Other Innovation in Academic Programs and Services News

Finding efficiencies with print optimization

by James Pepler

How many printing devices do you think a department or unit has? Take that number and double it to get closer to the right answer. 

Near the end of the second integrated planning cycle, the U of S implemented a program called the Service and Process Enhancement Project (SPEP). SPEP scoured the university to find efficiencies and explore potential cost-saving initiatives. From the long list of possibilities, printing optimization ascended to the top. 

Acting Director of Consumer Services Martin Gonzalez De Souza, is responsible for helping implement the system and explains that printing optimization is “definitely the direction a lot of universities are going.” The Universities of Calgary, Manitoba and Alberta, along with a few other comparator institutions, are all looking at printing optimization for cost savings. For some, like the U of M, this decision comes out of having its own SPEP initiatives.

The process of printing optimization begins with an assessment, explained De Souza. A contracted analyst teams up with an IT employee from the college or unit being optimized to catalogue every printing device on the premises. Even dated printers including those no longer operational are counted. Once all the data is collected, a report is created detailing the current situation and a reduction plan is implemented.  

But printers are coveted pieces of hardware and giving one up can be a tough pill to swallow. De Souza describes it as “a big culture shift,” but there are many benefits to this system.

Reducing the number of printers on campus and using more efficient equipment will encourage staff to better plan for printing and reduce cost per copy, he said. There is also a hidden benefit; walking a bit further to a centrally located printer is a valuable form of exercise that supports a healthy work environment. 

Several colleges and department that have undergone optimization are already seeing savings. Director of Advancement Services James Johannesson has indicated that Advancement will be seeing a savings of approximately $7,000 from the reduction in capital costs, replacements and maintenance. 

“At an institutional level, printing optimization makes sense”, said Gonzalez. In addition to University Advancement and Consumer Services the Colleges of Dentistry, Law, and Agriculture and Bioresources have all opted for printing optimization. “Every dollar should count (and) if you start adding up the whole campus, that’s where the significant savings are.”