Arena understands education, and it's not just been about the contract, it's about the good relationship we have with them.
Head of IT and Learning Resources
Ashton Sixth Form College has an excellent reputation for academic success, with expertise in post-16 teaching and an outstanding record of student support. Providing the highest quality academic and vocational education in the area for 34 years, the College has seen over 50,000 young people progress into both academic and vocational areas.
Arena approached the College and enquired about the status of their copy and print fleet. The Vice Principal of Finance and Resources in particular felt that having a local company to bid for the tender was important to the College and so they considered Arena for the contract.
However, as Sally Shaw, the College's Head of IT and Learning Resources relates, the contract was not simply down to locality or price: "Price was obviously a factor because we wanted to save a significant amount of money, but the quality of the provider and our relationship with them was important as well. Arena brought additional benefits to us, such as helping us to reduce our carbon footprint through the Toshiba carbon offset scheme."
Not just a print and software provider, Arena stands by strong corporate social responsibility values and provides apprenticeship schemes at our training academy. As part of the tender Arena offered interview skills and workshops on site, which resulted in employing one of Ashton's previous students, Samuel Davies, as an apprentice field service technician. As the College recognises that not every student wants to go to university, this is an aspect Sally greatly appreciated: "That was a big selling point for Arena. Everyone talks about corporate social responsibility but not everyone goes into the detail of it. Having a student of ours become an apprentice with Arena has never happened before with any of our other suppliers."
Providing the right solutions
In terms of the contract itself, Sally tells us that the process was smooth and efficient, with no hidden surprises or concerns: "Arena were the only provider to offer an audit in advance and a lot of time was spent on site prior to gaining the contract, which was a good sign. The paperwork was also very thorough, nothing was missed out."
Arena's print audit and implementation of the equipment has meant the College has gained significant savings and benefits. Arena removed printers from staff offices and introduced central, networked devices in the College, reducing the fleet of devices from 92 to around 24. This has not only saved the College a five-figure annual saving, but has introduced staff and students alike to new ways of working. In particular, a 'swipe' process, where print jobs are held in a central system until the user releases the job at any networked printer, has meant students no longer need to go to the library just to print.
"Printing for students has improved significantly and they love the new machines," Sally tells us. "They love that they can just swipe and release prints now, and it's helped hugely with how they purchase print credits."
Sally also states how having one print provider and unified devices means storage space for consumables such as toner is reduced and print costs are controlled, while keeping information secure and waste paper to a minimum.
"Now everything's automated, it's great. The staff can see that the new devices are so much better, and it's reduced the burden on what the IT team have to do – everyone is really happy with it."
Arena's account manager for Ashton Sixth Form College consistently remains in contact with Sally and keeps communication open, as Sally says: "He was very good at getting back to me and keeping in touch, so I felt like moving forward we'd have that good contact all the time. His passion and enthusiasm for the contract made me feel like we were important to Arena and we would have a good relationship."
Offering additional help and support with important aspects such as work experience and skills-based learning has been a key area for Sally: "The fact that Arena came to us showed they go the extra mile to fulfil our needs, which was really nice."
Sally ends with a positive view on many of Arena's departments, such as the helpdesk team and the customer relationship managers:
"Arena understands education, and it's not just been about the contract, it's about the good relationship we have with them."