Digital Output Cost Structures Update

This spring, Luther proposed an adjustment to pricing structures for digital document output in our document center, on local multi-function devices, and laser printers to both be more reflective of actual costs and to address the changing usage patterns of digital document output. (The original memo is available at https://www.luther.edu/helpdesk/services/digitaloutput/.) Since that time, we have held ongoing discussions with faculty and staff regarding the rationale for these moves and have considered a number of alternative measures to address a rapidly changing service model at Luther.

Overall, we as a community are printing and copying much less than we did a year ago, and the rate of change in digital output at Luther is remarkable. At of the end of September 2010, our year-over-year document output campuswide had dropped 33%. In September 2009, we generated 711,428 impressions across all locations and devices while in September 2010, we generated 479,505 impressions at the same locations and devices. Our actual black & white volume in our Document Center in September 2009 was 225,497 impressions, while in September 2010 was 120,983 impressions (a 46% drop). In 2010, eight of the first ten months of the year saw year-over-year drops in volume.

The campus should be congratulated for our collective reductions in digital output. At the same time, the rate of change in usage has made it incredibly challenging to forecast revenue and expense models and to design cost structures that can ensure that digital document output is not operated at a loss for the College, as historically has been the case.

In light of the continuing changing conditions regarding digital output, and taking into account feedback from faculty and the administration, we will move forward with the following initiatives to address (and reassess) our pricing models for digital document output:

We will implement new pricing on digital output effective January 1, 2011 at the rates listed below:

Device Class Per Click Costs
(Current
Per Click Costs
(Effective 1/1/11)
B&W Document Center $0.040 $0.030
B&W Convenience Copiers $0.011 $0.025
B&W Laser Printers $0.020 $0.030
Color Document Center $0.500 $0.250
Color Convenience Copiers $0.100 $0.250
Color Laser Printers $0.120 $0.250
  • 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.)
  • Local 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.
  • The Document Center costs are all-inclusive (paper, toner, service, labor). The other charges are toner/service charges only. * Departments are responsible for providing their own paper and labor.

Additional Notes

  • Because volumes are so volatile, we will wait to assess the effects of these changes along with other adjustments to our cost structure to determine what, if any, additional pricing changes will be necessary at a future date.
  • The College will review all printing budget lines at the end of the 2010-11 budget year and make appropriate allocation adjustments to minimize the impact of the price changes.
  • Luther and IKON will prepare a documented and audited secure chain of custody for duplication and delivery of sensitive materials to requestors.
  • IKON will offer additional training opportunities for the community to learn more about the online submission tool TRAC.
    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).
  • Luther and IKON are also moving forward to significantly reduce the costs of our digital output infrastructure and will be phasing in savings over the 2010-11 academic year and beyond.
  • Due to equipment obsolescence, on-site wide-format printing will be discontinued at the Document Center for the time being. Wide-format jobs will continue to be accepted in the Document Center and will be handled through a third-party service at cost. More information on this service will be available at the Document Center.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can’t we just allocate more money to the central Luther document budgets to cover the unfunded costs?

No. We seek a budget model that lets departments keep control of their printing budget allocations, so that as demand for the service changes, the revenue and cost model for the college remains in balance.

Can’t we just allocate more money to departmental printing budgets to accommodate these price changes?

If our usage were flat or increasing, doing so would minimize the budget impact. However, our usage shows we are seeing sharp declines in use. If our use is dropping so precipitously and the College has not required budget reductions for printing, the argument for increasing departmental allocations cannot fully be made until we see the real net effect the changes have on budgets. This is why we intend a budget year-end review to determine the outcomes. Appropriate adjustments will be made at that time.

Doesn’t this new pricing model punish those with smaller jobs due to higher costs?

Not necessarily. The lower costs of duplicating materials at the Document Center will provide budget relief for many departments. Some of those released funds can then accommodate higher local prices. Also, because of the sharp reduction in year-over-year volume that is already occurring, we estimate many departments have some funds available from their lower overall usage.

Is Luther looking to save money elsewhere in document output on campus?

Absolutely. We have recently changed copier hardware in the Document Center to reduce lease costs. We are also examining ways of attractive revenue for our available capacity in our current structure. We are also looking to make sure that the service Luther provides for digital output is responsive to the changing needs of the College.

Is Luther trying to eliminate local output devices altogether?

Absolutely not. We recognize the important value that local multi-function devices, copiers, and printers have for departments across campus. We seek to eliminate redundancy in function where it exists and to maximize the efficiency and capability of the fleet we support.

Does this mean every job has to go to the Document Center?

No. Many (if not most) jobs are inappropriate for a central service like the Document Center. However many jobs that are currently run locally or done with off-site vendors may be appropriate for the Document Center. We want to provide Luther employees with a structure and system that makes it possible for them to determine the right place for jobs to be duplicated while ensuring they maintain the right to duplicate materials where they see fit.

Do you have data available documenting our digital output and how it is trending over time?

Yes, at https://www.luther.edu/helpdesk/services/digitaloutput/ you will find monthly reports that detail generated output by type and originating sector of the college (academic, administrative, public).