Managing Student Printing with Pharos

By Buz Grover
Associate Director,
George Mason University

Print Management Case Study

George Mason University, Virginia’s largest and most diverse public university, found itself at a crossroads. Print management had become such a specialized field, our in-house effort was unable to effectively keep up with current best practices for printing efficiencies. This led to bad user experiences and overwhelmed support staff.

The GMU printer fleet was a ramshackle collection of devices from various manufacturers of various ages and capabilities. This mess required one-off training, re-training, tedious and poorly documented device administration tasks, and supply chain and maintenance issues.

In short, the process of managing student printing had become a nightmare. We were continually overwhelmed by too much demand and too much complexity. Release stations often had long lines of angry students, while similarities in print job names led students to frequently print the wrong document from the shared queue. The result was uncountable stacks of unclaimed documents and a lot of waste, frustration, and demand for refunds.

George Mason University aerial photo

We appreciated Pharos for their unique expertise with large, complex university environments.

At the time, our mobile printing solution was also challenging, inefficient, and idiosyncratic across operating systems. Few users bothered to employ it. We couldn’t keep up with the growing mess. Something had to change and change fast. Rather than continuing to plod along with yesterday’s models, we needed a strategy that addressed emerging user needs. We decided to explore print management software options with the goal of driving down our costs and improving the user experience—especially on mobile devices.

We decided to refresh our entire fleet with multi-function printers from a single manufacturer and work with Pharos on the software side. We appreciated Pharos for their unique expertise with large, complex university environments.

Serving in a consulting role, senior Pharos officers helped us understand the complexities of the modern print environment and the strategies that best addressed our printing needs and concerns. I knew this level of attention and customer care is rare in the print management industry and I was pleasantly surprised by all the assistance Pharos offered.

After installing Pharos Uniprint, student questions and complaints about printing fell dramatically. This was a huge relief for us.

And so we began the monumental task of implementing a new managed print regimen, where again Pharos expertise proved invaluable. They made the installation and deployment process so easy on us, and we were able to take advantage of the new rollout almost immediately.

We had quick success on the student side of printing. With Uniprint, high demand at a given printer no longer resulted in a bottleneck. The documents students submitted were not bound to a specific printer, so they could simply walk up to any printer to release their documents.

Students loved this new flexibility because they are always on the move and in different buildings across campus. The technology aligned perfectly with their nomadic ways.

After just two years since the Pharos Uniprint implementation, GMU has saved almost $1 million and counting measured against our print spending over the prior two-year period.

Moreover, because each student has their own print queue, we no longer had similarly named print jobs released by the wrong students. This problem had been adding to the giant mess of uncollected documents. The reduction in paper and toner waste has been significant.

Also, students quickly understood the user interface—it was essentially the same on all printers. They could easily view their print jobs and print only the documents they need. They could even add funds to their print and copy accounts, apply document finishing options, and release their print jobs—all from their mobile phones.

Uniprint provided a completely new experience for them and it saved our support staff a massive amount of time. After installing Pharos Uniprint, student questions and complaints about printing fell dramatically. This was a huge relief for us.

Back Office Printing Solved

In addition to managing student printing, Pharos Uniprint also had a profound impact on the faculty/staff side at George Mason University. First, the user authentication requirement (as opposed to immediately printing documents at a specific device as soon as they are submitted) has significantly reduced printing volume and waste. It has inspired everyone to be more mindful about their printing choices.

 

The ability to catch version control issues and redundant submissions before they are released has made it easy to save money and keep our recycle bins empty. And, the more advanced options like collating, stapling and sorting are simple to apply. This has made it easy for all of us on the George Mason staff to use the functions we need quickly and easily, without having to struggle with the interface and constantly re-train people.

I knew this level of attention and customer care is rare in the print management industry and I was pleasantly surprised by all the assistance Pharos offered.

After just two years since the Pharos Uniprint implementation, George Mason University has saved almost $1 million and counting measured against our print spending over the prior two-year period. The masses of students and faculty who would regularly complain about printing? We haven’t heard from them in a long time.

We know now that managing student printing doesn’t have to be difficult. We just needed the right combination of print management software and support, and the people at Pharos really made the difference. They were by our side throughout the implementation answering our questions and helping us in every way possible. Between the money we’ve saved and the vast improvements in user experiences, we’ve delivered far more to the University community than was expected, and George Mason University has Pharos and Uniprint to thank for a large part of this successful outcome.


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