UBC saves $8 million, cuts paper waste by a quarter

The University of British Columbia estimates it will cut its paper waste by 26 per cent and save at least $8 million over the next six years with a new initiative for improved document management and print services across some of its departments.

The enterprise print services strategy, a $40-million, six-year project in partnership with Toronto-based Xerox Canada Inc., will focus on operating cost reduction, a continued commitment to sustainability, improvements to information management, and better customer service for delivery of large documents and equipment maintenance, said Pierre Ouillet, UBC’s vice-president of finance, resources and operations.

“Universities are about managing, delivering and producing information and knowledge,” said Ouillet.

With 19,000 employees on campus, UBC was already spending $18 million to 20 million a year on printing services, said Ouillet.

Phase 1 of the initiative, which started in January 2009 and is estimated to last about two years, will centre on printing management and establishing a platform for document management. Ouillet said that depending on contracts UBC has with equipment manufacturers, some devices (printers, faxes, copiers, etc.) will be immediately replaced with multifunction machines. Ouillet, himself, has three printers in his office including a colour, and a black and white. “That doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “Just moving from three to one, that’s the kind of immediate savings we are hoping to capture.”

The second and final phase will be digitization and document management. “We have so many documents on campus, whether it’s on the administration side like board documents, the legal operations team,” said Ouillet. “We have 400 buildings on campus, each of them has maps, plans, system information.”

Cost savings won’t be the sole benefit. The initiative is green, allowing UBC to cut its solid waste disposal, paper printouts, by an estimated minimum 26 per cent. Currently, the school disposes in excess of 150 million pages a year, said Ouillet.

It’s also estimated the university will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 727,000 pounds and energy use by 105 power distribution units.

The initiative basically covers the entire lifecycle of document management from storage, retrieval, archival to destruction, said Cornell Pereira, business development executive for Xerox Global services with Toronto-based Xerox Canada Inc.

“The key here in enterprise print management is to understand what an organization is currently doing, how much it’s costing them in terms in terms of finance, and what are the sustainability costs involved,” said Pereira.

The strategy follows a Lean Six Sigma-based approach, which relies on defining, analyzing, making recommendations, and essentially managing and controlling a future desired state, said Pereira.

Cary, North Carolina-based business intelligence vendor SAS Institute Inc. spoke at COP15, the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, last December about the role that IT can play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. Alyssa Farrell, marketing manager for SAS’s sustainability solutions group, said the move to reduce environmental footprint among Canadian organizations has traditionally been led by IT, manufacturing and consumer packaged goods. But recently, other verticals like insurance and banking are looking at the companies they insure or invest in, asking that they too be green and operate efficiently.

But Farrell said because climate change is not something measured quarterly, rather in decades and generations, organizations that want to make a difference must factor in data management and analytics in the business case.

Farrell explains that data management will help organizations deal with the plethora of data incoming from various sources like new buildings or new forms of transport, and analytics can help identify and measure related factors impacting a green strategy.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau