Southern University

Case Study: Southern University and A&M College

Ricoh Partners with Southern University to Modernize Print and Mail — and Set the Stage for Digital Transformation

About the customer

Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the flagship of the Southern University System, the only system of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the nation. The main campus is home to more than 1,500 administrative staff and more than 7,000 students. With six degree-granting colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs.

Also on the Baton Rouge landmass are the Southern University Law Center and Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Other campuses in the SU system are Southern University at New Orleans and Southern University Shreveport.
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Our partnership with Ricoh has allowed us to be more efficient and reduce costs.

Benjamin Pugh Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Southern University and A&M College

 

Challenge

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  • Lack of innovation for campus mail
  • Lackluster production printing capabilities
  • Slower, costly outsourced printing 
  • Aging, overgrown administrative printing fleet

The University had an existing Mail, Copier, and Production Center run by an outside provider that desperately needed an innovation makeover and greater expertise. Students retrieved mail in PO boxes that were so old they were difficult to open and they had to use keys that were frequently lost. There was also no system for notifying students that they had mail or packages so students had to routinely check the PO boxes. Students also didn’t have the option of buying packaging and other mailing supplies on site — requiring them to go off campus to purchase what they needed.

As for production print, the work produced wasn’t up to par with other universities. At recruitment fairs, the University staff saw a noticeable difference between the high-end flyers and other materials that competitive universities distributed to prospective students versus their lackluster materials. For jobs that called for high quality printing, the University outsourced the work to a commercial printer — which prolonged turnaround times and increased costs.

For campus printing, the University had a large fleet of multifunction printers installed throughout the campus that they wanted to upgrade for additional functionality and security. They also didn’t know if they had the right number of devices installed in the right places.

Results

 

 

  • Well-received mail services
  • Commercial grade production print quality
  • Reduced, modernized campus printing fleet
  • Poised for digital transformation, safer learning during pandemic

The modern mail services environment at the University has been very well received by the students, faculty, and staff. So much so, administrators rarely hear a complaint. Without any promotion of the capabilities, word traveled quickly about the center that’s located right in the high-traffic student union.

Production print is now being handled in-house at the center, producing a wide range of high-end work — recruitment materials, window clings, flyers, saddle-stitch booklets, classroom packets, exams, business cards, graduation banners, signage, calendars, event passes, and announcement cards. Outsourcing is rare, which has led to significant cost savings. The University now also has the ability to quickly and cost-effectively print pandemic-related signage to post around campus.

The campus printing fleet has been optimized with the right number of devices strategically placed to maximize efficiency. There are currently fewer than 200 devices across the entire 2 million-square-foot campus.

The University’s president has mandated automation wherever possible throughout the campus. For that effort, the University now has a partner with expertise and tools to help drive the digital transformation and prepare for students’ return to campus amid the global pandemic.

 

How We Did It

"Ricoh had a full-blown plan for new equipment, remodeling the print and mail center, and providing additional services. That was a huge selling point for us."

Benjamin Pugh Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Southern University and A&M College

 

  • Rebuilt and modernized the Mail, Copier, and Production Center
  • Installed technology to improve efficiency and quality
  • Analyzed campus print to optimize and right-size the fleet
  • Provided recommendations for digital transformation

Ricoh came in with one goal in mind — innovation. Innovation that would increase efficiency, improve quality, and reduce costs in the Mail, Copier, and Production Center as well as campus-wide printing. We did a complete build-out of the center to create a retail-like experience with boxes and packaging supplies to purchase. We installed high-density mailboxes and implemented a dynamic mail system that notifies students via email when packages and mail have arrived. We also installed software to verify each mail or package recipient via their student badge as well as tracking software to charge back bulk mail orders to University departments. In addition, we provided information about the various shipping methods — FedEx, UPS, and USPS — to help students, faculty, and staff get the best price.

After evaluating the equipment, software, types of jobs, and media types being used for production printing, we overhauled the center with new production printing and finishing equipment that would improve quality and efficiency. We also reviewed purchase orders for outsourced jobs and provided recommendations on work we could bring in-house for faster turnarounds and cost savings. In addition, we conducted a thorough analysis of the campus print fleet — pulling meter reads to assess output volumes and recommending ways to optimize and right-size the fleet. We also provided Managed Print Services and a full-time service technician to keep the fleet up and running.

Going forward, we’re talking to University leaders about digital transformation initiatives that would further improve efficiency and services. As the University prepares for a post-pandemic world, they see the benefit in installing intelligent lockers for touchless package retrieval and software for contactless print job release at the devices on campus. The University is also interested in automating its accounts payable process to ensure bills are paid promptly even if staff are working from home.

 
 
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