Criteria for Selection of Office Machines
The office machines and equipment industry has come a long way not in terms of time but of changes and development. Particularly for the past 10 years, a large variety of sophisticated machines made by different manufacturers appeared, in the office scene and the process in fact are endless. Hence, the task of the office manager has become very complex. He should not come to any abrupt conclusion and he must be guided by certain factors or principles in arriving at a decision.
Generally the following ten factors should be considered by the office manager while arriving at a decision.
1. Office Requirements
The office manager should first ascertain whether the particular machine is actually needed or not. He should not decide to install a particular machine only because it is being used in other offices. He should examine the whole situation and form a rational judgement.
Before taking any step towards the purchase of a machine, there should be a complete and exhaustive examination. He should examine the whole situation and form a rational judgement.
2. Cost Factor
The cost of the machine is another important factor, which needs a careful consideration. He should consider the savings, which might be achieved by introducing the proposed machine.
Technological improvement is very fast and the obsolescence factor on office machine is very high. Due to this difficulty; Leffingwell says that
when a particular machine is purchased to save labour, the total pay roll saving should be sufficient to pay for the machine in one year, even if the life of the machine is longer than that period.
This is because either the operation or the machine itself may change or be superseded in that length of time.
It should be borne in mind that money spent in the purchase of an office machine is a capital investment meant for long-term use. The machine can earn money only if it is kept busy. Therefore the machine must be durable i.e. long standing. Otherwise, it would be a faulty investment.
Generally, cheaper machines are less durable and require frequent repairs. To ascertain the durability of a particular brand, the manager may ask other firms now using the particular equipment. If their reply or opinion is found satisfactory, he can purchase that particular machine.
Some manufacturers today offer free maintenance of their machines during the warranty period ranging from six months to two years. This is also an important consideration while choosing a machine.
4. Operating Costs
Operating costs include cost of supplies, cost of repairs and maintenance, rental value of space occupied etc. A machine whose operating costs are less as compared to the other machines should be preferred.
5. Availability of Spares
Continuous performance of a machine demands its repair and replacement of certain parts at regular intervals. If the spares required for the machine are not available easily in times of need, it is preferable not to purchase that machine, even if the machine is comparatively cheaper than other machines available in the market.
If the machine breaks down, and cannot be repaired due to lack of spares, the office staff will suffer a lot. An idle machine is a waste of money. A machine, which is serviceable without loss of time alone, shall be considered as a successful investment.
6. Flexibility of Use
A machine, which can be used, effectively for many types of operations should be preferred in comparison to a specialized machine. However, the purchase of a specialized machine is justifiable if there is sufficient workload to keep the machine always busy.
There are many advantages of a portable machine. It can be moved from user to user and place to place. It is also easy to handle a portable machine. Bearing this factor in mind, many manufacturers have reduced the size and weight of their makes by using alternative materials without reducing their quality and usage.
8. Effect on Personnel Requirements
The management before installing any machine for their office, which will lead to retrenchment of the existing employees, should first find out the ways and means of providing alternative employment in the firm itself. If there is no chance to absorb them in the firm itself, it is better to postpone the decision. This is because the surplus employees will pose a problem to the management.
Unwanted labour troubles shall be created. Even the Government will support their stand. If there were chances for accommodating the surplus in other operations, they would be given proper training well in advance.
9. Aesthetic Value
The machine should be pleasing in design and colour. This will impress the outsiders who visit the office and improve the image of the firm in their minds. Besides, it will also increase the morale of the office staff.
10. Improvement in the Quality of Work
There should be a qualitative change in the office work whenever a new machine is introduced in the place of manual operations or an old machine. When a machine replaces a manual operation, it should lead to greater accuracy of results and better appearance and format of results. When a new machine is installed in the place of an old machine, the new machine should have some added feature, such as higher speed of work, more information, greater accuracy etc.
When are office machines economical?
All the machines are not economical. Today, the purchase of office machines has in fact been dominated by the demands of fashion, the necessity of appearing modem and up-to-date. As such, most offices have more machines than they actually need.
Moreover, it should be remembered that the obsolescence factor on office machines is very high because of the rapid changes and improvements in science and technology. These factors often make the use of machine uneconomical.
Hence, the office manager should be very cautious in selecting a machine for use in his office. Investment in machines cannot be justified unless their use results in economy and a cost reduction. An office machines shall be considered economical when –
1. There is enough workload in the office to keep the machines constantly employed.
2. The machine achieves a considerable savings in time and labour.
3. The reduction of the annual salaries and overhead costs exceeds the cost of the operation of the machine.
4. The type and quality of the work produced by the machine is superior to manual work.
5. The machine brings out accurate information and eliminates all costly mistakes and chances for fraud.
6. The machine is adaptable and flexible in use i.e. it may be used to carry out a number of operations for more than one department.
7. The operation and maintenance cost is minimum.
8. Facilities like after sale services, maintenance of the machines are available at a reasonable cost.
These are the general factors, which may affect the selection and purchase of any office machine or equipment. If the above conditions are satisfied, a machine can be purchased. But, in addition to these there are also other factors, which govern the purchase decision.
If the use of an office machine causes unemployment of existing office staff, it should not be installed though economical in use. Likewise, an office machine may be acquired though not economical but is indispensable for accuracy of work and minimization of chances of fraud.