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Self Service Print and Copy Best Practice Experience Gathering February to March 2010 In order to gain a greater appreciation of the implementation of a managed print system the group determined that in addition to supplier presentations, visits would be made to named Universities cited by the suppliers. The purpose was to discover first hand the issues and difficulties as well as the positive aspects which other Universities had encountered when changing from devolved printing into a streamlined system. The group looked to visit one university named by each supplier, however practicalities did not always allow for this. Should further information be required, further visits can be made during the procurement period when the suppliers have been narrowed down to 3/4 preferred suppliers. Individual reports follow at the end of this document. 1. Birmingham City College 2. Birmingham City University 3. Brighton University 4. Oaklands College, Welwyn Garden City 5. Worcester College of Technology Best Practice Summary Through an examination of the findings from the visits several issues are highlighted: It is paramount that the procurement procedure is thorough and that the supplier chosen can meet the needs of the University of Exeter both in terms of hardware and software provision. Thorough testing of operating systems prior to roll out/implementation is essential to ensure they are suitable for varying needs of the University. Staff resistance to change was encountered by some institutions and the project group need to ensure that our communication plan is robust and minimises any negativity. The operational structure for the new MPS will also be important in this respect – i.e. staff/students should know who to contact in the event of a problem and what service level to expect. The educational establishments visited operated a number of different operational structures for their MPS. The group should suggest a range of solutions for the board to determine – e.g. should key operators in each area be responsible for liaising with the supplier of behalf of client or should the client contact the university department through a designated phone number or email. Another important aspect which the project group and board must consider is the degree of control that they wish the University to retain. Networking with colleagues who have experience of a change to MPS in other institutions, has shown that individuals within the University must have a level of expertise regarding the system, software etc, in order to work in partnership with the supplier to deliver a seamless service to the client. It is also important to ensure that an excellent working relationship is developed between key University operatives and the nominated supplier so that any problems in the set up phase and thereafter can be managed promptly and efficiently. Some institutions, for example Worchester encountered problems due to the cost of equipment or applications. As a result they did not achieve the equipment or the service level they required. Each of the suppliers who presented to the University have agreed to deliver this as a nil cost project with all costs being calculated through a click per copy charge. It is important that the supplier bears this in mind at all times and that the University of Exeter is not constrained from implementing a fit to purpose MPS through monetary shortfall. It is essential to ensure a robust contingency plan is in place should there be a loss of database/server access. The group need to consider which “rules” they believe the University should operate – e.g. default to black/white, duplex, etc. Also consider whether the pricing structure should encourage users to use the device best suited to the job, e.g. a large print job to be directed to Print Services, to ensure environmental and monetary savings for the University. The system of replacement of devices should also be considered – should the University operate a “natural wastage” system of replacement whereby a machine is replaced when it has exceeded its lifespan? – audit information will assist in these decisions although initial policy should be determined and agreed. Consider aspect of students printing from their own laptops - this would benefit the student experience and also could provide an additional revue source for the university. Birmingham City College OCE Site visit 2nd March 2010 (PB, RP, NP, JB, P R-J ) Contact: Simon Tonks, ICT Director, Fordrough Campus, 0121 20401000 Institution City College Birmingham has approximately 20,000 students and 700 staff members. The age range is predominantly 16-19 year olds. Contract City College previously used Konica Minolta devices, moved over to Oce last autumn, after tender process. Kit Secure release – 34 x Oce monochrome MFDs, mainly monochrome. Plus a large number of non-secure release laser printers. Non-secure release printers handy for classes where tutor doesn’t want students leaving room to visit local mfd. Jobs above a certain size and copy number can only be printed on the MFDs. ICS have supplied the card swipes, and they are having a few teething troubles. Simon did say how quick ICS were to respond to the issue, and were currently working on fixing the problem (card swipes were causing system to hang, and balances were not being correctly calculated/displayed). Machine filling carried out by identified key people in local area of the