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Smart
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Our campus partners:

Procurement
ITS
NCS
 


Our suppliers:

Digitec
RJ Young Co.
Canon Solutions America
Konica-Minolta


Frequently
Asked Questions

1. What is the Smart Printing Initiative? 2.What equipment is supplied through the plan?
3. Does it replace the old Copier and Fax Program? 4.Are service and supplies included?
5. Is this function part of e-procurement? 6. How do I pay for my machine?
7. Can I return or replace my machine as my needs change, as I could under the old program? 8. Is this the same as VUprint, the library and lab system for network printing?
9. If I choose a networked, multifunction machine, will it be compatible with Vanderbilt's network? 10. What is a document assessment?
11. Is there a choice of suppliers through the plan? 12. Do I get the best price through the plan?
13. Does my department have responsibilities under the program if we decide to place a Smart Printing machine? 14. Can I benefit from other departments' experience in selecting my supplier and machine?
15. Why do I have to enter my password to access parts of this site? 16. Is there training available as part of the plan?
17. Can I obtain a machine for a short-term or one-time program or event? 18. What if my machine just won't work?
19. Can I charge my machine to multiple center numbers? 20. Do other institutions have this kind of program?
21. Why can I only order one or two of each supply item on the supply page? 22. Why is there a per-copy charge for color?  Isn't the point of the program to have flat, predictable charges?
23. What exactly is a key operator?  Can he or she unlock my desk if I forget my keys? 24. Why is there a three-year term on program machines?
25. What if I only need a very small fax? 26. What is the difference between a serial number and a machine ID number?
27. Can I purchase a Smart Printing machine outright? 28. What exactly is a multifunction device?
29. How fast is service response? 30. Can I recycle my Smart Printing toner cartridges?
31. Why is IKON no longer part of the program? 32. Can all of the Smart Printing vendors support Star Panel?
33. Does Smart Printing have policies in place to address data security on copiers? 34. Why did I get a call from someone promising me a deal on toner when I get my toner through the SmartPrinting program?
35. Why do Smart Printing charges have to go into account 81245?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


1. What is the Smart Printing Initiative?

It is a coordinated, campus-wide effort to bring much of Vanderbilt's copying and network printing equipment under a single umbrella.

It aims both to manage the University's costs and to enhance service to the campus community by leveraging the buying power and expertise of the institution as a whole.

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2. What equipment is supplied through the plan?

Copiers, faxes, and multi-function devices (MFD's) are our focus. Multi-function machines are mainly copier-style units which have been fitted with additional equipment to fax, scan, and/or print from a network.  Color machines are available in the copier and MFD catergories.

Laser printers are not included in this program, however, as Vanderbilt already has procedures in place for acquiring and supporting them.

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3. Does it replace the old Copier and Fax Program?

Yes, it does. The Copy Center will administer the new program in place of the old one.   Since the old plan ran for more than twenty years, you can feel confident that although Smart Printing is new, there is a great deal of experience behind it.

Machines installed under the previous program will continue to be serviced and supplied under the same rules until existing agreements expire.

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4. Are supplies and service included?

Yes, except for paper. All other supplies and service for program machines will be easily accessible through this web page, and are included in the monthly machine cost.

Paper is ordered through the University's normal office supply channels.

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5. Is this plan part of e-procurement?

No. E-procurement is for transactions which must be paid for individually. Since supplies and service under this plan are automatically paid for as part of your monthly payment, requests for them do not need to flow through that system.

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6. How do I pay for my machine?

Once you have decided to acquire a program machine, you will sign a short agreement. This authorizes the Smart Printing program to make a monthly charge to your budget. This charge will be automatic and will continue until the agreement on your machine is up, typically three years.

However, we also offer the option of cash purchases if leasing does not meet your needs. Procedures for this are somewhat different; you will be able to benefit from the program pricing matrix, and the SmartPrinting staff will be available to help resolve any issues with the supplier. However, you will be responsible for paying separately for your own maintenance and supplies.

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7. Can I return or replace my machine as my needs change, as I could under the old program?

Generally, yes.  Flexibility in this respect has been a goal of both the old and new plans.

We do encourage all users to honor the three-year agreement that exists on each machine—this helps hold down costs for the suppliers and the program.

