George Mason University Leverages Aleyant Pressero for Increased Efficiency
George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Founded in 1972 on Virginia’s strong ideals of academic excellence and service, the University operates with a motto of Freedom and Learning, priding itself on a thriving, innovative and inclusive academic community. Its locations serve more than 39,000 students with nearly 10,000 faculty and staff. The University’s in-house all-digital print shop also reflects these values, providing printing services to staff, faculty, students, local businesses and the public.
“In early 2016, we transitioned from an internally run print shop to an operation managed by Canon Solutions America,” said Karen Saling, print shop manager and a Canon Solutions America employee. “Prior to joining Canon Solutions America, I worked in other roles in the University, and helped in the transition of the print shop to its current location.”
Saling explains that prior to Canon Solutions America taking over management of the operation, all work came in either via email or over the counter. “We did have an online system,” she notes, “but it was antiquated, and we didn’t use it. After looking at our requirements and the needs of our customers, Canon Solutions America recommended that we implement Aleyant Pressero for onboarding work. Today, all jobs come in through Pressero. We don’t accept phone or email submissions anymore; but, of course, we are happy to work with customers to help them place their online orders using Pressero.”
The Pressero implementation at George Mason consists of six different websites for job submission, two for each of the three campuses. Each campus has access to a tax-exempt website for official faculty or staff work, and public websites for personal use or for students or the public where taxes are incurred. “We have thousands of users,” Saling said, “including 3,300 faculty and staff users here at our Fairfax campus alone.”
“Having everything submitted through a single system helps with our billing,” Saling continued. “Plus, it is much more efficient. Previously, we had a staff of five that monitored emails and calculated pricing manually, and then directed work into production. Now another co-worker and I are managing all of the prepress. He takes care of prepress for black-and-white printing and manages the printers, while I take care of prepress for color printing. In effect, because prepress and job onboarding is not a full-time activity for either of us, we have gone from five employees to one full-time equivalent managing the prepress process. It’s been a huge improvement.”
Now as jobs come in, the responsible team member reviews the file since, as Saling explains, not all jobs that come in are print-ready. Once any necessary adjustments are made, a paper job ticket is created that enables the appropriate staff member to send jobs directly to the appropriate printer. In addition, pricing is automatically calculated based on Pressero’s pricing tables, giving users the opportunity to review pricing prior to submitting the order, which was not possible before.
Another benefit of Pressero compared to the previous process is the ability to manage multiple jobs simultaneously. Saling explains, “Our workflow before was linear, taking emails off the system one at a time, going to the appropriate printer, printing and wrapping that job, putting it on the shelf for delivery or pickup, and then moving on to the next job. Now it’s a much more multifaceted workflow, with everyone pitching in as jobs come off the printers to finish the work together.”
Saling has been generous in sharing her Pressero experience with several other educational institutions who are looking for a more efficient workflow. “I discuss with them how they currently receive work and the workflow they have in place,” she explained, “and share our story with them, discussing how implementing Pressero not only gets work through the shop faster but requires less labor. Then, of course, it’s up to them how they proceed. But I believe it helps them in their decision-making process to share our experience and how we have benefited from the new workflow.”
Saling is also very pleased with the customer service she receives from Aleyant. “If I have an issue,” she says, “I submit an online query, they create a ticket, and that ticket is not closed until I am completely satisfied. For example, I have had help from them in creating unique scenarios for my pricing engine. And if there is an issue with the website itself, I can place a ticket and either I’ll get a quick note back saying it is a known issue they are working on, or they help me figure out what is going on with my site.”
In one case, a bot infiltrated the George Mason system, creating tens of thousands of users; and while the users did nothing, they did create an administrative headache and a security risk. “These users seemed to come from all over the world,” Saling notes, “and it was like playing Whack-A-Mole to delete them. Aleyant was great in helping us identify the problem and implement CAPTCHA verification as an extra layer of security to prevent this from happening again. For a small shop like ours, it’s really important to have that level of support – fast and efficient – available to us. And Aleyant is a terrific partner in that respect.”