The Paper (Reduction) Chase


Large institutions face the challenge of managing overwhelming volumes of documentation, be it correspondence, research documents, administrative records or otherwise. Nowhere is this challenge more daunting than for universities and other institutions of higher learning. Technology, which is in part the cause for the volume of documents now being generated, is also being used to master the challenge. We describe a recent example of this experience.

The University of British Columbia has entered into a business partnership with Xerox Global Services to develop an enterprise print services and document management strategy that will result in cost reductions and improvements to UBC’s document production, printing and delivery systems. Over the six year term of this initiative, UBC expects to reduce its document production costs by at least $8 million and to make significant progress on its environmental sustainability initiatives. According to UBC, it will cut its paper waste volume by an estimated 26%, or roughly 39 million pieces of paper, over the term. That translates into a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 727,000 pounds and a savings in energy consumption by 105 power distribution units.

The first phase of the project will focus on managing UBC’s enterprise print services and developing the technical infrastructure needed to implement an electronic document management system. The objective is to have a stable and cost-effective printing and distribution solution that benefits campus administration, faculties and students. The second phase of the project involves creating and implementing a document management strategy that enables UBC to digitize, organize, store and retrieve the multitude of paper and electronic documents located in hundreds of buildings among its separate campuses. UBC’s move towards electronic document management reflects a growing trend in both businesses and post-secondary institutions across North America to implement solutions that reduce costs while at the same time improve document storage and retrieval capabilities. The overall project also helps UBC achieve other objectives, such as reducing its environmental footprint and identifying opportunities for revenue generation and research initiatives.

Brock Smith, a partner in Clark Wilson’s Technology & Intellectual Property Group, assisted UBC on this transaction. He worked closely with Karen Szeto in the Office of the University Counsel as well as with members of UBC’s Treasury Department. Together, they developed a flexible form of services agreement that allows UBC to expand its service requirements from Xerox over the six year term. One of the significant challenges the parties faced was the time period in which to complete the deal. In response, they developed an open communication strategy and committed to an aggressive negotiation timeline to resolve deal issues and conclude the agreement. As a result, a transaction that might be expected to take at least eight months to conclude was done in just under three.