MFD. P-Counter occupies three virtual servers, each of which has mono queue option on it, to provide resilience. Accounting P-Counter (print queues) with AD holding print account balances (?) Application From having nothing to having a print and charging management application was a big jump, and Simon said how good it was to have something in place. However, with P-Counter he is now beginning to feel that it has limitations, and is not completely confident that it will be able to do all that they need in the long-term. P-Counter can administer printers individually. Card swipes via ICS User interface Students charged 2p per print monochrome, 10p colour on MFDs, 10p monochrome on the lasers. Being a tertiary college the student demographic is different, and students are given a credit of £30 each on their print accounts. Jobs deleted after 10 hours if not printed. A certain amount of resistance encountered with staff over move to MFDs. Training courses widely advertised, by both ICT dept and Oce but poorly attended. Roll-out ongoing (just over halfway when we visited). Quotas have been set by Simon for individual departments, but no charging yet. Oce “Responsive and co-operative” 1. Birmingham City University CANNON Site visit 2nd March 2010 (PB, RP, NP, JB, P R-J ) Contact - Dean England, Head of Server Services System employed Canon Uniflow How long has system been in place? Three years General impression Not good. How many student pc clusters? Not more than a dozen. The system serves staff printing as well as student printing What devices? Printers, copiers, MFD’s, all generally Canon, plus cash-loaders (problems with – too high for disabled students) How is money added? Cash loaders and online, with higher proportion via cash as minimum charge via online. Dean comments that the five minute delay between adding money to account and it appearing in account is not ideal. Who administers them/support on them (printers and cash machines) Partly university staff, partly canon, who have onsite engineer. Files that it can’t cope with? As per all print systems -PDF’s, Powerpoint7plus can’t do duplex charging correctly – resulting in fiddly method of reclaiming money from Canon. Support – Dean commented that Canon’s on-site engineer is very conscientious How much control is retained? Dean’s opinion – Generally not enough. What about finances – does it generate money? Canon receive around 20% of click money If you were doing it all over again what would you do? Not use Canon Uniflow. Birmingham City have experienced two major outages of print system. In each instance for majority of a week - one of these being end of term course hand-in times, with obvious stress felt by all. Canon Uniflow, when required, did not have facility to bypass print charging in event of loss of database/ server access. Dean commented tha the felt Canon were making up Uniflow as they went along, partly as a result of not actually writing the software themselves – they are part by part buying it from another firm, NT-ware. 3. Brighton University PHAROS UNIPRINT via ITS http://www.itsltduk.co.uk Contact: Graham Davies How long has system been in place? 7 - 8 years General impression Good How many student pc clusters? Graham not sure, but feeling gained was that it was considerable, in various satellite sites. Students can also access print service via own laptops if on campus/connected to university network. Drivers and administration software downloadable, packages put together by Brighton. What devices? HP printers, some copiers, plus cash machines. Effectively use PCs as print release stations. How is money added? Online or via cash machine (the latter can take coins or notes) Who administers them/support on them (printers and cash machines) Brighton University Files that it can’t cope with? Occasional PDF’s. They use PCL6 for printing, though some suggestion that pcl5 more reliable. Support – From ITS (ICS?), who are good but sometimes ‘want things on a plate’ when it comes to problems experienced by Brighton University i.e. dependant on a certain level of expertise on site. How much control is retained? High level of control retained What about finances – does it generate money? Yes, Pharos Uniprint is something acquired by licence, with proceeds retained by University and used to replace equipment and to pay for consumables. If you were doing it all over again what would you do? Brighton are content with Uniprint, and are actively developing their implementation of it. Uniprint features ‘offline’ facility – students can print up to £5 worth of printing even if system down – when system returns it synchs accounts taking ‘loaned’ amount into account. 4. Oaklands College, Welwyn Garden City ALTO DIGITAL Site visit 22nd February 2010 (PB and NP) Contact: Patrick Lowe - Head of Reprographic Services Institution Oaklands College, in Welwyn Garden City, has approx. 