It’s a problem most school administrators face in South Africa: how to cut costs and make the most of tight budgets. At King Edward VII School (KES) in Johannesburg, they’re improving technology and cutting costs by looking in an unconventional direction – the school’s printers.

In fact, the school has slashed its printer and paper usage by half in the past couple of years, thanks to a long-standing relationship with managed services provider Itec Central, which has provided a custom-made solution based on the number of boys at the school and the demand for copier room services.

The school runs an enterprise-level printing operation: it has at least 3 enterprise-grade printer and copier devices, each capable of printing 1000 copies per minute, active at any time. It also has several ad-hoc smaller copiers for other identified areas, like the staffroom and areas where sensitive information is managed.

“We live in the digital age, but like most public schools, we still rely heavily on printed material,” said KES business manager Ian Sim. “With a custom print solution, Itec has given us the ability to keep our printer fleet current, while providing greater control over costs and everyday print needs.”

John Considine, the managing director of Itec Central, said schools like KES were under massive pressure to stay sustainable and keep within their budgets, but that didn’t have to mean sacrificing quality for cost-effective printing.

“A good starting point for any school is to look at what printing costs. How many pieces of paper will a child get in a year? What percentage of learners are allocated to the print budget? Every extra rand you spend on printing reduces the budget in other areas. With KES’ current print solution in place, the school has seen a 50% reduction in its total cost of operations for print,” said Considine.

A major part of the success of any printing solution is the relationship between the supplier and the provider. The KES and Itec Central relationship now spans 15 years, and has seen Itec make numerous recommendations for ways that the school could reduce unnecessary printing and increase efficiencies through ongoing monitoring and reporting of usage patterns.

“It’s vital to source your print services from a vendor that’s willing to put some skin in the game, and evolve with your needs,” said Sim. “Working with Itec Central truly is a partnership. When we have a challenge, they work with us to get it done. Itec has been integral to our ability to maintain the efficiency of our workflow, in the most cost-effective and sustainable manner possible.”