Document Automation Makes ‘Priceless Impact’ at Blue Valley Schools
Blue Valley Schools in-plant in Overland Park, Kan., serves a K-12 school district with 22,000 students whose dedicated teachers consume a great deal of printed matter. Despite a rising demand for hard-copy output, the in-plant has handled it without adding staff positions. It has also saved the district $1.4 million in printing costs and given back precious time to teachers—time they once spent at copying machines instead of at their daily lesson plans.
All of this is possible because most of the in-plant’s document production is now automated to the point where no one touches it until printed and bound copies are ready to be picked up from the output trays. Rochester Software Associates supplies the tools, and on September 12, Blue Valley’s Jason Gilliam and Paul Ackerman told fellow in-plant managers at an RSA-sponsored in-plant luncheon how they have learned to use the tools to such good effect.
Gilliam said when the in-plant began automating about 10 years ago by installing RSA’s WebCRD Web-to-print solution, it realized that the processing of orders had to be as efficient as their input. It also was important to reduce printing costs by bringing work back in-house and finding ways to produce no more, but no less, of what teachers needed for classroom materials.
One way of doing the latter is to buy rights to selected academic content instead of entire textbooks containing matter that teachers might not use. With the help of RSA software, the in-plant turns what it buys into PDFs that teachers can assemble from an online catalog into their own custom-curated course packs. (They can create and convert their own content as well.)
Ackerman said the one-click process is so efficient that the pack is on its way to being printed and bound on the shop’s digital presses within about 20 seconds after the teacher finishes inputting the specs.
One operator tends four machines, even at peak periods. Thanks to rules-based based processing in WebCRD, Ackerman said, 86% percent of the production in August—some 16,000 jobs—was fully automated.
But the real payoff, according to Ackerman, is the 30 to 45 minutes of daily lesson planning time that the RSA-enabled workflow has given back to Blue Valley teachers. This has had “a priceless impact on student learning,” he said.
Patrick Henry is the director of Liberty or Death Communications. He is also a former Senior Editor at NAPCO Media and long time industry veteran.