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Lessons to be Learned in Print Management

February 9, 2015
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By Tatsuo Murakami, MD RISO UK 

Tatsuo Murakami 2The importance of print in education cannot be underestimated. From school newsletters and updates to parents and guardians, to lesson worksheets and learning aids, printed materials will remain a part of the everyday running of a school.

As RISO has more than 20 years of experience working within the education sector and is an approved supplier to the National Association of School Business Management, it knows that a typical primary school, of around 350 pupils and 30 staff, prints more than 500,000 items a year.

This figure is increased dramatically at secondary schools, some of which can print in excess of 3.5 million items annually. The cost of printers and ink, and time, can rocket skywards if not properly measured and managed.It is also interesting to note that some schools, even those with new buildings and processes, still do not have easy access to information about who prints what, when and how.

As print is essential, and so too colour printing, which enhances learning and improves pupil engagement, just how do school business managers save money yet maintain, or improve, their print process?

Research shows that primary schools could save an average of between £1,500 and £3,500 and secondary schools could be saving anything up to £40,000 a year.

For the school business manager, who can sometimes have responsibility across multi-site locations, that represents a massive saving that can ensure the school’s overall budget is better used and taxpayer money spent more effectively.

This is not necessarily the fault of the school; as they are focused on the day-to-to education of pupils, they simply do not have time to look into new and innovative printing and copying methods or be given proposals that, on the surface, can all seem very similar.

But printing is most certainly an area where schools could take control and reduce costs. There are a number of things schools can do, such as having a centralised printer rather than one in each classroom, or utilising the software that allows for better print management and budgetary control.

The first action that should be taken is to fully audit the print process within a setting to examine costs and take action where savings could be made. That audit has to be holistic and examine the total return on investment.

As an example. there may be short-term savings to be had by choosing a specific option, but does that route offer long-term savings in cost and efficiency? A cheaper print device may look good on the balance sheet initially, but will it keep breaking down and will it be able to handle the constant demand year after year?

Not only will a school be able to highlight inefficiencies such as wasteful printing, cartridge spend, and paper use, an audit will flag up where time is wasted in everything from repairing malfunctioning devices to replenishing toner stocks and printing materials that may not actually be needed.

Simple things such as using more efficient, and reliable machines that offer cost-effective colour printing at high speed, along with using print management software will help schools to reduce their bills. Faster machines can also improve productivity freeing up staff time for important teaching tasks.

And with staff recognizing that using more colour in classroom materials helps engage pupils, schools should choose the print solution that allows them the flexibility to print in colour, cost-effectively, when needed. They should ask successful schools and colleges or organisations likethe National Association of School Business Management, for advice.

All too often, paper jams, running out of ink and slow printers cause major headaches and impact on staff morale and efficiency. A print solution that works better for everyone should be a priority.

Some schools outsource their printing, but is this the right way? With the right product, money can be saved merely by printing in-house.

One school that carried out an audit was Cheam Fields Primary School in Cheam, Surrey.

School bursar Nicky Gilhespy said: “We carried out an audit of our printing resource and realised that not only could we cut costs but we could produce more items and in colour, which can be an aid to learning. I would advise any school to really examine their print requirements with an independent audit.”

But it is not all about the RISO. For example, following an audit of processes and hardware at Southend High School for Boys, the school now has a fleet of RISO devices but it also has local, desktop printers for a select number of staff who feel that they need them.

These two examples highlight the fact that no two schools are the same and that a bespoke approach to print requirements is needed. Only a robust audit can lead to the ideal solution for individual schools being developed, helping them control their print costs and work more efficiently.

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