New academic year, better print solutions contract?

The dawn of a new academic year is a time of rejuvenation and fresh beginnings for educational establishments. However, amidst the flurry of activity, one essential aspect often gets overlooked – print solutions. 

The procurement process for printers and photocopiers can be complex, with various considerations and challenges to navigate. We will guide you through making well-informed choices, controlling costs, and ensuring that you have the right assets to meet your printing needs not just for the present but for the years to come. 

Why the right contract matters

Printers and photocopiers are invaluable tools in educational establishments. However, they can be expensive, and costs can quickly accumulate, especially if you don’t have the right contract in place. Let’s delve into the key factors to consider: 

  • Usage and Price Plans: It’s essential to assess how much your school uses these machines and the price per copy you have in place. Understanding your usage patterns and costs is the first step to effectively control expenses. 
  • Capital Purchase vs. Long-Term Lease: The decision between a capital purchase or a long-term lease should align with your school’s specific needs for both the present and future. It’s an investment in the long-term success of your establishment. 
  • Quality and Reliability: Quality products are paramount. Ensure that the products you choose are of high quality, reliable, well-maintained, and capable of meeting your print requirements throughout the contract duration. 
  • Budget and Environmental Goals: Consider your budget limitations and environmental objectives, including net carbon zero goals. Assess factors like print speed, colour or monochrome printing, and eco-friendly options. Every decision should be a step toward sustainability. 

Three Key Questions Before Procurement

Before diving into the procurement process, ask yourself these three key questions: 

  • Current Machine Usage: What do you use your current machines for? Understanding your present needs is the first step in selecting the right equipment. 
  • Enhancement Opportunities: Are there functions you don’t currently have that could enhance your output, or are there functions you pay for but don’t require? Identifying these opportunities can lead to significant cost savings and resource optimisation. 
  • Future Requirements: The academic landscape is ever evolving. Are your print requirements likely to change in the foreseeable future? Consider factors such as hybrid working, paperless documentation, changes in staff, or the possibility of a new building. The more future-ready your print solutions, the more cost-effective they will be in the long run. 

Understanding Your Print Costs

Understanding the cost of your print services is crucial. To gain insights into what you print and how much it costs, request a full breakdown of charges from your existing supplier. Calculate your annual printing costs, accounting for peak printing times like Christmas, exams, or report periods. 

Keep in mind that some print solutions contracts may have monthly costs that are not fixed. Therefore, calculate any annual increases for a more accurate comparison. It’s worth noting that our preferred suppliers offer fixed charges for the entire contract, ensuring consistency in costs. 

Avoiding Contract Confusion

As you venture into the procurement process, be cautious of contracts that expose you to unnecessary costs. Some suppliers may offer low initial prices but add hidden costs like delivery charges, scanning fees, high staple costs, minimum contract charges, usage limits, or excess copy charges. These hidden fees, often buried in fine print, can lead to unexpected expenses, and disrupt your budget planning. 

Re-Manufactured and Refurbished Devices

Re-manufactured and refurbished devices can be cost-effective alternatives that align with sustainability goals. These devices go through rigorous factory processes and often come with performance and functionality guarantees. Consider the following: 

  • Trial Period: Check if the supplier offers a trial period for the refurbished asset. This can provide peace of mind and a practical understanding of how the device performs in your specific environment. 
  • Performance Guarantees: Ensure the supplier offers performance guarantees and the sustainability of parts and toner. A commitment to quality and reliability is key. 
  • Fixed Cost per Page: Consider negotiating a fixed cost per page, which can simplify budgeting and reduce uncertainties. 
  • Environmental Accreditations: Verify if the device has the latest environmental and emissions accreditations. Commit to eco-friendly printing and a sustainable future. 

Leasing Considerations

Leasing can be advantageous because it allows you to forward plan and control expenditure without committing a substantial upfront sum. 

However, keep in mind that you won’t own the equipment at the end of the lease agreement. To avoid complications down the road, ensure that your service and lease agreements run parallel. This will prevent you from being tied to one supplier when you next look to purchase a photocopier. 

Social Value and SECR Reporting

Each school and multi-academy trust has its own drivers and targets for social value, environmental initiatives, and local sourcing. Suppliers should be your allies in these endeavours. They should help you meet reporting requirements on carbon reductions, energy efficiencies, environmental impact, and contributions to the local economy. Collaborate with partners who share your vision for a sustainable future. 

Planning Ahead with Education Buying

Preparing for the new academic year requires thoughtful planning. To avoid hidden charges and make well-informed decisions, we recommend using a framework agreement like Education Buying’s Printer and Copier framework. This self-serve platform offers the benefits of pre-vetted, trusted suppliers, ensuring you get the best price possible. 

With renowned suppliers like ASL, Ricoh, Toshiba, and Vision, we understand the unique challenges schools face in the procurement process. By choosing Education Buying, you select a partner dedicated to your budgetary well-being and the quality of your print solutions. 

Make the Right Choices for a Successful Academic Year

In summary, preparing for the new academic year goes beyond classrooms and curricula. Selecting the right printers and photocopiers is a strategic decision that requires careful consideration. By controlling costs, making informed choices, and accounting for future needs and environmental goals, you can ensure a successful start to the academic year. 

Choose Education Buying as your trusted partner in this journey. Our framework, featuring ASL, Ricoh, Toshiba, and Vision, provides cost-effective and quality solutions tailored to your unique requirements. Together, we can navigate the challenges of procurement, ensuring a smooth and productive academic year.