What to consider when mass issuance is in the cards
Re-carding a campus in-person: ‘Print them while they wait’
If cards are produced while the students wait, there is no need to find it among thousands of others in a filing box. This can be a benefit of in-person issuance. In-person or instant issuance is the same process used in the card office throughout the year, except that the mass re-carding aspect escalates volumes significantly.
If this option is selected, the subsequent decision process is similar to that of pre-issuance. Will the work be outsourced to a third-party or handled by campus personnel? A card system vendor or ID services company can be contracted to plan and coordinate a re-carding, ship and set up equipment to expedite the process and provide some of all of the necessary labor needed.
Alternately, the card office may opt to handle the process alone. In this case, renting equipment can still be an option to increase throughput, provide backups in case of downtime, and reduce wear and tear on the institution’s printers. The catch, however, is that rental costs can add up quickly.
“Renting equipment happens, but not as much as opting to outsource,” says Degan. “Renting is worth the cost if you only need a printer for a week or two, but once you get to the one-month mark you’re probably only a few hundred dollars shy of the overall cost of the machine,” explains Degan.
It’s a better approach to purchase a printer than rent one because a campus can always use another printer for other issuance projects, or as a backup in a pinch, says Degan. “If a printer ever dies or goes down, you can just pull that purchased printer off your shelf; you’re putting that investment to good use rather than just leasing it and having to send it back.”
As for which approach is best, it really depends on the university. “Is the department handling the issuance overbooked or overrun on a daily basis? If they are, then they may not be ready to handle a full re-carding project,” says Degan. “That’s when it might be more attractive to outsource the work even if the price tag seems bigger. But what is often overlooked is the cost of labor for the university.”
Proper staffing is critical when it comes to a re-carding project, says Blackboard’s Gretz. “Knowledgeable and available personnel and an adequate number of printers to maximize throughput are the two biggest factors in ensuring success of a re-carding,” he says.
In an in-person reissuance scenario, Gretz agrees that hardware maintenance is paramount. “Prior to a re-carding, make sure all equipment has been serviced to eliminate down time,” he says. “Also make sure equipment is adequately monitored to deal with jams, ribbon replacement and re-stocking empty hoppers, all of which can cause lengthy delays if not caught right away.”
“Anything that can reduce lines and wait times will be well-received,” adds Gretz.
You have to have the flexibility and capability to clean printers, be willing to get your hands dirty working on them, as well as have printers that can fill in if one goes down at a moment’s notice, says Degan. “It’s these kinds of considerations that makes ‘re-carding’ a scary word for universities.