Joanne Jones joined The Marches Academy Trust in 2013 as the Business Manager when The Marches School was a single school academy, the first in Shropshire to academise. Now she is the Trust Business Director with four schools in the Trust and one more joining in April 2019.
“Part of my role involves constantly reviewing the services schools are using to ensure we procure smartly and achieve best value for money. Straight away I realised we needed to look at printing as this was an area that we were not managing effectively and where we could definately reduce costs,” explains Joanne.
Marches Academy had an unmanaged fleet of around 84 standalone printers and 7 MFDs with little cost control, and keeping tabs on consumables spend was extremely troublesome.
The project saw the existing devices replaced with 23 printing hubs strategically located around the buildings. FollowMe printing enables staff to dispatch a print job, then securely access their printing by inputting a unique reference or fob to release the documents. “I can send documents to the printer and collect from outside the room I’m meeting in which is very useful. It also ensures confidentiality and reduces mistaken printing,” adds Joanne.
Joanne had some early challenges, “It was a big project that had it’s teething problems particularly taking away people’s desktop devices. Once staff realised the purpose behind the project, coupled with increased print quality and the remit of reducing cost and improving confidentiality, it does work through. It is now second nature.”
Joanne has also stuck with B2 through some early bumps in the road. “If you are going to test a business partnership, sometimes you do have to go through the rough together in order to know that you are dealing with people that will sort something out for you. So that’s been a real positive for me.”
Understanding the specific requirements and usage patterns in education is critical to the success of a good print infrastructure as Joanne highlights, “Schools are not a run-of-the-mill business. Often we have six or seven weeks of term time printing when we really peak the system, followed by a holiday period when naturally usage goes down drastically, so things like keeping up with toner supply and demand is critical. B2 now have a higher level of understanding of what a school needs to run an efficient print system with reliable delivery of toners.”
On going service is critical to ensure device uptime. “Since the fleet changed to Toshiba with B2’s own service support, we get an immediate response from engineers. We’re not in an easy place to get to in rural Shropshire. But as long as we get the call in to the service team in the morning, an engineer will visit that afternoon. So we’re usually back online well within 24 hours.”
Cost saving was the original driver. “Nobody wants to spend money on printing – it’s a necessary evil. We’re always looking at ways of bringing that budget share down. The controls that FollowMe printing bring such as locking down colour usage enable us to do that.”
“We always talk in terms of the impact on teaching and learning. Every penny saved on the necessary evils are to be spent on putting a teaching professional in front of the children. Our annual savings on printing effectively equate to the salary of a teacher.”
In addition to cost benefits, The Marches Academy Trust now enjoy improved confidentiality through FollowMe printing. “The impact of sensitive personal data being mislaid or printed out and left on the machine would have far reaching complications, leaving us non-compliant with data protection and potentially being reported to the ICO. The fines under the recent implementation of the GDPR are huge and would impact hugely on the Academy Trust,” confirms Joanne.
Joanne is also confident in the quality of correspondence to parents and potential employees. “It all helps with first impressions,” she clarifies. “It’s about the wider customer perception of what we’re doing. If a worksheet is not straight, that says a lot about your care and attention to other things and that’s where we can demonstrate some real improvement.”
“We’re always looking to attract the best possible teachers and staff, teaching motivated students ultimately results in high achievements. Attracting the right people for our organisation starts with the information they receive from us – recruitment packs, letters and information books – that we print in house. We also want parents to make our school their first choice for their children. Our image plays a big part in making that final choice.”
Joanne values the B2 people she and her colleagues deal with. “Technical support from Leon Darbey (Professional Services team) has been excellent. He’s been an absolute rock, and never once turned away from anything that requires a higher level of technical knowledge. He works closely with schools’ tech teams and is prepared to get on and do it. His technical knowledge is incredible. We trust him implicitly to get on and do things.”
In 2018, B2 upgraded Sir John Talbot’s School and added Tilstock Primary School, also in the Trust, to create one central domain for all the schools. This saved them money on software licence costs and allows staff to travel freely between the three schools and release their print from any device academy wide. They have automated scheduled reporting to the department heads and Trust leaders which breaks down print usage quarterly for each school.
The cost of print in terms of budget and reputation cannot be overlooked by any school. As Joanne succinctly puts it, “Something as simple as a print management system actually impacts on all of the organisation.” Her confidence in B2 devices, software and people secured two further academy contracts within the Trust, as well as a renewal of The Marches School contract.