B.C. school district offers print management tips

IT shops looking to slash their printing costs need to be able to audit and limit staff printing jobs, according to a technology director at the Central Okanagan School District in B.C.

The school district, which serves 22,000 students and another 1,300 faculty staff, recently revamped its print management policies in the face of shrinking annual budgets and growing environmental pressures.

“We were printing 45 million copies per year to the tune of about $1 million,” said Jon Rever, director of instruction covering the K – 12 technology and education service portfolio for the school district.

After entering into a new managed print fleet contract in 2009, the school district tapped Plantation, Fla.-based Equitrac Corp. for its print management software. Equitrac, which has operates a software development office in Waterloo, Ont., provided software that can enable individual staff printing quotas and provide detailed auditing reports.

Rever said his goal after implementing the Equitrac product was to reduce total printed pages by 10 per cent among the district’s 1,300 faculty members. In its first full year at the school district, printing dropped 20 per cent and the IT department saved about $235,000.

“We gave every teacher $750 to do their printing for the year, which works out to 30,000 prints,” he said. “All of a sudden, there was an awareness when they pushed the print button.”

Rever added that the organization will continue to lower the printing budgets in the coming years.

The move to Equitrac also centralized the print services at each school, which allowed the organization to consolidate the amount of actual printing devices in use. It also allowed the school to track and generate reports on each staff members print jobs.

“It gave us the ability to identify individual users and hold them accountable,” Rever said, adding that prior to launching Equitrac’s product, the school district had no data into which users were printing large volumes of documents.

“We’ve configured the system to send out a monthly report to all principals at all the sites,” he said. “It comes by e-mail, they can open it up, see the users, jobs, number of pages and the cost. If they see a user that is way over the top, they can phone the central office and get a detailed report.”

Noel O’Dwyer, vice-president of marketing and strategic alliances with Equitrac, said the biggest contributor to cost reduction at a typical enterprise is education and change of behaviour among employees. But while setting printing limits and telling people about them will drive a certain level of change, he added, the ability for IT to get more insight into how many devices they own and how many pages are printed is also critical.

“Most companies have a good idea of what their printing costs are, but they don’t know why,” O’Dwyer said. “Knowing something and doing something about it is two different things.”

Creating a printing strategy that more efficiently allocates devices across an organization can only be achieved by centralizing print management and truly understanding usage needs, he added.

With the Equitrac product, O’Dwyer said, organizations can put rules in place for default black and white printing and track which documents are being printed and at what times. The product allows IT staff to generate over 100 different reporting templates for distribution to department heads or managers who want to keep their employee’s print jobs in check.

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