In 2007, the University of Regina was at a crossroads.
Customer complaints about photocopier and printer reliability, along with print quality and costs, were continuing to spiral out of control. The responsibility for photocopiers fell under printing services, which was financially responsible to Ancillary Services. Printers were each individually owned by the faculties and departments. End users were confused as to who was responsible and should be contacted for repairs, paper, and supplies for their devices. IT support (helpdesk) provided some support for the printers; the printing services’ vendor was called directly for the copiers (there was no tracking of service response or follow-up if a device had in fact been repaired; and supply orders were placed directly to an external stationery provider.
Printing Services provided the paper for the copier fleet – departments were charged an all-inclusive cost per page, but there was blatant misuse of this as departments used the “free” paper from Printing in their printers and drove the cost of the program up. In addition, the old card-based system used to administer and manage the copier fleet was well past its life cycle (it was purchased used from the University of Chicago in 1989) and also in need of replacement as most of the hardware and even the software were now obsolete.
Finally, the lease on the university’s fleet of 95 copiers was up for renewal.
Facing these challenges, I approached the university leadership to seek approval on striking a project to look at the broader picture (printers and copiers) as I suspected we had a very large number of devices on campus. Skeptical that a problem existed, I was granted a budget to move forward to first prove that there was an opportunity to improve the way the university viewed our print environment. An RFP was developed to find a manufacturer agnostic consultant to assess our print environment and provide these deliverables:
- Provide a strategy to improve end user satisfaction/productivity.
- Identify and quantify cost reduction opportunities.
- Develop a campus-wide print strategy.
- Review current asset management support.
- Assess environmental/“green” program.
- Document current security process.
- Benchmark. Identify best practices.
- Identify “not print” /automation opportunities.
- Generate a modeled target state.
Print Operations Group, a Calgary Canada based firm was chosen to conduct the assessment in the fourth quarter of 2008, and presented their findings in February 2009.
- There is no print strategy, governance, or policy around printing and copying devices.
- There is no, or limited, output fleet support program.
- Lack of technology standards (173 unique devices).
- Ratio of staff to output device (printer) is 1.2 to 1, or about 1200 devices.
- Distributed price is over double the industry average.
- “Green” sustainment/metrics program is missing.
- External security is OK. Risk is from the inside.
- U of R is not a “one size fits all” organization.
In the report, the consultant indicated that there was the potential to reduce expenditures related to print, but also to reduce electrical consumption, paper consumption, CO2 output, and landfill waste through the optimization of our print environment.
A second RFP was issued in September of 2009 to find an appropriate business partner that could help the university optimize our print environment through the development of a standard suite of devices and industry leading management software. In addition, we asked that the solution be able to address the following needs:
- Replace our card-based system.
- Provide multi-function capability (print, scan, fax, copy) in one device.
- Improve output quality.
- Improve device/print security and enable confidentiality.
- Provide capability for wireless printing (from laptops).
- Develop a solution that can be used by faculty, staff, and students.
- Provide end user reporting capability.
A Regina-based company, WBM, along with their strategic partner Lexmark, was chosen as the vendor to provide the hardware, while Papercut was chosen as the administrative software product. The combined solution met all the needs we identified, plus provided web print, print release, print from/scan to USB drive, scan to email, scan to network, and find me a printer capabilities. To address the security and tracking needs, we needed to ensure the system identified each user, whether they printed, copied, scanned, or faxed. This was accomplished by linking their current Novell Network credentials with Papercut. At the actual MFD, users initially were asked to login using the touch screen interface. This proved to be slow and sometimes cumbersome, so a proximity card system was quickly fitted to the devices. In addition to allowing users to login to the MFDs more rapidly, the cards can be used with our new door access system across campus.
WBM began a department-by-department optimization of 44 participating areas on campus, covering the entire spectrum of faculty and staff across campus in May of 2010. Meanwhile, a new policy governing the acquisition of printers, copiers, and multifunction devices was approved by the university leadership. The new policy put responsibility for the provision of all print-related devices under Printing Services on an all-inclusive cost-per-page program that included the device cost, toner, paper, and parts and labour for repairs. With the assistance of the helpdesk, a “one call gets it all” process was implemented for paper, toner, and repair orders.
A marketing plan was developed and implemented to raise awareness of the benefits of the project, and it was quickly realized that the green benefits would be huge, so much so, that University of Regina president Vianne Timmons has made a direct linkage of our project to the university’s strategic plan. The title of the strategic plan is mâmawohkamâtowin: Our Work, Our People, Our Communities (mâmawohkamâtowin is a Cree word meaning “co-operation; working together towards common goals”). Key objectives of the strategic plan are to make the university a leader in environmental responsibility and put sustainability at the core of our teaching, research, and campus life.
Five years later, after considerable growth on campus (from just under 11,000 full time equivalent students to over 14,000, with 2,667 faculty, staff, and sessionals) we are renewing our initial five-year contract with WBM. We have tracked our results thus far and have achieved the following :
- We have reduced the number of devices on campus from 1,196 to 675. In POG’s original assessment, approximately half the university took part in the assessment (permanent staff count of 616). There were 510 devices in those areas for a ratio of 1.2 people per device. Once we began the formal assessment with WBM, the scope of the project expanded to include the entire campus. The number of devices across campus was 1,196, and the total permanent staff count was approximately 1,200, bringing that ratio to an almost even 1 to 1. With our device count now reduced to 675 and a permanent staff count of 1,240, the ratio has improved to 1.84 people per device (our target was 3.3; Print Operation Group’s (POG) post-secondary average was 2.4).
- Our annual environmental impact is equally amazing for the entire campus:
- Reduced electrical consumption associated to printers by 9.6 percent.
- Reduced C02 emissions related to print by 27 percent.
- Reduced paper consumption by 22 percent by using a default duplex print setting and moving towards electronic documents.Our goal is to further reduce the number of devices on campus.
The Print Optimization Project has delivered far superior print quality and “one call gets it all” service. It has vastly improved and expanded functionality, significant cost savings – projected at over $4.3 million over 10 years, reduced electrical consumption, reduced CO2 emissions, and improved customer satisfaction.