The University of Nottingham is set to save at least 25 percent on its £1.5 million to £2 million annual printing costs by centralising the management of its printing estate, under a £9.2 million managed services deal with Xerox.
The five year contract will also allow the University to reduce the amount of paper it prints, which is currently up to 80 million sheets a year, by some 30 to 40 percent.
Computerworld UK spoke to Jim Reed, the University's director of procurement, who explained that by replacing 3,700 devices with 500 multifunction devices (MFDs) and 200 desktop printers, Nottingham's staff will be able to better manage their printing requirements.
"We currently have a whole bunch of devices, copiers and personal printers, all on single contracts, on all the time, firing up huge amounts of ink-jet ink, and consuming lots of power. We are moving to MFDs on a single contract, which are all managed centrally, and all the paper and toner is from a single provider and provided on demand," said Reed.
"With 90 buildings and 7,000 staff, you can imagine the stock piling that has taken place - it's colossal. This contract is all about just-in-time consumables, a reduction in paper, achieving economies of scale and reducing our output."
Reed explained that the University will be able to reduce 10 percent of its paper output simply by deleting printing jobs that people forget to collect, through the use of swipe card technology.
"One of the things that we have identified is that a huge number of people send something to print and then go home or forget that they need it, which means that paper had been left sitting on printers without being picked up," he said.
"There is now a setting on the Xerox machines, where the machine prints a job when a member of staff swipes their identity card. So the machine is now able to recognise if you don't pick up the paper and deletes the job on the system."
He added: "At the moment this is running at 10 percent, which means that 10 percent of the printing that is being sent to the machines is actually being deleted."
The University began removing its legacy machines last week, the start of a project that is likely to last until July/August of this year. However, Reed explained that the 'crux of the complexity' was during the procurement phase, where he carried out a comprehensive audit of the University's print estate.
"The project probably took a year to tender because we spent an awful lot of time checking every last printer. We had software installed on every PC, which measured what was being printed, and we did a foot walk to catch every printer in the University," said Reed.
"We did this monitoring for about three months and we found examples of where printers had been in place for five years and had only printed about 500 sheets over that period, while other printers had done 10,000 sheets in the last year."
He added: "Until you know this detail exactly, it's tricky to dimension the project. We didn't go out to tender until we knew exactly what people were using. This allowed us to collate a huge set of requirements, because we thought if we went to market with a decent check list, we will get a decent answer back. And we have. It made it easier for us to select a supplier."
By managing the entire printing estate centrally, over the University's network, Reed was also able to introduce mobile printing for users and other functionality benefits - something Reed said was key in persuading staff of the migration.
"The University swipe cards mean that a user can now print to an MFD from home, and then can go onto campus, go into any building, swipe their card and pick up their printing before going into a meeting," explained Reed.
"We are starting to do that for mobile devices as well. So, I can print from my Blackberry to a printer and then go and pick it up. I can then scan the document back in, which is instantly emailed to me, and forward it to a supplier."
He added: "So now we have got printing from anywhere on campus to any MFD, from home to any MFD, and from mobile to any MFD. This means when people ask: Why are you taking my printer away? We can say, well you might have to walk twenty feet, but the functionality is so much better."
Reed said that this was the toughest part in achieving success with the project - getting approval from the staff who are used to using a printer on their desks.
He said: "The people aspect has been the hardest. People view a printer as a personal item, as it sits on their desk and they control it. Most people view it as you taking away something that is theirs, but we got around this due to the improvement in functionality.
"This is why a lot of universities are watching us right now, because they couldn't make that part of the project happen. The academics in their institutions said: you are not taking my printer, I'm keeping it."
He added: "The only way to deal with that is a massive communication effort, terrific support from the management, and providing them with a better answer in terms of functionality."
Computerworld UK previously reported how the University of Nottingham boosted its IT security with an analytics service from HP.
HP Security Analytics collects qualitative process information and quantitative data for a business-aligned view of the university's information security. An evidence-based threat and risk analysis enables the university to align its security initiatives in response to business goals and risks.