AnywherePrints Phase II Project

Tons of TrashIn late 2014, DoIT began a formal review of the state of individual printing on campus. Experience and observation combined to suggest that NIU had a degree of individual printing on campus that could lead to large scale cost savings. Over the course of the following year, DoIT worked with our managed print provider, the Gordon Flesch Company, Inc. (GF), to do several rounds of increasingly thorough investigations of printer inventories and volumes throughout campus.

A business case was developed, then reviewed by the IT Planning Council (ITPC)  in early 2015 and approved by the IT Steering Committee (ITSC) in May 2015 and was eventually released for action in June 2015. At the time, the intent of the project was to visit each office and department on campus, map out the locations of printers, explain the shared printer costs and benefits, and offer the chance for opt-in cost savings for offices that chose to remove individual printers in favor of shared printing.

Early adopters began to come on board in 2016 including all of DoIT, the President’s Office, the Provost’s Office, Vice President Weldy's offices, the Office of General Counsel, Procurement, and a few other areas. Allowing for some early adopter bugs, users report that the system works as expected and that they do not miss their individual printers. This is consistent with the broad industry experience at other organizations.

Based on this first sample of offices and extrapolating to the remainder of campus, this project was estimated to take two years to complete under the opt-in conditions.

Infographic on paper savingsProject Objectives

1. Improve Print Quality and Reliability

Moving faculty and staff from consumer-class inkjet and laser printers to multi-function print/copy/scan/fax devices (MFD’s) improves both the quality and reliability of printing on campus. MFD’s print, copy and scan documents at higher speeds and resolutions in a more secure environment and with advanced options for collating, stapling and duplex (double-sided) printing.

Access to an entire fleet of more than 400 MFD’s also provides a degree of geographic redundancy, flexibility and mobility that cannot be found with isolated networked or locally-connected printers that each have their own print drivers that must be installed on any desktop, laptop or smartphone. Moreover, faculty, staff and students can print from home, print by email, print from their phones. Print in the morning, pick up in the afternoon.

2. Achieve Cost Savings

The business case initially estimated a potential 41% savings or ~ $700,000 annually across campus that would be achieved by

  • reducing the number and types of print devices;
  • realizing the subsequent reduction in support costs and supplies; and
  • replacing unmanaged printers and copiers with managed devices that can allow users to monitor their own usage levels and ultimately reduce print volume.

A subsequent analysis on cost savings calculates savings of at least 44% from current campus levels when taking into account the additional distributed IT support costs, materials management, delivery and storage costs.

Changes in the Project Timeline

Warehouse of printers

After several months of research that included a campus-wide survey, the project team began to roll out the Pharos software that underpins NIU's AnywherePrints program as well as new MFD's to departments who chose to participate in the program. But the financial crisis that still faces the university prompted the recent 5% cost cutting exercise. DoIT volunteered more than 5% and also suggested that the print project could be a way of helping the university achieve its necessary cost savings by cutting things instead of salaries. This is a project that can conservatively save $500,000/year and maybe more. That’s 10 average salaries. And that makes it worth exploring.

But the print project wasn’t scheduled to finish for two years and that meant the cost savings wouldn’t be realized soon enough to keep from cutting in other areas. The primary reason the project timeline was so lengthy is because it takes a long time to meet with each individual department, have a conversation, let them mull over the choices, and then individually arrange for the installation of printers.

If the optional nature was largely removed, the project could be accelerated dramatically and finish in this fiscal year – in time to realize the cost savings benefits as soon as possible. The option to make the project mandatory was discussed with the IT Steering Committee, the IT Planning Council, the Executive Budget Committee, the Senior Cabinet, and the Operations Cabinet. 

Exceptions Process

Choosing shared printers that provide higher quality, faster, cheaper printing has widespread benefits for many on campus but there are numerous situations where a shared printer may not be the best choice. Evaluating such situations is best done locally instead of by any central entity. Therefore, the deans of the colleges, libraries and graduate school and the vice presidents of each administrative unit can grant an exception to the removal of printers at their sole discretion.

IT directors and senior IT staff in the IT Planning Council were given a spreadsheet of our last-known inventory of printers at NIU on November 14, 2016. Local IT support in the department assisted DoIT staff in bringing the inventory up to date, including the listing of any exception, the rationale for the exception and the approval of the unit's dean or vice president.  All of this work was completed by December 22, 2016.

Without this information, the project team would not know which printers are to be removed and which will stay in the department. DoIT also required the exception reasons in order to see whether common themes can inspire better features and functionality for the majority who will be using shared devices.

Examples of common requests for exception may be a documented disability, printers purchased with grant funds, retaining an emergency backup printer for an area or floor, special purpose printers such as those that print extra large documents, or cases where a unit can document a lower total cost of printing than the rates charged by DoIT.

