South Africa’s education sector is operating in a challenging landscape - private and public institutions alike, and from primary school through to secondary and tertiary education. Schools face a growing shortage of teaching skills, constantly evolving curriculums, and severe budgetary pressures.
Tertiary institutions are struggling with similar issues: insufficient resources, the need to achieve more with less money, accelerating demands for education, difficulties filling key research and teaching posts, and the need to evolve to keep pace with new technologies and changing social expectations.
Against this backdrop, each institution needs to focus on operational excellence and on ensuring that it serves staff, learners, students and stakeholders, like funders and parents, in the most effective and efficient manner. One area where most institutions can experience quick and sustainable wins lies in optimising the costs of printing and paper.
Many educational institutions do not have complete visibility into, or control over, their printing and copying costs. In addition to the high costs of ink and paper and potential misuse of printing rights, many institutions lack the reliable information they need to allocate printing and copying costs to the correct account or cost centre.
Today’s print management solutions empower educational institutions to monitor and control studentand staff printing, as well as to take charge of their printing budgets. At the same time, such solutions enable institutions to offer simple, reliable print services to nearly any device or platform.
As educational institutions look to roll out technologies and management methodologies as cloud-based administration solutions, high-speed fibre and BYOD support for their users, they should not neglect the opportunities that lie in better management of printing costs.
By implementing and allowing for better print management, cost management and print policies, printing cost / volumes could be reduced, and also produce significant cost-savings that could be redirected to other spending priorities. It could also help enhance the employee and learner experience at the school.
An institution’s first step towards taking control over print costs is understanding who is printing, what they are printing, which devices they are using to print and when they are printing.
A good print management solution will track printing activity across multiple servers and locally attached desktop printers. It will enable administrators or controllers to generate reports about how many colour pages are printed from the MFP in the computer lab each week, for example, or report on which user printed the 300 page document yesterday.
The software can also alert administrators via automatic email alerts about problems, like low tonerlevels or a paper jam. This can help to reduce IT support costs and minimise the disruption a broken printer or copier can cause for staff, students or learners.
An educational institution can put in place, and enforce, rules and policies to reduce costs, cut down on users clogging devices with large print jobs, discourage frivolous printing and improve its carbon footprint. These rules can shape user behaviour for the better and optimise usage of devices and resources:
Most educational institutions have students and staff printing from a range of personally- and organisation-owned devices, as well as from a selection of cloud services. Print management software should make it simple for users to print from any device or platform, without burdening IT administratorsat the institution.
No matter what device students and staff have, be it iPads, leased laptops or smartphones, an institution can apply network policies while delivering easy access to print. Good print management platforms will even enable seamless guest printing for visitors.
Every educational institution stores and processes sensitive employee and student information such as payrolls, school reports, academic results, standardised test scores, disciplinary records and more. Print management software offers tools to protect and manage private documents. One example is follow-me printing - the user prints to a global virtual queue and releases the job at the device.
Organisations can also use watermarking and digital signatures to tie the owner to every document.
Print management software makes it easy to track costs by student/learner, department, subject or custom shared accounts. This enables the institution to bill costs back to the correct department or student for reimbursement. Institutions can also allocate quotas to users to prevent them from abusing their printer privileges. The ideal solution will enable the institution to allocate print job costs for each user to different departments or subjects.
Print management software should offer the institution the option of tailoring the end-user web interface to look like part of the intranet. It may also enable the user to see details of print job costs, account balances, account recharge terminals, print policies and cost allocations. Users could have the option of releasing a job at any device using any modern smartphone or an ID badge. Users also have the option to recharge their own printing accounts at easy self-help terminals, allowing them to load credits onto their accounts.
Rather than creating a burden for administrators, a print management solution should make it simple to launch any client software from a server. It should support automatic synchronisation of user and group information from a source, such as Windows Active Directory.
Print management software should meet the educational institution’s need for a scalable, budget-friendly solution with no hidden costs or complex pricing models. For example, many institutions prefer simple per-user licensing costs with no limits on the number of servers, workstations, printers, operating systems or domains.
Educational institutions can achieve significant cost savings by putting an end to wasteful use of their printing and copying resources. Today’s print management software makes it easy to account for everypage printed and stop any careless utilisation with some simple tools. What’s more, the software enablesinstitutions a better end-user experience and takes the pain out of printing, even as they save money and boost efficiency.