Copy This

Information Technology
Honoree: 
Houston Community College
Program Category: 

As long as there are assignments for college students to research and write, it’s likely there will be copiers and printers to help.

Good news for paper and copier companies, for sure, but bad news for institutions such as expansive Houston Community College, at least until recently. HCC’s six colleges and 27 sites allow it to educate more than 70,000 students a semester, but without centralized print and copy management solutions, efficiency lagged severely.

Copying and printing was done differently at each college—different hardware, different tracking and different payment systems. HCC officials found it difficult to monitor the funds collected from faculty and students, who also were hamstrung by having to deal with a different system at each college where they taught and studied.

Multiple maintenance contracts with various vendors made analyzing and tracking supply budgets, revenues and performance equally frustrating.

“The copying function was handled by individual contracts with each one of the colleges,” says William Carter, vice chancellor of information technology. “Some were using all one vendor, some were using different vendors. You had different copy machines, so people had to be trained on various types of copiers.”

Students couldn’t just go to any one system and have their needs met.

Three years ago, HCC implemented a combined solution called EaglePrint. Carter’s department used existing systems to centralize the operation under a single vendor contract covering copying and printing at all of HCC’s colleges and campuses. Those services are now integrated with the system’s identity management, email and network systems, allowing for a variety of more efficient operational benefits.

For example, users can print from their smartphones and tablets. They have access to a single, secure interface to manage their print-card funds and print or copy documents. Students can initiate printing from one site and pick up their work at another.

Better reporting gives administrators a clearer idea of usage as well as timely notifications of supply shortages. Training is far more streamlined, as well.

“The goal was to make everything more effective,” Carter says. “It gave us all the functionality we needed to allow our students to a bring-your-own-everything, do-anything-anywhere-type of concept.”

The new system cost HCC $169,000 to implement but generated $191,000 in revenues its first year. The system paid for itself in about 10 months, he says, with the revenues used mostly to offset supply costs.

“We worked with the finance department to get [the individual colleges] to understand that these were student funds and should go back into the process to help defer costs for paper and toner,” Carter says. “Money now goes back to the colleges annually to a supplies budget, which gives them entrepreneurial resources to do what they need to do.”