Opening the Door to a Print Audit

Print Management audit. Three small words that will have a huge impact on the success of your print purchasing. If you are considering taking the decision to work with a print management team, then whether you are a small or large business, the Print Management Audit is a vital cog in the process that will help you achieve a print buying process that is more streamlined, organised and cost efficient.

Following on from our last blog, Why Should Companies Outsource Their Print Management, this week we are going into more detail about the auditing process and explain just how beneficial this will be to your business in practical terms.

Audit Trust Comes First

Aside from the additional time and effort you will be required put into a print audit procedure, trust is perhaps the most valuable attribute of all. Of course, in the early stages of any new supplier relationship this is true, but in order to truly make a success of a partnership with a print management team, you will be required to go a little further. While not exactly handing over the keys to the business, you are willing to share sensitive and business critical data, so establishing how this will be shared securely is the first step that should be discussed and agreed upon.

Buying Systems

The key to improving your print supply chain is understanding how each link interacts and effects the other. This begins with examining the procurement process. Here you will review the current print supply purchasing methods, identifying any reoccurring issues and the impact on the business. Problems that are not resolved at this stage can often produce an unseen knock on effect, creating a chain reaction that continues to be felt further down the line.

Highlighting and forming clear solutions at this early point will make the transition path towards print management far easier. You will be looking to analyse:

  • Communication – How quotes/purchases are detailed, confirmed, recorded and stored.
  • Logistics – How dates are tracked via suppliers, communication with couriers and accountability/compensation for damaged deliveries.
  • Inbound – How print materials are received, handled and stored by staff members once on the company premises.
  • Payments – When/how purchase orders and invoices are raised, tracked, paid and recorded.

Buying Method

Once you have a clear view of how and why the current buying process is in operation, the next step is to assess the technical aspects of the printing process itself. Even if you are currently using just one of either litho or digital methods, the likelihood is that there are several pieces of collateral being produced. Each one will have their own specifications that need to be understood fully in order to maximise the quality of the print. There is no one-size fits all solution that runs across every thickness or particular paper stock, size and print finish.

The wide variance of technical printing options available may at first appear quite confusing, but with guidance from the right print management team and a few simple tweaks, you will see a significant upturn in the quality:

  • Brand guidelines – Analysis of the brand guideline document to review consistency against actual printed materials. If one does not exist, creating the foundation to develop one.
  • Finishing – Checking that uniformity of print finishes extends across every format.
  • Optimisation – Reviewing the stock used for each printed item, from small to large format.
  • Response times – Assessing the turnaround time from point of order, through to delivery.
  • Brand impact – How technical issues have affected the branding, the wider issues created because of this.

Efficiency

Print related costs are constantly fluctuating and it is important you have an insight into the market to guarantee you continue to receive the best value. What may have given you a price edge six months ago, may no longer be the case. New technology, ink, paper and logistical costs are all ‘hidden’ factors that will impact the price at the point of purchase. Working with a print management partner that is constantly engaged in this area and able to identify and negotiate the best market prices on your behalf offers you an important advantage:

  • Volume – Becoming aware of how much and often you are purchasing, how sometimes buying less or initially more can save you money in the long run.
  • Pricing – What pricing comparisons are implemented per quote and if over/under ordering has created further stress on the purchasing budget.
  • Storage & Wastage – How and where printed material is stored, maintained, logged and replenished. Evaluating historical disposal patterns and cost to the business. How sustainable and environmentally friendly current methods have proven to be.
  • Reprints – Either created by supplier, design or marketing issues, their financial impact and how quickly these have been flagged, investigated and resolved satisfactorily.
  • Payments – When/how purchase orders and invoices are raised, tracked, paid and recorded.

The Human Touch

The final part to consider are the staff themselves, the valuable members of the team who are so crucial in making sure your current systems can operate and ensure improvements are implemented. As the print industry is still very much a manually driven process, a print management team understands that human element better than anyone else. From the moment a product is conceived, designed, produced, sold and marketed, influences are felt from a multitude of people, so gaining their feedback will only offer further improvements:

  • Buying channels – The people/departments currently purchasing and how they interact and correspond with each other.
  • Knowledge & Experience – This will provide an invaluable, real-time insight into how the full buying process is working. What this means to the people performing the role because of the ease/difficulties.
  • Skill sets – Utilising the right personnel for the right job. Correlating their strengths and weaknesses against the roles they are asked to undertake to maximise productivity.
  • Relationships – Motivations behind why new and repeated work are placed with particular suppliers. Maintaining strong relationships with suppliers and clear communication from both parties.

There can be no half measures when it comes to performing a print audit. Anything less will only produce underwhelming results. The audit list may seem exhaustive but implemented correctly, the improvements will be noticeable tangible. Working with a print management team provides an unbiased review of just how successfully you have been purchasing the marketing materials that are so vital to the health of your business. Even if you feel that your current buying system is fully optimised, there is always room for refinement.

At Evolution Print Management we are able to put together a detailed and bespoke print audit plan to suit your business needs. Get in touch with us today by filling in the form below to discuss how we can help enhance your print audit and print management requirements.

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