However, in case of real need, most of our suppliers have procedures in place for returning or replacing the equipment early without penalty.  If there is a departmental reorganization or closure, a sustained change in workload, or other substantive issue, the Copy Center director will review the situation and can authorize early termination or replacement.

(We should mention that IKON never permits penalty-free returns.  Any machine from this supplier returned early will require that all remaining lease payments be made at termination.)

The early-return process is separate from that which will be used if a machine needs to replaced due to poor performance—see our "lemon law" under question 18.

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8. Is this program the same as VUPrint, the library and lab system for networking printing?

No, that is a separate program, aimed more at students and individuals, which charges per printout. Our initiative generally serves departmental needs, at a monthly fee.

(Visit the VUPrint page here.)

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9. If I choose a networked machine, will it be compatible with Vanderbilt's network?

Yes. Information Technology Services and Network Computing Support have been involved in this process and have helped develop networking standards which all our suppliers will follow. This includes agreement to abide by all our data security rules and practices.

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10. What is a document assessment?

This is a new benefit which our program brings to Vanderbilt in a coordinated way for the first time. Each supplier will, on your request, perform an analysis of your workflow and output needs, and recommend a coordinated solution for your entire workgroup/department.This is called a document assessment, and this approach is increasingly recognized by large organizations as an effective cost-management technique.

The traditional one-by-one replacement of old devices with new ones is reduced or eliminated by this means. Instead, it is replaced by a sophisticated analysis of many factors, such as physical workplace layout, number of people involved, documents produced both routinely and occasionally, and the printed copies needed (or not needed!) for your work to proceed smoothly.

Once your assessment is complete and you are satisfied that it reflects your operations accurately, the supplier will recommend new equipment based on this data. The assessment can be used as both a short- and a long-term planning tool, and need not be implemented all at once.

The document assessment is an optional but recommended part of the machine-replacement process in our program.

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11. Is there a choice of suppliers through the plan?

Yes, this was a key requirement when the new program was designed. We have partnered with the following well-respected reprographics firms to create this program:

Digitec
RJ Young Co.
Canon Solutions America
Konica-Minolta

These suppliers already have experience in serving the Vanderbilt community. They were chosen by competitive bidding and after extensive consultation, and are committed to the success of our program.

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12. Do I get the best price through the plan?

In virtually all cases, yes. It is always possible that some other supplier could quote a lower price, but there will usually be some drawback in the form of added per-copy or supply charges, the installation of used equipment, or penalties for early termination of the agreement. Our supplier contracts have been structured to eliminate most of these issues.

In addition, our billing is handled in-house by the SmartPrinting staff, and provides you with a simple, constant, clear, and all-inclusive monthly charge for your machine. If you have questions or concerns, you will deal with local Vanderbilt staff who are familiar with the University's procedures in general and your installation in particular. You and your staff will save time because there is never a need to take bids, write purchase orders, track invoices, or call 800 numbers.

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13. Does my department have responsibilities under the program if we decide to place a Smart Printing machine?

Yes. The program is a cooperative effort. The Smart Printing staff and the suppliers have large roles to play, but end users are important too. The agreement you will sign before installation spells these out as follows:

  • Departments agree to make a good faith effort to honor the three-year agreement on each machine.  (Sometimes exceptions can be made - see question 7.)

Your supplier may also request that you complete a periodic survey or give other feedback specific to their organization.  We encourage departments to cooperate with such requests, to help the suppliers improve their performance.

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14. Can I benefit from other departments' experience in selecting my supplier and machine?

Yes, we require our users to devote a few minutes per month to completing a feedback and performance survey. Visit the secure SmartPrint website to see this data.

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15. Why do I have to enter my password to access parts of this site?

Proprietary information owned by both Vanderbilt and the equipment suppliers must be made available here in order to provide full functionality to our users.  Password protection allows this to be done securely.

As with all secure Vanderbilt sites, it is expected that users will not allow any unauthorized persons, including supplier representatives, to see protected parts of this site.

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16. Is there training available as part of the plan?

Yes, this is another key goal. Newer, more capable equipment does tend to be more complex, and good training is necessary to realize its full value.

Our suppliers are committed to providing you and your staff all training necessary, not only at installation, but throughout the life of the machine.

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17. Can I obtain a machine for a short-term or one-time program or event?

