Print Optimisation Program

Philippe Aubé

Alain Boulet is a Senior Project Manager at CBC/Radio-Canada since June 2011 and has been in the IT service business for more than 20 years. He was previously Director of Services Administration, responsible for the cost optimisation of IT services at Bombardier Aerospace. He took an active role in the replacement of the printer fleet as a way of significantly reducing service costs and optimising print usage worldwide.

POP – An Example of Service-Oriented IT Delivery & Best IT Business Practice


The Print Optimisation Program (POP) currently underway at CBC/Radio-Canada is an innovative project in many ways. The use of new, efficient printing, copying, and faxing devices, combined with a respect of optimal Information Technology (IT) project management principles, makes the most of a progressive deployment strategy that generates short-term benefits and the application of the printing industry’s best practices, all in the interest of providing better services at lower costs. The following IT guiding principles were underlined throughout the project:

  • IT as a service: emphasise simplicity and quality of service, all whilst minimising impact on the client.
  • User-friendly interfaces: make ample use of touch screen technology, multifunction devices, and Web interfaces.
  • Global service availability: seize the advantages offered by Web-based services, mobile service, and digital communication.
  • Environmental sustainability: put the accent on footprint reduction and low energy consumption.
  • Rapid return on investment: an approach that provides quick wins and short-cycle delivery.
  • Corporate solution: deliver a company-wide solution that includes a reduction in the number of vendors and the amount of outsourcing.
  • Proactive approach: make the most of monitoring services, alert generation, process automation, and continuous improvement.

Let’s take a more detailed look at how the project was carried out and the benefits that it generated.

Business Context

In 2010, CBC/Radio-Canada started working toward optimising its global printing services. Three main IT principles were applied in the execution of this project: the original goal was not only to save money, but also to become an even better corporate citizen by reducing CBC/Radio-Canada’s environmental footprint, reducing paper consumption within the organisation by 25%, and improving the overall quality of printing services across the corporation.

The project began with a pilot implementation in Ottawa in 2011, and, together with CBC/Radio-Canada’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB), IT quickly recognised the benefits of the program and its clear return on investment. The estimated average cost of printing per page went from approximately six cents down to roughly four cents; these figures encompass both black & white and colour printing combined.

Following the success of this pilot implementation, CBC/Radio-Canada’s Board of Directors gave the project its final approval in November 2011, after reviewing the five-year plan and the financial benefits of an enterprise-wide implementation. CBC/Radio-Canada started to replace its aging and obsolete printers and copiers with state-of-the-art Energy Star[i]-certified multifunction printers, which provide a full set of services and features.

Maintaining the current printing fleet had become very expensive and inefficient, mainly due to the high price of toner and the level of technical support it required. CBC/Radio-Canada has chosen to properly dispose of the old devices while replacing them with the newest and most efficient printers available on the market. The new fleet is made up of a limited number of efficient models made by Lexmark and Canon, which made the deployment process simple and efficient. In order to give employees the ability to easily access the new printers within their offices, or remotely, without IT intervention; in fact, a Web-based interface was created to facilitate self-service, which is available on CBC/Radio-Canada’s Intranet.

In 2002, CBC/Radio-Canada chose to create an environmental policy, and optimising the organisation’s print services had to follow the guidelines laid out in that policy. In order to comply with it, CBC/Radio-Canada had to reduce the number of devices, recycle older printing equipment (printers, copiers, fax machines) and replace them with environmentally-friendly equipment. The new devices are compliant with the highest standards in health and safety, and they do not contain harmful substances. Given that the new devices emit no fumes, they contribute to better air quality within the workplace.

CBC/Radio-Canada has selected two preferred vendors, Lexmark and Canon, who offer the best equipment in a variety of categories, and established a good business relationship with both vendors. The program creates even more added value by leveraging the organisation’s buying power in volume purchases and a five-year service commitment. This is the very definition of an enterprise-wise solution, which follows the principles espoused by CBC/Radio-Canada’s Technology Strategy Board.

Additionally, CBC/Radio-Canada is promoting the use of double-sided printing to reduce the amount of sheets of paper used, and the Corporation strongly encourages the use of black & white printing instead of colour whenever possible. The cost of colour prints is approximately five to six times greater than that of black & white.

Business Guiding Principles

Essential objectives were defined in order to attain the right level of support with the new print services. The IT group is providing all aspects of the print services: printing, copying, scanning, and faxing.

The business guiding principles directing the project are the following:

  • Centralise the purchase to lower the cost of acquisition.
    The centralised acquisition process allowed CBC/Radio-Canada to negotiate volume purchases with significant discounts. The global management of the printing fleet allows CBC/Radio-Canada to continuously monitor its usage, making the necessary adjustments in case of over/under-utilisation of some devices.
  • Mobility (Ubiquity)
    The ability to select and use a similar device within the same office, or a different one, is extremely convenient for CBC/Radio-Canada’s employees, whether it is a matter of finding an alternate printing device in case of failure or simply moving to a new office.
  • Cost saving - Pay as you go/Cost per page model
    In the context of this solution, all costs are included: installation, service/maintenance, and toner are now provided as needed. The monitoring service sends an alert when the toner level reaches 10% and the consumables are sent back to the person responsible for the devices for future use. How many times have employees faced a cabinet full of cartridges without being able to find the right one? The cost of maintaining this inventory and the burden involved in reordering were inefficient. With the new printing services, the cost per page is low (corporate printing volume was taken into account) and the rate is fixed for the term of the agreement; there will be no increases due to obsolescence or cost of toner changes.
  • Confidentiality
    The employee has the ability to send printed documents to a temporary secure space inside of the printer to be released by entering a Personal Identification Number (PIN). This allows for confidential printing and convenient grouping of your print requests.

