Web-to-Print Increases Business and Efficiency for School District
The Toronto District School Board is the largest in Canada, and one of the 10 largest in North America. Its 40,000 employees serve approximately 235,000 students in 583 schools throughout Toronto, and more than 100,000 life-long learners in adult and continuing education programs.
The district’s Printing Services operation serves customers in each of these locations, as well as more than 1,500 non-school district departments. Print jobs from office administrators, department administrators, and teachers include teaching booklets, tests, teaching tools, flyers, and business cards.
Printing Services, part of the logistics department, is a six-person operation, including one production coordinator who delegates work to the five print operators. The print center is overseen by Gulshan Thapar-Mohammed, logistics manager, along with an assistant manager who helps educate customers and walks them through their projects.
The district purchased WebCRD Web-to-print and ReadyPrint prepress software from Rochester Software Associates to provide a quicker, easier way for customers to submit jobs and for the print staff to reliably track and oversee jobs in process. The new system went live in late 2022.
Immediate Access, More Accurate Orders
In the past, all jobs were ordered through email or phone calls. Then jobs would be passed from one person to another. It was inefficient, and led to a lot of manual work and a lack of visibility of all jobs in process for both customers and print center staff. There was also a chance that job details would not be communicated accurately.
“With WebCRD in place, when orders are submitted by a customer, they show up right in our queue,” explains Thapar-Mohammed. Every operator can see every job, including when it came in, who submitted it, and what they requested. WebCRD provides reliability that the job will go directly and accurately into the queue without getting lost.
“The WebCRD portal has taken the place of staff needing to educate customers over the phone,” says Thapar-Mohammed. “We used to have to inform them of paper weight and sizes and various finishing choices each time, and now their choices are all laid out for them on the screen clearly. Our staff only needs to step in if an order seems odd.” With the SurePreview feature in WebCRD, customers and Printing Services staff can see exactly what each job is going to look like and make any needed changes before it is sent to the printer.
Greatly Accelerating Turnaround Time
“I’ve heard people calls us ‘The Amazon of the Toronto District School Board,’” says Thapar-Mohammed. “A majority of our smaller jobs are now turned around in one day.”
Consolidating the two print centers into one location working three shifts — and implementing WebCRD — increased productivity while achieving savings through a reduction of two high-speed copiers and one production coordinator through attrition.
The WebCRD production dashboard ensures print jobs aren’t lost during shift changes, they are run quickly, and staff can always see their status. With the print queue visible to all in-plant staff, they can select the jobs they’re most suited for and ensure simple and complex jobs are tackled effectively. Staff can also see exactly how many jobs are in the queue so they can better understand when they need to increase productivity.
Efficient Prepress: The Key to Speed
“The team likes ReadyPrint because it helps them make changes quickly,” says Thapar-Mohammed. “I like it because it helps keep billing accurate when those changes are made.”
Integration with WebCRD means operators can pull jobs into ReadyPrint, make needed changes, and put them right back into production. Ticketing stays intact, and pricing is automatically updated if something like new page numbering impacts cost.
With the manual system the in-plant previously used, material waste and lost print jobs were impossible to track. If there were errors and reprints, the print center couldn’t track exactly how many or which jobs were incorrect. While they knew they were losing money at times, staff didn’t have data to prove whether jobs were billed incorrectly, late, or unbilled entirely.
“We went live with WebCRD on October 31st, 2022, and I won’t forget that day,” says Thapar-Mohammed. “It is such a good thing for the department and the board to have a tool that can help us increase our business and our sales and actually show what we were doing.”
Cost Recovery for the Year: Already Achieved
When Printing Services purchased the software, the in-plant expected to be able to reach its sales goals within two or three years, but WebCRD’s accuracy and accountability has improved billing enough to allow the in-plant to reach its cost-recovery position for the year already, something that has not happened in a decade.
“We are now making sure that every job is submitted, completed, closed, and fulfilled,” says Thapar-Mohammed.
Toronto District School Board operates a revenue-neutral printing department. Printing service fees charged to schools, teachers, and departments must fully cover the costs of all materials, contracted items, leasing fees, and salaries. With the efficiency and accessibility of WebCRD and ReadyPrint Prepress software, Printing Services now plans to offer its services to outside customers. Revenue from these customers will supplement current income and help lower prices for school district customers.
Serving internal customers is the in-plant’s priority, however. Based on their requests, the in-plant recently started offering retractable banners, cards, invitations, and certificates.
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.