peshkova - Fotolia
As part of a major shift to digital, Leeds City Council switched from its own poorly managed print service to Canon’s organisation-wide centralised printing system.
Andrew Byrom, the council’s service and infrastructure manager, said the print system is being used as a platform to enable the authority to change the way it operates.
“We are now looking at the potential of implementing digital mailroom and hybrid mail,” he says. “The print contract is the opportunity to bring these other things in.”
One example is the number of letters the council sends to the same address – why not put them all in one envelope and save money, says Byrom.
Like most local authorities, Leeds will have to make significant savings over the next few years, and the council is struggling to drive efficiencies.
“Ultimately, staff are going to have to go,” says Byrom. “So you need to have contracts in place that are easy to use, with tools that are easy to use. It was never just about print, it’s about a digital shift.”
Although printing seems a small issue, the council has saved £400,000 so far, and reduced its print volume by 25% by buying a new system. The council is looking to reduce print by a further 5% a year, so by the end of the five-year contract with Canon, it will have achieved a 45% reduction.
Security – a key problem in public services – has also been improved.
Read more about local government
- Local Digital Coalition takes over from Department for Communities and Local Government’s local digital programme with the aim of delivering joined-up local services.
- Local government needs a local version of the Government Digital Service (GDS) with dedicated in-house digital teams, says Socitm.
“There is a risk in terms of security from people printing documents and leaving them,” says Byrom. “It could be equally as damaging as leaving your laptop on the train if you leave the wrong report on the train. We have put in place all sorts of security policies.”
Byrom says he can even look at who has printed what, and if there are departments with excessive amounts of printing, which can be dealt with.
“We have still got those bad behaviours – if you walk into a meeting and there are stacks of paper there,” he adds. “Why are you printing agendas and minutes? Take your laptop.”
The council also has a policy about staff having to sign in to print, with individual PIN access, and after 24 hours, jobs are deleted from the system. It is about changing the culture, says Byrom.
The council is also working with local hospital trusts and clinical commissioning groups on a collaboration project to build a city-wide platform. “Printing will be part of that,” says Byrom.
Services are already being consolidated, with police, council staff and healthcare all working together to share contact centres and buildings. But there is another problem here when it comes to sharing.
“We have got huge agendas around shutting buildings, sharing and consolidating,” says Byrom. “But we have the daft scenario where people have to say ‘that’s the PC for the police’ or ‘that’s the PC for the council’, and that’s just madness,” he says.
“It’s got to change. We need to get to the position where it is a ubiquitous network and you’re all sharing the same equipment. We want people to be able to work anywhere, which is where we need to get to.”