Large Scale Document Production

This project is a collaboration between XRCE, Xerox Ltd UK and Her Majesty's Stationary Office (HMSO). HMSO is a large-scale printer distributed throughout the UK and uses Xerox state-of-the-art electronic print technology, including sixteen Xerox DocuTechs which it is currently networking. This makes the HMSO the largest distributed printer in the UK and is Xerox Ltd UK's largest customer. Its printing operations extend across the range of printing from simple photo-copying to large volume high quality printing. This background has furnished the project with four objectives: i) to understand the work practices of large scale document production, ii) to understand the relationship between organisational factors and the use of document technology, iii) to understand the issues involved in networking distributed worksites, iv) to understand the use of current existing electronic document technologies in HMSO.

A Case Study

HMSO is undergoing radical changes at an organisational level and a technological level. At the organisational level it is experiencing change due to market testing and its new freedom to explore new markets through Facilities Managed contracts. At the technological level it is developing state of the art printing capabilities through a nation-wide networked DocuTech and DTP system. HMSO is using the opportunities provided by this system to address its own customers' productivity and quality concerns and is maximising its opportunities to compete effectively in new and existing markets. HMSO is thus a very technologically aware organisation, using technology to support its internal changes, address productivity and to win new customers.

This project is building detailed knowledge of HMSO as an organisation and the way in which organisational and technological change interplay with one another. It examines the changing work practices of large-scale document production. It provides a very rich case study for developing general descriptions of print production practices and processes. These findings can be used not only to develop future print technology that supports the needs of such users but also to develop ways of working which will enable them to be more productive.

Research Topics

The project is providing material through which a number of topics are, being explored. In the medium term these include:

  1. an examination of the network as a social as well as a technical system and the way in which these systems interact with each other.
  2. an investigation into an effective information management system.
  3. the description of work practices of print technology use for use in the development of design recommendations.

In the longer term the following themes will be addressed:

  1. how to manage the boundaries of and transitions between electronic and paper forms of documents by expanding upon interface difficulties and possibilities for enhancing electronic and paper interfaces.
  2. the process by which, both individually and in groups, documents are created, constructed, edited and reproduced--this will encompass tools and other support technologies both currently and potentially applicable.
  3. the work practices of document production, and the possibilities for further automation.
  4. the consequences of rapid organisational change for technology requirements.
  5. understanding the requirements for distributed print technologies.


  • Graham Button
  • John Bowers
  • Wes Sharrock


  • HMSO
  • Xerox Ltd UK