Perhaps more than any other type of organisation, schools face considerable challenges in cutting down on their dependence on paper and printing. When it comes to lesson resources, homework, administering tests and assessments, paper copies are often still the most straightforward and sure-fire way to ensure all the pupils in a class get what they need.
Whilst the arrival of laptops and tablets offers a digital alternative, they come with their own considerable price tag and logistical burdens. As every teacher and school administrator knows, the printer and copier remains an essential hub of school life. But keeping things working efficiently, not to mention controlling costs, presents a sizeable challenge.
So how do you manage print queues so they don’t get out of hand and ensure required resources make it to the classroom on time? How do you keep a lid on spiralling expenditure when, for many hard-pressed teachers, hitting the print button is often the path of least resistance?
Here are three possible solutions to consider.
The biggest battle most schools have with reducing print costs is cutting out unnecessary and waste printing. Ultimately, the best way to achieve this is through educating staff, but habits can be hard to change. Organisations therefore find that a nudge in the right direction in the form of monitoring print and copy use can have a significant effect.
It might just be a case of introducing a silent monitoring system, using reports as an incentive to change behaviour. You can use the results to show staff where waste and duplication has occurred. Or it might be better to introduce user authentication systems, with each staff member, student or department provided with an account that allows you to set quotas, either by volume, print type or by cost.
Another alternative that has proved useful in schools is to make use of Follow Me solutions. This stops the old problem of people resending jobs to another printer when they are in a rush and find a large queue, which often leads to wasteful duplication. Whichever solution is adopted, print controls can reduce expenditure by up to 40%.
Managed print services
The challenge of controlling print costs is a matter of managing equipment as well as user behaviour. When you are running a fleet of, say, 10-plus printers and copiers, keeping on top of maintenance and supplies becomes a sizeable job in itself. One fault, or one printer running out of toner at an inopportune time, can put serious stress on the rest of the fleet and cause major bottlenecks. When people are rushed and queues start to build because a printer is offline, that’s when mistakes and waste happen.
With a managed print service you pay a fixed price per printed page and get everything included – toner level monitoring and automated dispatch when it is running low, all service and repairs carried out by local engineers, dedicated support for any issues via a help desk or online. When you factor in the costs of downtime and inefficient use of other machines when one or more is offline, a managed service often delivers considerable value.
Even where schools have invested in the likes of laptops or tablets for their pupils, not all materials they need for lessons are available online or in digital format. Hard copies of books and other paper resources continue to be vital teaching and learning resources and the default position to share them with a class is to copy them.
The digital alternative is to scan a hard copy into a network, but what many schools struggle with is building file libraries and retrieval systems that are straightforward for staff, students and pupils to navigate. Having to name, describe and build pathways for new files takes time, especially for staff who are less confident with digital media.
With a scanning solution this can all be done for you. Fully embedded into your MFP, you can scan and digitise documents quickly and easily. Meta tags can be added automatically using information in the document, which can then be used for efficient storage and retreival. These integrate fully with common storage platforms such as Microsoft Sharepoint or Office 365.
To find out more about how Weaver & Bomford can help your school reduce your printing bills, please get in touch with our friendly team today.