15,000 full-time and part-time students, and around 700 staff. Contract Alto Digital have had an involvement with Oaklands for over 20 years, with some form of managed print system being in place for around 12 years. Kit There are around 15 student clusters, each generally having one laser printer in room and one MFD nearby. Only the MFD’s are secure release. Secure release – x monochrome Kyocera 1650 (16 ppm) x colour Kyocera C4035-e (40ppm, A3 option) The swipe machines attached to MFD’s to enable secure release printing, are expensive – around £900 per unit. Patrick commented that whilst Kyocera’s might not be as robust as e.g. Ricoh devices, they are very cheap to run, are generally reliable, and Kyocera have excellent environmental credentials. In designated print room there are heavy duty Ricoh devices, capable of up to 130ppm. Plus various laser devices, mainly HP, not on secure release. No click charge due on lasers. Secure release printing to MFD’s is 5p mono, 10p colour. Printing to laser devices is 10p mono, 60p colour This pricing is a deliberate policy to push people towards MFD’s. Patrick is employing a ‘natural wastage’ policy regarding old printers – the devices are removed from the maintenance contract and not generally replaced once they reach the end of their lives. Both the above strategies have helped counter hostility towards managed print system. Altodigital’s attitude has also helped with this – they allow the institution to decide how best to manage things, without pushing anything in any given direction. Accounting P-Counter (Altman technologies) Application P-Counter had been something that Oaklands had employed on a limited scale before more general managed printing. Given that Oaklands has around four separate sites, dotted around Welwyn and St Albans, with students generally exclusive to one site, there have always been separate print servers, each of which has to have it’s own P-Counter server licence (Patrick – “As far as I know, P-Counter issue a license to use their software on the actual windows print server at the local point of use. We have 4 servers, one on each main campus, therefore we had to buy 4 licenses. You would need to check with Alto/Altman-IT on exactly how this would work in your situation. I can only say on what happened with us. Also, we only went with P-Counter as we already had it installed in a smaller usage, therefore it seemed logical to develop it rather than starting again. If you haven't got anything set-up it might not be the best software for you.”) P-Counter can be configured to do many things (e.g. can restrict print queue submissions to files below certain size), and Patrick said he’d not explored fully it’s capabilities, but would be attending course put on by Altman to gain more knowledge of its potential. Note: P-Counter employs ‘flat database’ rather than relational database and is probably not the best option for larger scale deployment. User The secure-release interface on the MFD’s is very streamlined, linking interface in with the AD directory and the P-Counter server. Users queue print jobs, swipe card, and any jobs in print queue under their name are printed. This means that if the user queues a file and then realises they do not require printing of that file, they have to delete file from print queue via PC rather than on MFD/print interface. This may be due to limitations placed by basic display properties of swipe machines. Students did not seem to have a problem with the operation of the secure release. Students designate colour or monochrome printing at point of queuing. Any print job queued for colour but having less than 5% colour will default to mono charging. For adding money to their print accounts, students pay cash at reception desk; to be replaced with cash machines in time. Users can also scan to email (no charge), being able to send document to any email address in AD directory (and presumably could input via MFD panel any outside email addresses). Students are each credited with £10 per term, from tuition fee income. Altodigital Alto-Digital are a supplier and not a specified machine company. Consequently, there is the benefit of supplying different makes of machine to suit differing needs, as well, as budgets. Oaklands College have been a customer of Alto-Digital for the past 13 years and Patrick Lowe speaks extremely highly of them. Patrick has had many years experience of various print system suppliers, and his view was that ‘Alto’ were ‘very good’ – reliable, flexible, efficient and very easy to work with. An example is installation of new devices – ‘usually done in a couple of days’, contrasting with Xerox, when same would take ‘around a month’ (Ed Haworth, Worcester College). Altodigital visit once a fortnight, and are ‘always available’ Additional notes – Nigel Philips The Reprographic Services have responsibility for all laser printers and MFD devices. Patrick was extremely complimentary of the Alto-Digital Audit, expressing that he still uses the information it contains. Each machine has an assigned Key Operator, who also acts as liaison between the user and Alto-Digital. Regarding staff and student printing and copying; the only difference seemed to be the allowance differential, i.e. student printing counts downwards, whereas staff printing counts upwards. Alto-Digital gave an excellent presentation, when they came to speak with us at the University of Exeter. After visiting Oaklands College I found nothing to dissuade the original view. However, I would have some hesitation regarding Kyrocia equipment, although cheaper than Ricoh, I don’t know if they would be robust enough for an institution of our size? Also, P-Counter appears fine when running in a small set-up but I would have reservations over a larger area. 6. Worcester College of Technology XEROX EQUITRAC Site visit 16th February 2010 (PB, RP and NP) Contact: Ed Haworth, WCT Network Services. Institution Worcester College of Technology has approx. 