    As things stand currently, when employees use the central printers, they often find a number of unclaimed documents, rather than the one just printed.

    For a long time, personal printers were considered the answer to a need for confidentiality. Those printers are inexpensive to purchase but the cost of toner or cartridges is often very high. Secure print[ii] offers great control and will remove any prints not claimed after three hours, which increases the degree of security if they have been forgotten.

  • Environmental footprint
    Reduction of the number of non-energy-compliant and obsolete printing devices contributes towards a reduction of CBC/Radio-Canada’s environmental footprint. Proper disposal and recycling of the printers containing potentially harmful substances have been carried out at a dependable facility. Reducing our paper consumption by printing on both sides of the sheet will also go a long way towards saving trees.

Agile Implementation & Deployment

Using the findings from the pilot project launched in 2011 at CBC/Radio-Canada offices in Ottawa, CBC/Radio-Canada is gradually replacing all of the Corporation’s existing printers. Inefficient, unreliable, expensive-to-maintain devices, which may contain harmful substances, are being replaced with new ones that comply with the latest regulations.

CBC/Radio-Canada has standardised on seven different models of Energy Star machines that contain less metal and fewer chemicals, and that offer a greater number of options such as double-sided printing, scanning, copying, and faxing.

CBC/Radio-Canada’s Toronto Broadcast Centre was the first major site to undergo the change. The response from the user community has been excellent, as it was ready for the environmental sustainability and the improved service. Some adjustment might be required with time, as CBC/Radio-Canada continuously looks for improvements and business requirements might change. Quick process cycles with small groups of users made the project very agile and responsive to business needs.

Looking at CBC/Radio-Canada’s Toronto facilities alone, here is a glimpse of our progress so far, as of July 2012. The reduction in the total number of printing devices was greater than 70%. On average, the printer-to-user ratio has increased from 2.4 to 8.6 users per machine, which represents the best-in-class industry standard. Most printing is rendered in the less-expensive option of black & white (86%) versus colour (14%), providing significant savings.

Fax machines are being replaced by CallPilot software, resulting in paperless fax communication and a reduction in the need for analogue lines, which are expensive to maintain.

Nearly 900 printing devices, representing over 4,500 kg of electronic waste, were recycled by our certified environmental partner, Global Electric Electronic Processing (GEEP).

La Maison de Radio-Canada in Montreal is the second major site and many other sites are in the process of preparing to be equipped with the new printing devices.

This project exemplifies CBC/Radio-Canada’s concerted efforts to run a smart business that allocates its limited funds to its core business, programming services, while employing the best contemporary environmental practices.

To facilitate the nationwide implementation, IT has started to gather device inventories in multiple regional sites in order to facilitate and accelerate the overall deployment. Any site that is scheduled to undergo a location change will be targeted for deployment to enable the new print service at the same time.

Overall, the current fleet should be reduced to approximately 1,600 devices from the currently estimated total of 4,800 across Canada during the course of moving from personal or departmental printers to a service-oriented corporate print solution.

Critical Success Factors

Ultimately, the success of the Print Optimisation Program is determined by the following critical factors:

  • Centralisation and enforcement of standards and guidelines for all output acquisitions;
  • Reduction in the number of vendors (Strategic Vendor Management) and consolidation of the models of multifunction devices and printers;
  • Automation of toner ordering, limiting the stocking, and reducing the variety of supplies (keeping things simple);
  • Connection to the network of all printers and multifunction devices and their monitoring via a combination of software tracking tools for diagnostics and page volume tracking;
  • Replacement of older devices, rather than repair;
  • Reduction in the number and complexity of support calls; and
  • Continuous measurement of results and making adjustments according to requirements (continuous improvement).

The Future

Some additional features will eventually improve how CBC/Radio-Canada’s employees work. For example, having the ability to print directly to a multifunction device without installing its printer drivers could be a nice add-on for mobile devices.

Digitising colour documents in PDF format at about one tenth the size of the previous format will allow more documents to be shared via email or easily filed for future reference.

A Print Optimisation team space is available to get access to information such as announcements, a complete electronic manual with step-by-step explanations, a training schedule, and many other documents as they become available on CBC/Radio-Canada’s Intranet.

In order to maintain efficiency, the print fleet will be monitored on a monthly basis for accuracy and analysed quarterly for trending purposes. IT will have the ability to make recommendations and proceed with necessary adjustments as part of a continuous improvement process to maintain the momentum and continue to keep costs down.


CBC/Radio-Canada has chosen to enhance and improve the efficiency of its printing services. The Information Technology department recognises its role as a solid partner with the organisation’s business components, and the need to rapidly adapt to a constantly changing market. The Print Optimisation Program (POP) is a very good example of a project that has an impact on everyone at CBC/Radio-Canada. It may require adjustments to current business practices in some cases and need to be constantly monitored to maintain the highest level of service and efficiency.

Reminders & Tips

  • Always print on both sides if possible. Multiple prints per page are a good way to share information for review.
  • Use black & white for regular or draft print jobs and use colour printing wisely. A small colour logo on a page is not worth a colour print.
  • Using the Secure Print feature all the time is a good way to ensure security and maintain control over your documents. It also gives the user an opportunity to cancel unwanted revisions.

[i] Energy Star is an international standard for energy efficient consumer products originated in the United States of America. Devices carrying the Energy Star service mark, such as computer products and peripherals, kitchen appliances, buildings, and other products, generally use 20% to 30% less energy than required by federal standards.

[ii] Secure Print is the ability to store documents in the printer’s memory until the user requests the print job by entering a PIN number into the printing device.

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