The Lubbock Independent School District (ISD) was established in 1907. It’s the largest school district—61 campuses—serving the city of Lubbock, Texas.
The district includes elementary, early childhood, middle, high, and special purpose schools, and alternative campuses.
Yes, the 27,000 students and 3,500 staff do a lot of printing! And that printing was done on thousands of printers.
Eventually it came to a point where the print environment became too big and convoluted to manage. Something had to be done to manage the printers (and everything about them), and to find an alternative for the soon-to-be deprecated Google Cloud Print they were using.
We caught up with Robert Causer from Technology Services at Lubbock ISD to find out how they solved their printing challenges.
PAPERCUT: Tell us about your workplace and your role
ROBERT: I’ve been with the school district for 15 years now, and in my current role for three years. Prior to this role I was a network administrator for the district. My current role is more specialized and with the technology deployment team.
One of the first initiatives when I came over was to look at printing—we were changing over to managed print services so that was my main focus. We had used PaperCut previously when I was a network administrator, but it was mainly just as a monitoring tool rather than as an accounting or print management tool.
We have we have around 27,000 students give or take, and around 3500 staff members.
What was happening in your workplace that prompted the move to PaperCut MF?
Previous to that, I couldn’t even tell you how many thousands of printers we had. In just about every nook and cranny there was a printer—it was like the Wild West of printers! Things were somewhat out of control—our service calls were taking up 30% of our time.
So it was decided that we need to stop this because it was becoming unmanageable. When we moved to ImageNet, they came to us with this managed print solution.
Nowadays we have printer pods populated throughout the building and we use the badge identification system. It works really nicely for us.
You mentioned that before implementing PaperCut MF as a holistic solution, your support calls were ~30% of your job. What did you find after ImageNet came on the scene?
That’s kind of hard to tell because the majority of the calls have been pushed to ImageNet. So I mean I could realistically guess that we’re probably below 5% now, but it’s a little hard to tell because I don’t see the calls come in for ImageNet.
I can say that for us, it’s been a significant time saver and assisted with money savings if for no other reason the number of printers has dramatically reduced. We went from several thousand printers to I think right now our fleet is 700—so two-thirds of our printers have been removed!
Can you talk through some of the other benefits?
There’s been a significant reduction in paper. It’s a little hard to qualify because my principals still order palettes of paper and I don’t ever see that side. But I can tell just from my side of things the volume of printing has been steadily declining over the last three years, so I would assume consequently that paper usage has been going down.
One of the things that we struggle with, though, is that the teachers will take reams of paper and use it for arts and crafts so it makes that side hard to track!
I use PaperCut reporting at a campus level. I send monthly reports to our administrators saying, “Hey, your campus has done X amount of printing this month”.
We have a semester allotment and update the campus each month. We can identify who the top people that have been printing at campus level and say you might want to go have a conversation with them.
At first it wasn’t very well received but the principals are starting to understand and know that this does directly impact their budget. And so they’ve been starting to have those conversations with their staff.
Anything else you can quantify for us? We love numbers!
Nothing I can put hard numbers on—but at a high level I know we’re saving money as far as energy goes. There is energy saving just because the number of devices plugged in is significantly less.
Also, things like the toner and things like that. There’s going to be a significant savings again just because there’s not nearly as many devices in place.
Were there any concerns about how users would be impacted by using PaperCut MF?
At first it was not received very well because people didn’t understand it and didn’t like it. But after a couple months they understood and really liked the solution because it lent itself to a lot of versatility.
With the way we have PaperCut set up you can go anywhere in the district and get your print job. And with Mobility Print you can print something at home and then come in the next morning and just get your job.
It lends itself to a lot more freedom and not having to worry about, say, if I send a print job that it’s going to mess somebody else’s print job up or pick up the wrong paperwork.
We had a few little hiccups these past few months at our end due to COVID-19. I shut off some of the printers and came back to school and realised that wasn’t really a good thing to do when everything gets turned back on! But we’ve worked through those little issues and I said those are not PaperCut or ImageNet’s fault—just hindsight 2020 things!
Were you using Google Cloud Print before?
Yes, we’re still kind of in a hybrid where we’re using Google Cloud Print, but the printers are also published in Mobility Print so you can hit them either way.
Is Mobility Print your alternative for Google Cloud Print?
Yes, it will be the replacement, probably over the next month. Maybe right after Thanksgiving we’ll shut down the other and move exclusively to that.
What was your experience like rolling out Mobility Print?
It’s been a team effort. It’s me, but a lot of it is ImageNet, too. I’m there answering questions and assisting, but those guys are the ones that are really the quarterback on it. Overall, it was a pretty simple process.
What does the Cloud Print feature in Mobility Print mean to your schools?
It’s primarily used by the teachers when they’re at home or not in the building. They’re printing work or tests at home before they go into the classroom to save time.
Our students still don’t have access to it because no one is willing to sign off on that just yet!
What do you like most about Mobility Print’s Cloud Print feature?
Besides it being super easy, the Print Deploy option is also good. Being able to just push it out from our side makes ease of use extremely nice. It is really user-friendly. I can just send someone to that URL for deployment and then they’re good to go.
What devices are you’re using with Mobility Print?
It’s on everything! Chromebooks, iPads, Windows devices. I know you can use it on your phone too—I’ve tested it a few times.
What feedback have you had from users?
No real feedback, besides that it’s just easy and the convenience of it. But no one’s really come to me specifically and said, “Yeah, this is great. Thank you. You’re the most awesome person ever,” or anything like that.
As I mentioned before there was a bit of resistance at the start. I sent all those initial phone calls to my boss to deal with! And the message was you better learn to like it and get on board.
Our superintendent continued to send that message to the principals that we are doing this as a cost-saving measure and they could better understand the benefits.
The resistance was mainly because of that idea with technology that the device doesn’t belong to the school it belongs to me and you’re taking it from me—the resistance was you’re taking away my printer. Yes we’re taking a printer, but I’m giving you this.
A colleague of mine likes to joke that it doesn’t matter. If you took away a silver bar from someone and you gave them a gold bar, they’d still be mad because you took their silver bar. But a lot of teachers now appreciate that there are better devices that are within three or four doors of their room.
So yes, I took away your device, but you gained a lot back and I think it finally sunk in. The mindset now is this benefits more than it harms.
Would you recommend PaperCut MF and Mobility Print to other schools?
Oh, definitely yes. It’s definitely beneficial to help you have control of your print environment. You can’t go wrong!
What are the top benefits?
Having the vision into what’s actually going on is awesome. Then having the ability to report against what’s going on.
Having that granular control of what happens or if your print job is going to be more than 500 pages you can force it to a different printer. That kind of granular control really, really helps you to have control of your environment.
What’s a WOW moment you’ve had with PaperCut—either from functionality, user experience, support, or other?
Seeing the volume of printing that we were doing, it just was astounding!
As far as functionality, my biggest wow was the reporting. And yes this sounds kind of corny, but being able to schedule reports and send those reports out and not have to mess with them or put them into a spreadsheet and then send it off. Being able to schedule the reports is a time saver and I really appreciate not having to manually do them.
It’s been a great experience overall between PaperCut and ImageNet. We haven’t had any real issues at all.
The stability of the product is great, the rollouts of updates and new feature sets are nice—you definitely see when someone’s behind their product when you see those type of things. So it’s been great.