In case of a very short-term need, we may be able to provide a loaner machine free of charge.

Some of our suppliers will also accommodate users with a short-term contract upon request.

Contact us if you have a short-term need and we'll see what we can arrange.

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18. What if my machine just won't work?

We do have a 'lemon law' in our agreements.  After the supplier is allowed a reasonable (but fairly short) period to correct a recurring problem, the machine must be replaced.

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19. Can I charge my machine to multiple center numbers?

Yes, up to three, in any percentage mix you choose.  

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20. Do other institutions have this kind of program?

Yes.  Institution-wide copier/fax management programs are common.  (Ours has existed in some form for over twenty years.)  These are widely recognized as an effective tool for minimizing costs and maximizing service for a large fleet of machines.

Here are some that exist in the higher education field:

University of Nevada at Las Vegas
Duke University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

We do think (modestly) that our revamped Smart Printing program is now one of the most advanced in the country.  We hope you'll agree.

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21. Why can I only order one or two of each supply item on the supply page?

This is because supplies are included in our monthly charge. Our suppliers want supplies to go out roughly at the same rate that their payments come in, so this is designed to encourage a steady, moderate ordering pattern. However, the limit is only per transaction - in case of real necessity, you can make more than one transaction.

In short, we want everyone to have sufficient supplies, but not have so much inventory on campus that it might begin to distort our cost structure.

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22. Why is there a per-copy charge for color? Isn't the point of the program to have flat, predictable charges? 

Yes, we prefer flat charging where possible. However, color machines and supplies, although much cheaper than they used to be, are still more costly than their plain-black equivalents. Our suppliers require a per-copy charge to protect themselves against possible excessive costs if usage were not tracked by copy.

We understand this requirement in the current financial and technological state of the industry. However, we expect that the cost of color will continue to drop, and that at some point in the future it can be eliminated.  

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23. What exactly is a key operator? Can he or she unlock my desk if I forget my keys?

Briefly, the key operator is the principal contact person that we have for the machine. He or she will receive training upon installation and thereafter as needed to get the most out of the equipment.

This person may also train others in its operation, may order supplies and service, and may enter meter readings on our web page, although all these duties may be delegated to other departmental personnel if needed.

However, the key operator will always receive an e-mail notification when any action is taken through our web page regarding his or her machine.

Just FYI, years ago, the key operator was entrusted with an actual key or other physical device to control access to the machine. Nowadays network security and access codes have rendered this obsolete.

And, no, our Smart Printing training doesn't currently include locksmithing—maybe in version 2.0.

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24. Why is there a three-year term on program machines?

We think this is about the right length of time, based on experience. It's too expensive to swap more often, but going longer risks an increase in service calls and a decrease in performance.

Regular replacement also ensures that Vanderbilt's fleet remains technologically up-to-date.

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25. What if I only need a very small fax?

In this case, the program might or might not be for you. If you have very low volume, or only occasional faxing needs, you may wish to consider purchasing a small fax machine. These are readily available from any office supplier, including Guy Brown, our authorized supplier. (The Guy Brown catalog can be accessed through the Vanderbilt e-procurement system.)

Keep in mind, though, that the purchase price of such a machine is not the total cost of ownership. You will need to plan to pay separately for service and supplies as those needs arise. Over a period of time, such costs can add up to a point where leasing a small machine from our program may be competitive.

If you have doubts as to your best course, feel free to contact our program suppliers to help you with an analysis. If your requirements can't economically be met by their product lines, they will tell you so and you can be sure you explored all alternatives before making your decision.

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26. What is the difference between a serial number and a machine ID number?

From the user's point of view, not very much. It simply depends on the supplier you have and how their information management system is structured for tracking their equipment.

The two numbers function the same when using our website, and the number you need to use will be clearly marked on your machine.

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27. Can I purchase a Smart Printing machine outright?

The answer is, yes and no.

We recognize that in some rare cases, such as tightly restricted grants, equipment may have to be purchased and counted as an asset. The downside of this practice is that such an asset will depreciate very rapidly. (New copiers are as bad as new cars in that respect.) For this reason, we don't recommend outright purchase if it can possibly be avoided.

If you feel you have a need to make a purchase under our contract, please contact the Procurement Department at 322-2911 for further information.

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28. What is a multifunction device? What are the benefits of one?

