Efficiency is a word that has been used quite a lot over the past few blogs. But what exactly does it really mean when we talk about increasing efficiency when buying print and how can you achieve that in real terms?
You will start to see real success once you examine the entire chain from the very beginning, instead of being reactive and relying on short term measures that only serve to elongate, rather than shorten and improve the process.
As boring as it may sound, planning is the best method of examining your current methods and identifying where positive changes can be established. Every other key purchasing decision that benefits your business is not made on a whim but by assessing the pros and cons. And purchasing print is no different in that regard. An integral part of the planning stage is ensuring that communication is clear and understood by all.
This means providing a brief that outlines your objectives behind the product you need printed. Not only in terms of the technical specifications but what the product is going to be used for. While print management companies are not trained marketing experts, we have assisted enough marketing campaigns to understand what can produce the best results to match your expectations.
The technical specifications can at times be tricky because there are occasions where one term can be interpreted as another thing entirely when speaking with various printers. This reinforces the importance of establishing and maintaining relationships with a supplier that not only understands your requirements, but just as importantly, retains a clear line of communication.
Ambiguity has proved to be a killer of many a print run, where areas of uncertainty about what was required were resolved before going to press, resulting in a product that the customer did not want, thus wasting valuable time and money.
The specification also helps a print management company to quickly evaluate which supplier can produce the best turnaround in terms of quality, price and service. With so many options available you cannot be expected to be aware of them all, especially with new technology being updated so frequently.
Placing your printed product on the right press is a crucial part of the supply chain, and because most companies are unaware of how to differentiate between one printer and another, a simple change here can have an immediately positive effect.
You would imagine there is always a natural synergy between graphic designers and the print industry, given how often they work together. Yet, sometimes that is not the case and more often than not, it is not down to the designers themselves.
They are creative types who primarily focus on the style and look of the finished product, sometimes without thought given towards the practicality of the idea. This is another missing link in the chain that can be resolved by working with a print management company willing to engage and work closely with a company’s design team.
If a designer can become informed on how to set-up the artwork based on the paper, dimensions, image resolution and the press being used to print the job, then it not only improves the quality of the finished product but subsequent projects too.
Designers work hard to create something original and engaging that will benefit your company, so it is important you provide them with enough quality information to enable them to work to the best of their ability.
Out of Sight Out of Mind
Distribution and storage are also areas that are too often overlooked as they are perceived as simply packaging the product, delivering and receiving in the goods. What has to be remembered is that once from the moment the printed product leaves the press, the quality is ever so slowly decreasing with exposure to the air.
This is why distribution centres store print at specific temperatures to help maintain the quality when it will take some time to distribute the full quota. Because there are additional costs involved with outsourcing the storage and distribution of your print, many companies will choose to keep it in-house, despite being unaware of how best to preserve their print material.
Just having the space in the building simply isn’t enough if the print is stored incorrectly, leading to expensive wastage. The true reward comes from paying a little more money, to protect valuable marketing materials that will retain their quality for far longer.
Without the hassle of having to arrange you own couriers for deliveries, a distribution specialist can work to your set schedule and ensure the delivery of your product, while you concentrate on other important matters in-house.
If budgets are too tight to outsource the storage and distribution of your print, then a print management company can also help you understand how to maximise the shelf life of each product. You can become more effective in how much is ordered to avoid overstocking and unwarranted waste.
From there it becomes easier to analyse ongoing requirements and the expected lifecycle of each item. You will notice that less time and money is spent agonising over what and how to destroy because the total amount has been reduced significantly.
Very few companies employ a dedicated print buyer, whose sole responsibility is to oversee the process, so what tends to happen is the responsibility for purchasing is incorporated into someone else’s job role. This is understandable because most companies cannot justify the associated costs of one employee focusing solely on print. However, the natural effect of this means that the employee tasked with purchasing the print is overstretched and their focus on maximising the print purchasing chain is diluted.
This applies not only to the person dealing with the suppliers, but the individuals or teams dealing with storage, wasting, distribution, accounting, marketing and design. Quite often new employees inherit these duties from the previous incumbent, with no thought given towards whether or not it plays to all of their strengths.
Working closely with a print management company helps to identify the limitations and strengths of each person involved in the process and can suggest subtle changes in responsibility to help improve efficiency. This doesn’t mean we come into the business looking to turn the organisation upside down. But if we can save on time, energy and money, it makes sense to take the time to work together.
The job is not complete once the print run has finished. Like any business always looking to improve and evolve, a review process has to sit front and centre. Just because a project has been finalised, does not mean all of its objectives have been met.
The key to success is not about the end result but the journey taken to get there. Once you can identify a clear through line that can be implemented each and every time, then naturally, improved results will follow. This is an ongoing process and works best when partnered with an objective point of view supplied by a print management team.
As always, this is just a basic guideline towards improving the efficiency of your print purchasing. At Evolution Print Management, we are always keen to hear your feedback and suggestions.
If you have any queries related to this blog and want to find out how we can help your print work more effectively for you, fill in your details below and we’ll come straight back to you.