Complex Courseware with On-Demand Digital Printing. (A Vendor-Provided Case Study)

Article excerpt

Jackie Damrau started 2002 with some trepidation. The leaner economic times had all companies looking at their spending, including the training and development department at Perot Systems Corporation in Plano, Texas. Perot Systems has more than 9000 associates who receive training. In Damrau's position as the team lead for the t&d instructional design and development team, she (and her team) continually review cost-savings measures.

"We were looking for every possible way to trim costs while maintaining our high standards," says Damrau. "All of our courses are instructor-led and, therefore, rely heavily on our printed materials. We want our materials to look professional, so we rely on our print vendor to provide us with high-quality output and delivery."

On a yearly basis, Perot Systems offers multiple training and development courses that are core to its curriculum. It also offers a number of specially designed one-off courses for specific business units, as well as custom courses for external clients as part of a project or contract.

Damrau found a solution that helps her team maintain quality while significantly reducing the print budget: on-demand digital printing.

On-demand printing provides users of print services the benefits of just-in-time production--a system by which businesses keep just enough raw materials and parts on hand to meet current demand. Because inventories are kept low, capital isn't tied up. On-demand digital printing also provides the highest possible quality document printing at a cost substantially less than off-set. It also has the last-minute flexibility that's so necessary in this fast-changing world of information technology.

In late 2001, Damrau started moving all of her department's printing needs to an on-demand digital printing service provided by Mimeo Inc., a browser-based printer that enables user-to-print complex, color and black-and-white documents to its high-speed digital printer, located next to the runway at shipping hubs for FedEx and UPS in Memphis, Tennessee. Users can look at and make changes to the entire document--set up the tabs, make sure the sections are correct, choose the binding and cover--in their Web browsers before they print. When they're satisfied, they hit print--lust as if the printer were in the same room with them.

After the user enters the addresses of the people who need to receive the documents (or clicks on the addresses in their online address book), the documents are printed and delivered by 8:30 the next morning if desired, as long as they are printed by 10 EST the night before.

According to Damrau, her team at Perot Systems achieved a 26 percent year-over-year cost savings on printing in 2002 versus 2001. Here's how.

Making the switch helped get rid of wasteware. On-demand means just that: printing what you need when you need it in exactly the correct quantities from five to 5000 or more. No bulk buying. Before using on-demand print services, Perot Systems typically ordered bulk print runs of materials from local print shops in advance of a course to save money. Inevitably, that sometimes led to the storage and eventual removal of dated materials, reducing any cost savings associated with bulk orders. Using on-demand digital printing reduced errors. …