Multi-Function Device (MFD) Features Included in the New Print Rate

Ink jet cartridges

  • Higher quality output that prints individual pages much faster.
  • Scanning with options to email a scanned copy to any email address.
  • Advanced finishing options like duplex (double-sided), collating and corner stapling.
  • Faxing for those areas who haven’t yet killed off this practice. Departments must make a special request to include the fax feature, but departments will not be charged a monthly fee for the fax (phone) line.
  • Letter-size (8.5x11), legal-size (8.5x14), and ledger-size (11x17) white paper and a document feeder on the side that allows users to feed in colored paper, letterhead, ledger-size paper, or other specialty papers. If departments have a color printer, they can also print on oversized ledger (12x18) white paper.
  • Starting in FY18, wired network jacks to enable networked and shared printing will not be charged for AnywherePrinters in departments.
  • Secure and suitable for confidential documents, allowing pages to print only when the requester is present to swipe their OneCard and removing unwanted print jobs from the queue within 24 hours.
  • Redundant and flexible locations. A single printer breakdown is of little consequence because print jobs can be picked up from any printer, anywhere on campus. If you’re meeting in another building and need to print something quickly, you need not have individual printer drivers installed on your laptop nor do you need to email someone your copy to print: just print and pick up where you are.
  • Faculty, staff and students can print from home, print by email, print from their phones. Print this morning, pick up this afternoon.
Departments may request additional options at cost:
  • envelope feeders at $3/month for users that routinely produce #9, #10, and business envelopes and don't want to use the side document feeder;
  • an external staple finisher at $26/month that allows users to select multiple staple options (e.g. three down the side of the page) rather than just one staple in the upper left corner;
  • automatic 2-3 hole punch at $9/month for users who don't want to request 3-hold drilled paper from DoIT at no additional cost.

More Information

For questions about how this project affects you and your department, please contact your local IT support person. If you have questions about specific makes and models of multi-function devices (MFDs) and the options available to your department, email

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is DoIT making this decision?

2. Why is DoIT denying the repair, replacement, or materials for printers that don’t belong to DoIT? How do I order supplies for my exempted printer?

3. I print every document I produce and don't want to reduce my printing. Do I have to justify my need to print? Why are you taking away my printer?

4. I purchase my own printer cartridges for the office printer. Why would you take away that printer?

5. Is this a new form of chargeback?

6. Does DoIT control everyone’s desktop connected to the NIU network and will they remotely disable any printer drivers not linked to DoIT printers?

7. Can I bring in my own printer from home and, if I do, will DoIT take it from me?

8. My printer is attached to scientific equipment. Will you take it away?

9. Is the AnywherePrints system secure?

10. Will printers be in locked locations for security?

11. Can I print to an AnywherePrinter from my phone?

12. Can I print to an AnywherePrinter from my home or off campus?

13. Will every building have a printer?

14. Who will purchase, deliver, store and load paper?

15. My department can print cheaper than your rates, so why is DoIT saying this will save money when the rates are actually going up?

16. Will we have enough printers in case one goes down?

17. Can’t I use my existing ink, toner, or printer until it expires and get all the life out of this existing printer and supplies?

18. How can I print something for someone else to pick up at a printer?

19. I bought my printer with grant money. Will you take it away?

20. Why can’t I request centralized printing from Document Services?

21. How will students and student employees or staff who work in multiple locations or departments be billed for printing?

22. How will students print in labs that allow "free" printing because of their tech fee?

23. Is duplexing (double-sided printing) on by default?

24. When printing on a color printer, does the document automatically come out in color or can I select to print only in black and white?

25. Will there be evening and weekend support hours for the printers or do I need to just find another printer until the next business day?

26. How long is my print job available for printing once it is sent to the AnywherePrints queue?

27. What sizes can I print? Can I still print on letterhead or envelopes?

28. My office uses colored paper for various forms. Will DoIT provide colored paper or only plain white?

29. Do we have to swipe a OneCard or will it be possible to enter a number instead? What happens if I've lost or damaged my OneCard?

30. My OneCard is really old. Will any NIU OneCard work with AnywherePrints?

31. I'm an employee at NIU. Can I use AnywherePrints for personal printing?

32. Can I print from a wireless device? What about NIUGuest?

33. I am currently using a Gordon Flesch printer in our office, but am being charged the higher 2016 rate. When will our rates be lowered?

34. How do I order toner and paper from DoIT for my AnywherePrinters?

35. I'm an employee/student employee with more than one NIU department as an employer. How do I know which cost center is being charged when I choose to bill to my department?

36. I have a temporary exception to keep my printer until my stocks of toner/ink cartridges run out. How long does toner last?