Creating a Printing Consortium
Wright State University invested significantly in printing equipment only to see demand decline. That lead administrators to overhaul the Ohio institution’s entire printing system.
By switching to a variable pay-per-print model based on volume and relying on one supplier to manage all its equipment, Wright State is saving $750,000 per year. Sharing assets with two other universities in a consortium has further cut costs.
The institution’s vision is to be recognized globally as an innovative educational leader. Its immediate challenge is to become more innovative while simultaneously reducing costs across the board.
The efficiency drive began when administrators realized that, as of 2013, Wright State’s inventory of office printing assets consisted of 26 unique manufacturers and 676 unique models of desktop printer/copier/fax machines—65 percent of which were more than five years old and essentially obsolete. On top of that, 75 percent were dedicated to one particular computer, and, consequently, had lower reliability and higher support costs.
Officials innovated, seeking out colleges and universities in the region to form a consortium to share printing resources. Central State University and Clark State Community College immediately stepped up. After developing its vision and expectations—focused on quality, service and value—the consortium issued an RFP in search of a supplier to manage print in an enterprise manner on all three campuses.
After a comprehensive review, Xerox was selected and a contract signed to cover all networked devices for the next five years. In less than five months, the shared services production site was fully operational.
Now, says Polatajko, “we only pay for what we use.” And, he adds, “as the volume of business increases, the price to all existing partners declines. We all reap the benefit.” That will continue to be the case if the other colleges join the consortium, which looks likely.
The consortium’s main print production facility remains on the Wright State campus, which also relies on three local offset print houses for overflow work. A fleet makes regular deliveries to all three institutions.
With an annual budget of $4.16 million, the consortium expects to save $1.1 million annually through the optimization of technology, the simplified pricing structure and reducing the user-to-device ratio from 1:1 to 5:1. Already, the number of devices and models has shrunk considerably, from 26 manufacturers to two, and from 676 models to eight—further simplifying maintenance.
Consolidating the printing process also reduces the university’s print-related carbon footprint by 77 percent. In the end, improving efficiency benefits everyone. “Optimizing our resources helps to keep tuition affordable,” says Polatajko.