ZGF Architects

Business: Architecture

Founded: 1955

Headquarters: Portland, OR

Employees: 500

Solution: Argos, Argos forCanon MEAP

Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP (ZGF Architects) is one of the nation’s largest and most respected architecture and design firms. We sat down with Jan Lochridge, Database Administrator and the person closest to the firm’s Argos installation, to find out why Argos works so well for ZGF Architects.

Tell us a bit about you and your business.

We’re a design firm focused on architecture, interior design, urban design, and planning. We have offices in Portland, Oregon; Seattle; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; and New York. The firm was founded over 50 years ago we have 500 employees.


In our print environment we use HP Designjet for large format color, Océ for large format monochrome, HP convenience laser printers, and a mix of Canon, Xerox and Konica Minolta MFPs.


How were you managing print expenses in the past?

Very early on we asked people to record by hand, which didn’t work very well. With the first large format plotters, we used the machines’ built-in logging that produced text files. I would spend a great deal of time pulling and aggregating data from devices. Then we moved to an application called Equitrac, which proved prohibitively expensive. We only used it for copy tracking; we never did print tracking with it. We had a custom batch file process we used for tracking CAD printing. It was a messy patchwork affair. We reached a tipping point where we were paying more to track it than we were getting back.


What led you to choose Argos for the job?

One of my colleagues in another office was given the task of researching print tracking applications — one that could specifically deal with a number of different printers. I’m not sure how he found Sepialine but as soon as we started testing it, we thought it was a really good product. The implementation costs were pretty reasonable.


How was the experience switching to Argos?

We initially started with one office — Portland — and we were running it on one server. Then we began pushing it out to the other offices. Overall it was a fairly smooth rollout. We benefited from implementing the Argos Web Service.


Users liked it much better than having to write something down. And because we weren’t using Equitrac print tracking, users weren’t accustomed to popups, so the Argos Billing Dialog was a new concept. Once our employees got used to billing their print jobs, things went well.


How many of your employees do you track with Argos?

Everybody except overhead staff. There are a lot of printers we track silently and don’t bill back. One thing that’s been really nice is the ability to group devices so we can easily organize and silently track printers.


How is Argos different from your previous solution?

It’s so much better in a lot of ways. The administration tools are much better. There’s a whole lot of control over how and when things get billed. We can set up user groups so that their plots get automatically billed to a specific job and we can see who’s not billing their plots. We like being able to deploy client software remotely.


All the print and copy data are all pulled together. It’s in a SQL database where I can manipulate it like crazy, which is important because I do my own Deltek accounting integration, plus we pull project lists from Deltek into Argos. I filter out all the data we’re not going to bill back. We’re filtering project lists in the Argos Web Service so that users only see the jobs in their office.


It all works together great, there’s a lot of flexibility and it’s well designed. You guys have proven over the years that you’re accessible to customers and responsive. You’re growing but you’ve always paid attention and listened to suggestions.


What do you like most about Argos?

I’ve found it to be a really flexible interface. And it works well across all our offices with lots of users. So I’d have to say flexibility and scalability. The embedded copy tracking capabilities of Argos is something I’m looking forward to using as we make the move to Canon MFPs.


How have the employees out on the floor received Argos?

Nobody really likes being tracked; so, the less obtrusive, the better. We’ve been able to tailor the billing popup so they only see what we want them to see and they only have to enter a project number. They can see both name and number and sort it. They have two canned comments for cases where they cancel a print job, and that’s it. We’ve made it as simple and streamlined as possible. Once people get used to it, it’s fine.


Any words of advice for other companies?

It sounds like a commercial but I would definitely recommend Argos. I can’t speak for other tracking systems, but with Equitrac there were a lot of other maintenance and hardware costs that you didn’t know going in. So, definitely, do the research.




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