U of Calgary signs $40-million doc management deal with Xerox

The University of Calgary has started a $40-million document management project in partnership with Xerox Canada to deal with the estimated 72 million pieces of paper it produces across campus each year.

Xerox will take over print, fax, copy and scan devices under the seven-year contract, as well as associated contracts with other suppliers to reduce the administrative burden on university staff, the company said. The University of Calgary will also lean on Xerox’s expertise to develop a content management strategy that will reduce the amount of paper printed per person.

Harold Esche, the U of C’s CIO, said the project evolved from an internal survey which uncovered $8 million in annual printing costs, and a production of paper that would be roughly 46 times the height of the local landmark, the Calgary Tower. Esche said the research also showed the school was working with about 145 different copier models and 560 different printers.

“We found one printer that was older than incoming students,” Esche said. “We also started to look at our inconsistent print environment – there are some departments on campus where you would pay money to the department to print, and others where it was handled differently.”

The U of C will try to move towards greater use of electronic record capture, management and retention, Esche said, starting with its capital projects. The university spends around $750 million on building and improvement each year, and these projects tend to generate a lot of paper, he said.

“We recognize that’s not an overnight kind of thing,” he said. “It’s a lot of cultural change, it’s proving to people (content management tools offer) a viable mechanism.”

The change management problems associated with printed and electronic content are all too familiar to the Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA), whose Canadian arm is hosting a conference on the subject next week in Toronto. Irene Gelyk, president of ARMA’s Toronto chapter, said it’s not merely CIOs who are trying to ease the transition from paper to digital.

“It’s the records managers who are trying to get IT on side to push a lot of this forward as well,” she said.

The U of C was already using Xerox in its central print shop, which Esche said is running more efficiently than other parts of the campus print environment. The combined project time will strive to ensure new processes aren’t laborious for users, while adhering to emerging document and content management standards, he added.

“Things like XML will be key to where we go with this,” he said. “We want the ability to be able to spend less time to create metadata and do deeper searches into documents.”

Esche said he doesn’t necessarily expect the project to decrease the overall number of pages printed, but if the number of pages per person goes down, that might mean the 8,700 metres of paper spewing out across campus is being handled more cost-effectively.

“I don’t even want to begin to figure out how many trees that is,” he said.

Spokespeople for Xerox Canada could not be reached at press time.

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