Digital Output Cost Structures: 2009-2012

In January 2009, Luther entered into a strategic partnership with IKON Office Solutions to provide leadership and management of digital output and mail services at Luther. To date, this partnership has succeeded in stabilizing cost overruns and generating quality usage data to more finely tune our digital output strategies to maximize value while minimizing costs. We continue to work with IKON to address and improve service issues as they arise, and always welcome comment on potential areas for improvement.

Luther’s agreement with IKON covers management services. IKON has no profit incentive in how Luther price structures and models are created. While they do advise Luther on recommended actions, all pricing of digital output services is set by Luther in an effort to meet our institutional goals for sustainability, affordability, and cost recovery.

It is also important to note that our current cost structure for digital output results in regular and unsustainable operating losses across the College. Individual departments may not see these directly, however the College is left to cover these costs at the end of each budget year. This means that the College has historically undercharged for digital output (a fact borne out by study of cost structures at similar institutions).

Now that we have more than a year of data regarding digital output, the President and Cabinet have affirmed a multi-year plan to guide our cost structure to be more reflective of actual cost to the institution. In addition we would like to better steer our usage patterns in line with our goals regarding sustainability and consumption of resources. These changes will help us to meet stated goals which include:

  • Reducing and eliminating college-wide subsidy and losses regarding digital output costs
  • Reducing overall print volume
  • Reducing the overall number of digital output devices
  • Maximizing the benefit of our institutional investment in the Document Center
  • Driving volume to the lowest cost output device appropriate

Our changes in price structures will be phased in over a two year period as follows:

Device Class Per Click Costs
Per Click Costs
Per Click Costs
B&W Document Center $0.040 $0.030 $0.020
B&W Convenience Copiers $0.011 $0.025 $0.035
B&W Laser Printers $0.020 $0.035 $0.050
Color Document Center $0.500 $0.250 $0.250
Color Convenience Copiers $0.100 $0.200 $0.275
Color Laser Printers $0.120 $0.200 $0.300
  • Clicks are individual copies.
  • Document Center includes all jobs processed through the Document Center (the former Print Shop) not including additional service fees (binding, etc.)
  • Convenience Copiers include all single-function or multi-function copiers under our IKON Service Agreement and installed in offices or departments.
  • Laser Printers include all single-function laser printers under our IKON Service Agreement.

Generally, service costs at the central Document Center will drop by 50 percent for both black & white as well as color jobs over two years. Please note this cost includes click costs, paper, and labor to complete the job. This rate is set below standard costs at similar institutions to encourage use of our central resource.

Service costs for all other convenience devices will rise to create a cascading waterfall of pricing that will encourage use of lowest-cost devices as well as overall reduction of output. Additionally, all costs listed above for convenience copiers and laser printers do not include additional costs for paper and device acquisition. These costs are generally in line with what other similar institutions charge for these methods.

We have created an easy cost calculator that allows departments to input their current costs across device classes and adjust usage changes to see how the new pricing will affect budgets. Because some prices are rising and some are lowering, the ultimate outcome on budgets will be determined by how individual departments target usage changes to adapt to the new pricing. Departments who continue to support inkjet printing are also expected to redirect those costs to support use of central digital output services. In many cases across campus, this new pricing structure need not cause new stress on budgets allocated to digital output provided usage patterns adapt appropriately.

We recognize that success of this adjusted model relies on quality and timely service from the Document Center. In order to ensure the best service, please observe and be aware of the following guidelines:

  • Requestors should submit jobs online via TRAC. This is the speediest way to initiate your request and is preferred. All requests should include a date and time required for completion of the request.
  • If for any reason a job cannot be completed in the time requested, Document Center staff will immediately notify requestors and assist in identifying alternative arrangements.
  • As always, small urgent jobs that are sent or brought to the Document Center will be completed right away.
  • Rush jobs submitted via TRAC, under 2,000 impressions, and without special finishing will be completed and ready for pickup within 3 business hours and delivered within 4 business hours of submission. (Finishing services may require additional time).

IKON and LIS will offer sessions open to the campus later this semester for questions and discussion. Budget center directors may also contact the Document Center to receive customized cost calculators for their areas.

In order to continue to improve service, we will also be administering an online survey soon to gather comment and feedback on IKON services. Please watch your email for an invitation. We value your input and participation as we work to improve digital document services at Luther.