The University of West Georgia’s publications and printing (pub and print) department was given a mandate in 2011 to become self-funded by 2013. Dan Lewis, director of the Center for Business Excellence at the university, used business process redesign and lean six sigma to identify areas that had the greatest opportunities for improvement. Specifically, they looked for potential increases in efficiency, reductions in cost, and generation of new revenue.
Local market research and competitive assessments conducted by pub and print director Sally Roberts revealed products and services that were being sought by the campus community but were being purchased elsewhere. These included graduation invitations, holiday cards, and CD/DVD printing, print-on-demand services, large format printing of posters and graphics, and laminating.
Armed with this information, the department began a search for equipment that could produce these products affordably and yet be housed within pub and print. The Information Technology Services department also donated print-on-demand equipment for campus use. This relocation and reallocation of assets provided pub and print with new printing resources without costing anything.
But acquiring new equipment was only part of what was needed. Completely redesigning how printing work was completed was the other part. In mapping out the Quick Copy process, the team quickly discovered that the set-up phase was critical and offered a number of opportunities for improvement. After highlighting non-value-added aspects or parts of the process that the customer was unwilling to pay for, the team eliminated them.
Worker responsibilities have also shifted, Lewis explains. “The supervisor spends less time with customers and more time keeping machines operating, while the front desk spends more time with customers because the supervisor is now solely responsible for equipment maintenance.
Other processes, such as print-on-demand, were redesigned. With a new computer in the lobby of pub and print, students can now prepare and design their own text files on-site. “While this puts more responsibility on students, it also provides them with hands-on technical expertise, which helps to cut down on questions, errors, and potential rework,” says Lewis.
The result? “It was a grand slam” says Lewis. The changes generated a total of 23.5 percent productivity improvement for the department. By tracking data, pub and print recognized a monthly savings of an estimated 18 hours, or $21,322, from rerouting work directly to the supervisor. Taking student assistance and service out of the hands of the supervisor and into those of the office staff eliminated an estimated 313 minutes of downtime, which recaptured $6,179 in monthly revenue. And implementation of new graphic software shaved approximately 323 minutes off set-up time each month, generating an additional $6,377 in monthly revenue.
On top of productivity improvements, process improvements also impacted revenue, which increased 42 percent in one year, from $470,000 in FY2011 to more than $670,000 in FY 2012. “We anticipate continued growth,” says Lewis, “but we will be happy if we can keep the revenue figures going forward.”