print management

Colleges: Here’s how to go digital without blowing your budget

Could print management hold the key to a more cost-efficient digital transition?

The key to achieving a successful digital transition without exceeding a budget might lie in print management, according to a survey from the Center for Digital Education.

A digital transformation rests on three foundational pillars–security, sustainability and streamlined operations. Print management can help higher-ed institutions overcome the financial challenges in these three pillars, according to the report.

The Center for Digital Education recently surveyed 162 higher education decision-makers about various areas of their print environment to gauge where they are on the path to transformation and how they are overcoming budget and spending barriers.


As institutions move to digital, security concerns become more important than ever.

(Next page: Security, sustainability and streamlined operations)

Because student records and intellectual property stored on campuses contain large amount of personally identifiable information (PII), hackers are increasingly targeting institution systems and databases. Survey respondents are concerned: 76 percent said they already have policies in place to secure institutional property.

While institutions secure their networks, they sometimes fail to properly protect end-point devices such as printers. In the CDE survey, only 19 percent of respondents said they were very confident their print environment is secure.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they are already taking steps to protect sensitive information through proper print management by requiring users to input a code to retrieve printed documents, which prevents sensitive information from being left in output trays where unintended recipients might have access to it.

Certain multifunction printers can store print jobs digitally on a centralized secure server.

Another element of secure printing is educating staff on its importance. Many higher education institutions have met this need–43 percent said they offer discussions, trainings, and alerts about secure printing.


Moving from print to digital reduces paper use and reliance on other natural resources, which increases cost savings. Almost one-third of survey respondents said their campus is taking measures to reduce printing over the next two years.

Fifty-one percent encourage two-sided printing, 47 percent are increasing the use of digital materials, and 43 percent limit color printing. Others are implementing a print management strategy that encourages faculty and staff to scan and share documents digitally using multi-function printers supports sustainability and transformation efforts. Analyzing printing use patterns by department or user could encourage more environmentally-conscious and budget-friendly behavior.

Streamlining workflows

Higher-ed institutions also can save money during digital transitions by streamlining and automating their workflow processes.

While 51 percent of respondents said they are transitioning from print-based to digital workflows, gaps still exist in current automated workflows, including gaps in:

  • Intuitive, user-friendly tools (32 percent)
  • More training and PD (31 percent)
  • Workflow solutions that integrate with existing technologies (30 percent)
  • More automation (24 percent)
  • Better access to information and documentation (19 percent)
  • Reliable security measures (10 percent)

Organizational barriers hindering modernization from print-based to digital workflows include:

  • Cost (38 percent)
  • Lack of staffing resources (36 percent)
  • Other competing priorities (30 percent)
  • Lack of faculty/employee support (28 percent)
  • Inadequate digital infrastructure outside of the solution (20 percent)
  • State and federal reporting isn’t automated (7 percent)

Laura Ascione