As a purchasing agent in the University’s Purchasing Department, Karla Salmonsen sees the results every day of the work done by the Fast Forward Syracuse Office Supplies Initiative Team. Salmonsen, who was a team member, handles any concerns with the University’s new online office supplies vendor, W.B. Mason, and continues to ensure competitive pricing. The savings are readily apparent and all those savings are adding up University wide.

“You may think office supplies are a small piece, but there’s always something you need and a savings to be found,” Salmonsen says.


In the first quarter reporting, when the new vendor was put in place, from July 1-Sept. 30, 2015, the University saw a 30 percent cost savings in office supplies over the same period in 2014. There are 576 contracted items that are at the lowest price; other items outside the list are still available—with at least a discounted price of 47-62 percent off list price. Credit card spending for office supplies, which under the new policy can only be used to purchase office supplies while out of town, was reduced by 80 percent in the same quarter. And W.B. Mason’s Switch and Save program, which was incorporated in November and offers users the option of selecting similar items but at even a lower cost, has 323 items in its system.

Finding efficiencies

Supplies can be ordered on the University’s W.B. Mason site, accessed through MySlice, now including paper purchases, which is also an additional savings. Salmonsen assists University community members with ordering if they are unable to find a particular item not listed on the site.

For the convenience of the University community, there is no minimum order charge and next-day/desktop delivery is available. Salmonsen is proud of the work that’s been done to realize efficiencies.

“I like to make sure we’re spending dollars appropriately and wisely with University money. It’s my passion,” says Salmonsen, who has been at the University for 34 years. “It was very important to me to be a part of the Fast Forward initiative and make sure we’re moving forward.”

Office supplies is not the only area seeing results as part of Fast Forward Syracuse’s Operational Excellence Program.

Telecommunications team The Telecommunications Initiative Team listened to the University community and looked at finding cost savings in the phones and cellular devices.

“What we found is that we were spending a lot of extra money that we didn’t need to spend on cell phones, landlines and other ways that we communicate,” says team member Al Weinberger, senior director of Technical Systems and Services for the Division of Advancement and External Affairs.

The team wanted to make things more efficient and cost-effective and decided to consolidate to a single vendor. They looked at multiple vendors, such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, and examined how phones are allocated and how cell devices are used in general.

In the new Telecommunications and Mobile Device policy launched July 1, AT&T was named the preferred cellular provider and a new system was put in place for departments to evaluate whether various positions needed a cellular device.

“We found AT&T was very cost competitive. In addition, for our staff members who travel overseas, AT&T has the best coverage and the most flexibility,” Weinberger says.

After moving more than 365 devices to the new carrier, the University realized $30,000 in rebates from AT&T.

There has been a reduction in the monthly bills for service and the number of devices paid for by the University, but further analysis will be done over several months to compile the data, Weinberger says.

There has also been an elimination of some landlines that has also added to the savings.

Leveraging buying power

Members of the Printers and Copiers Initiative Team also wanted to focus on getting an overall picture of what the needs are for imaging devices.

“The purchasing of imaging devices and the models that we bought were very disparate across campus,” says Stan Ziemba, director of information technology at the Maxwell School and a team manager with the initiative.

“People were purchasing a variety of device models using different vendors and payment methods. In order to leverage the buying power of the University, we needed to identify our printing needs and limit the number of vendors and device models to fulfil those needs,” Ziemba says.

Part of the work has been a consultation by Xerox representatives who are working their way through units across campus to inventory—at no cost—devices not connected through the network. They then provide a blueprint of all devices and models.

Through the process, Ziemba was able to provide solutions in Maxwell which are more cost-effective, while continuing to meet the printing needs of the department.

Users who need to print privately to a shared device can also opt to add a code to prevent the document from printing until it is entered at the machine. This further eliminates the need for smaller printers in offices, which cost much more to own and operate. He also applied the new security guidelines included in the policy to secure the imaging devices from unauthorized or malicious access.

At Maxwell, he has been able to eliminate 16 printers so far, with more to come.

Survey of IT managers

Ziemba surveyed other IT managers across campus, who under the new policy must review the purchase of all new printers and copiers, and they anticipate reducing approximately 260 printers in the near future. Xerox is also helping to compile data on the number of printed pages on all campus networked and non-networked imaging devices.

“By knowing what we print, we can investigate whether a managed print service [MPS] makes sense for the University,” Ziemba says. An MPS provides a complete maintenance and toner program for all imaging devices, regardless of model, for a fixed cost per printed page. Many of the universities that the team interviewed as part of the process use a copier company, such as Xerox, to provide an MPS to reduce the cost of ownership and simplify maintenance procedures.

Overall, the team is still compiling data and waiting for a longer time period to be able to fully analyze the cost savings. For Ziemba, the work has been gratifying.

“I’m glad to be part of the solution to find opportunities to make the University run more efficiently,” Ziemba says.


–By Kathleen Haley