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BC Adopts Print Management Program

09/05/13

By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: Sept. 5, 2013

Boston College has established a university-wide print management program to promote cost-effectiveness, efficiency and consistency in BC publications.

A major facet of the program is that offices and departments must choose from a list of approved suppliers to produce print publications paid for with University funds. 

Leaders of the initiative, the result of a yearlong review of print purchasing procedures and suppliers by a University committee, say the program will improve the buying position of BC and preserve the University brand. It may also, they add, encourage adoption of alternatives to traditional print as a means of communication, at a time when the University spends more than $3.5 million a year on printing and related costs.

With the increasing popularity of e-mail, social media and other non-print applications for business as well as private use, Boston College and other academic institutions need to reconsider their current practices, according to Procurement Services Director Paul McGowan, a co-leader of the print management committee.

“People often tend to do things because they’ve always been done that way,” said McGowan. “This print management program provides the opportunity to get us thinking if there are other ways, by asking ourselves some basic questions: Do I really need to have the project printed? What is the return on my investment in this project? And who is that needs to see this project?”

In the course of its study, the print management committee found BC used more than 150 print suppliers for publications. This created inefficiencies and inconsistencies in costs and products, said McGowan and other committee members, running counter to University efforts to fashion a graphic identity in all its materials.

The committee came up with a set of criteria — such as cost, range and scale of services and adherence to BC graphic standards — with which to vet suppliers, and over the past year gradually pared the number in the University database to 15. There were few complaints voiced from the University community, noted McGowan, who adds that exceptions can be requested for project needs that cannot be met by the approved printers.

“We’ve seen a great willingness to embrace the idea of approved printers,” he said. “Most of the firms we deal with have all the capabilities BC offices and departments need. The suppliers we work with now are really partners in the process, and understand the bigger picture. For example, once they saw the value of our direct-to-mill paper program, they began to work with that supplier — they see the advantages in the partnership.”

Associate Director of Procurement Jerri Cole, who co-leads the committee with McGowan and Office of Marketing Communications Senior Associate Director Kristen Patterson, says the print management initiative also encourages offices and departments to examine the distributive end of their print projects.

“One of the common complaints we heard during our study was from people who would receive two or three copies of the same newsletter or brochure, or a publication for which they had no use,” she explained. “Since enacting the print management program, we’ve already seen improvements. Using alternatives to print, or simply checking your mailing list, cuts down the number of duplicate or unwanted publications that are received.”

McGowan and Cole expressed appreciation to fellow print management committee members Sheila Frazier, Colleen Chase, Jamie DiLoreto, Marybeth Cheverie, Susan Hynes, Linda Riley, Cecilia McClary, Diana Parziale, Christine Hunt and Al Travaglini. They also lauded the backing from Executive Vice President Patrick Keating, Vice President for Planning and Assessment Kelli Armstrong and Associate Vice President of Finance John Burke.

“We appreciate the leadership shown by various individuals and groups across BC in their willingness to make the changes necessary and work collaboratively with the suppliers,” said McGowan.

Information on the University Print Management Program is available at www.bc.edu/printmanagement