10,000 full-time students, plus some part-time, and around 700 staff. Contract Worcester College renewed contract in Autumn last year, following a previous contract of 5 years. Kit Secure release – 16 x monochrome mfps (Xerox 56 series) 5 x colour mfps (Xerox 73 series) 10 x small-format monochrome mfps (Xerox 4118’s) Plus 81 non-secure release laser printers. All the MFDs are duplex as default. The 4118’s are in the student clusters, though students can print to any accessible machine. 4118s noted as being very slow. Accounting Equitrac Express Application Ed expressed dissatisfaction at how difficult it was to work with Equitrac Express ( . . . “it’s very ‘obscure’” . . .) as an IT support person when it came to customising things for better working (whilst Equitrac Express performs ‘ok’ it seems to have idiosyncrasies and limitations). Not only does it seem to be written in a way to deter user development, but in addition Equitrac regard any intervention in the workings as warranting any support agreements invalid. Equitrac Express does not allow print jobs to be manipulated to any great degree. In the event of a hardware failure to device there is no reporting, and no ability to confirm whether or not a job was printed. Ed contrasted this with Pharos Uniprint, where print jobs can easily be manoeuvred (as we saw at Plymouth University). Equitrac/Xerox MFD’s handle print jobs fairly well, though sometimes gets page counts wrong, in particular there are problems with colour/monochrome job differentiation, resulting in highly wayward page counts. Ed Haworth re: Equitrac .....“We have developed a sharepoint webpart for our study centre staff to administer lockouts/password resets and print credit for the users. The Equitrac supported method of updating data is via their EQCMD utility; I would strongly recommend you fully test this application to understand it’s limitations before putting serious consideration into an Equitrac powered solution. From what I’ve read of the documentation it is designed around CSV import/export of data and produces a separate log file for each CSV it processes; where as we have spent the past 5 years or so making our systems react instantly to account provisioning.” User The secure-release interface on the MFD’s is inefficient, and with slow interface logout time – not ideal in high usage student PC clusters. The machines also have set up that enables any swiped card to be linked to your account – designed so that students don’t have to wait for a card to be ‘activated’ before it can be used. Downside is that swipes are unreliable, fail to read magstripe properly, then it is all too easy to link your account with spurious magstripe number. Users can also login via username and password. For adding money to their print accounts, students pay cash at reception desk; Worcester College could not afford the web-based solution, nor the cash machines. Xerox Ed Haworth expressed the opinion that if it had been up to him, he wouldn’t have opted to renew the Xerox contract – as he expressed in email afterwards “Hopefully I haven’t scared you off Xerox too much with our frustrations; but I see no advantage in sugar coating some of the challenges and frustrations we have been presented with!” That said, he said that Xerox were ‘okay to deal with’, and that some of the problems he experienced, Equitrac notwithstanding, were due to the budgetary limitations imposed – with more resources they would have gotten a system that behaved better, was more adaptable, and Xerox would have the contractual obligations to develop proper solutions rather than Worcester having to live with work-rounds. He did say that when it came to installing a new MFD it took Xerox around a month to process the paperwork and set up the device. Additional notes “While the solution we have deployed for MFDs (Equitrac Express) is not as flexible as the previous software solution (Pharos’ Uniprint), it is working for us for the most part. The solution that has been implemented here has been done for converged staff and student access, one of the requirements we had was implementation of cost codes/cross charging; it turns out that this functionality is mutually exclusive with stopping a user’s copy job when they exceed their credit (a user could exceed their credit, then copy as much as they like going into debt, however subsequent logins would be denied).” Ed Haworth The previous software installed had been Pharos-Uniprint and according to Ed Haworth, was more ‘specific’ and easier to use than the present Equitrac. When asked if he prefered Pharos to Equitrac he replied: ‘definitely’. Nigel Philips – It was interesting to view a site which hosted Xerox. However, I was concerned that although, Oaklands College had been given as a reference site, they didn’t fully come across, as recommending Xerox to us. Having since spoken to a Xerox representative, it appears that there was apportioned a certain sum of money, which Xerox had to work to. A definite comparison had been drawn between Equitrac and Pharos-Uniprint. Coming from a person with a strong IT background, it would appear that Pharos was definitely the better system. Regarding the Print Room equipment: This was the same equipment we had been looking at to replace in our own Print Services. We were able to examine the output, which lived up to expectation. However, the Print Room manager expressed that she would have preferred the Konica-Minolta digital press, if she had been given the opportunity.
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