Briefly, an MFD is a copier-like device that can perform at least one function besides copying - image scanning and/or network printing are the most common, but fax capability is also available.

In fact, it's harder than it used to be to tell a copier from an MFD. All MFD's can copy, and virtually all new copiers can be equipped with at least some additional functions--some machines can fit into both categories. For the purposes of our program, an MFD generally comes as a complete package, while a copier comes as a base unit to which additional functionality may be added, if needed, according to your needs.

The benefit of an MFD is that it can potentially save space and power compared to using several machines, and also offer added convenience.

The disadvantage is that a breakdown may disable all functions at once - in the language of systems design, there's a possible "single point of failure."

As regards cost, an MFD will usually be more costly than an equivalent copier alone, but if you add in the price of separate printer, fax, and scanner units, the MFD may compare favorably.

There is no clear one-size-fits-all answer on which is best. Our suppliers will assist you in determining what type of device makes sense for your operation.

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29. How fast is service response?

Our goal is four working hours. This may not always be attainable, but at least we expect our suppliers to maintain a four-hour average. (This would mean that one response might be one hour, but the next seven hours, etc.)

Note also, that our users will be rating the suppliers on service, among other issues, on a regular basis. If one of them is lagging, we will be able to tell pretty quickly.

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30. Can I recycle my Smart Printing toner cartridges?

There are two possibilities for this. One is to contact your supplier--they all have recycling programs.

The other is to contact Guy Brown, Vanderbilt's authorized office supply vendor. We understand they are able to recycle all models of cartridges through their program:  info@guybrown.com.

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31. Why is IKON no longer part of the program?

Briefly, there were issues of concern to us in that relationship that could not be worked out.  For a more extensive FAQ on this subject on our secure page, click here.

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32. Can all of the Smart Printing vendors support scanning to Star Panel?

Yes, tests have been made with each vendor to assure that this works properly. If you have questions about a particular vendor's products, the sales rep for that vendor can help you.

If you have general questions, contact us at the Smart Printing office, and we will direct you further.

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33. Does Smart Printing have policies in place to address data security on copiers?

Yes. This issue was addressed in our first contracts in 2006, and obligated our vendors to remove all Vanderbilt data and identification from removed machines. This requirement remains in force for all Smart Printing units.

In 2009 we updated our contract language to address further issues, specifically requiring the vendors to make available security for all networked machines and allow protection of data stored on built-in hard disks.

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34. Why did I get a call from someone promising me a deal on copier toner when I get my toner through the SmartPrinting program?

You most probably heard from one of the infamous "toner phoners" who constitute virtually an entire industry in themselves. These con artists constantly call businesses, hoping to connect with an inexperienced or incautious employee who will give verbal authorization for a shipment of (almost always) inferior and (always) overpriced toner. These calls are recorded and may be played back later in an attempt to collect on the exorbitant invoice which follows.

Your best bet is simply to politely refuse to speak to any caller you do not know about copier toner or other office supplies. It is important to convey this to the staff who man your phones, particularly while they are new or if you have temporaries performing this task. Never give out purchase orders, serial numbers, model names, or anything else which could be used to construct a bogus invoice.

If you have one of our copiers or faxes and you receive any doubtful call about your machine or its supplies, feel free to transfer the caller to the Copy Center at 3-8086. We know from experience that fraudulent callers will hastily hang up in the process!

NOTE: much material exists on the Net regarding this issue. Search for "toner phoner" on any search engine if you want to know more. Below is a link that sums things up pretty well:

An article from Snopes.com

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 35. Why do Smart Printing charges have to go into account 81245?

VU Finance made a policy change in May of 2013 directing that these charges be posted only to this account. Below is the statement they gave us:

"Based on discussions with our external auditors, PwC, during the 2012 year-end audit, a procedural change is necessary regarding the debit (expense) account charged for the Smart Print program to internal Vanderbilt ‘customers’.

Historically, approximately 25 different accounts have been debited to reflect the allocation of this lease expense. Lease expense is reported in the footnotes to the external financial report. Activity between the Copy Center and internal VU customers constitutes an internal allocation of costs (not true rental/lease expense) and should be eliminated on a consolidated level for external reporting purposes.

Therefore, effective immediately, the debit account will be changed to 81245, Copy Center Charges."

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