can securely send a fax using the email-to-fax connector for MFPs. The same technology can also be deployed across desktop computers, laptops, tablets and phones, eliminating the need for additional fax technologies.
- A simple way to send and receive faxes using MFPs and other devices.
- TLS encryption makes email-to-fax one of the most secure ways to transmit documents.
- Fax notifications are always sent back to the MFP for printing.
- No proprietary software or complex deployments.
- Almost no learning curve for users.
- Zero MFP vendor dependence or contract commitments for fax.
How does email-to-fax for MFPs work?
- Before you can use email-to-fax with your MFP devices you will need a fax service. We recommend these guys.
- It takes a minute or two to set up each MFP’s email settings for email-to-fax. This only needs to be done once.
- Once set up, send a fax by selecting the scan-to-email option on the MFP device.
- Scan your document and enter email@example.com.
- Hit the large green button on the MFP.
- The fax is sent and the MFP prints out your the confirmation once it’s delivered.
Don’t be surprised if this approach to MFP faxing is new to you. MFP vendors will be quick to play-down or even dismiss this option, which is unsurprising given that it nets them zero additional revenue. Aside from the lack of revenue, the email-to-fax method is brand agnostic, allowing you to switch to a different MFP vendor without impacting your fax workflow or user experience. There may be some niche account control features incorporated into the vendor-specific MFP fax connectors but if those are not high on your requirements list, this minor trade-off if well worth it.
MFP fax cards are a poor proposition in almost every case. The only exception we can come up with would be for those who still have analog phone lines, do little-to-no faxing, and who find the prospect of setting up a basic email account utterly terrifying.
Fax connectors may make sense for those who are settled on their MFP brand for the long term and who don’t mind paying a significant premium for proprietary interfaces.
Call us biased but we firmly believe that harnessing your MFP’s email capability makes the most sense. The costs are far more attractive, you are in no way tied to your MFP vendor and unless you are looking for specific account control functions, you’ll get the capabilities you need.