In recent weeks we’ve given an overview on why companies should outsource their print management and drilled down further into the process of print auditing.
Now it make sense to explain just what a print manager can and should be achieving for you, so you have tangible sense of how it can add real value to your business.
Once all the i’s have been dotted and the t’s crossed, a thorough report should be produced by the print management team to present their findings. This will be far more than simply pointing out the good and the bad – the idea of the audit was to identify where minor changes can be made to streamline processes, increase efficiency and ultimately reduce outgoing costs.
Of course, these can only be suggestions at this early stage, and implemented with the agreeance of the business owner. So it is vitally important that there are no grey areas left unresolved, and no questions that haven’t been addressed. The ideal situation will be, that through the trust developed over the course of the auditing and fact-finding stage, the print management team will use their expertise to lay out a clear and precise plan. This will highlight the suggested next steps and their impact on the business in terms that the decision makers can easily understand.
Once the report has been digested, a plan of action agreed upon and specific account managers assigned to attend to the business’ needs, then it is a case of working in tandem with the respective departments and teams on a micro level. Just as the buying department is the first port of call during the auditing process, returning to that point of entry is where the first changes must be implemented.
Ensuring that order procedures are made more accountable can occur by creating clearer specifications for each order processed. The knock-on effect will mean the project management of each order becomes easier, with less steps needed to reach its conclusion. Once you have a handle on optimal order figures, distribution is more effective, impacting positively on wastage and obsolescence levels.
This is where a print manager can really begin so to demonstrate their expertise, bringing in invaluable knowledge direct from production to improve the presentation of your brand. At the heart of this stage is the artwork team or department. A system should be created that makes the design framework of the brand transferable and easy to place into print production. Identifying what works for each printing press, will mean lack of delays and alterations on jobs with short deadlines.
Understanding the most effective paper stock for each type of printed material will also allow you to improve the quality of the finished product. Small tweaks often create noticeably larger differences, and with so many different finishes and stocks to combine, the print manager will be able to choose those that match the way you want to present the brand.
While the first two stages are focused on what can be changed at ground level, affecting what happens in real-time, working alongside management teams is a must. It is here that changes to the buying strategy can be authorised and understanding where historical reports of purchasing behaviour exist.
It also allows for the opportunity to structure regular assessments into the print cycle. Old habits can die hard, even with the best of intentions. The worst outcome would be to spend so much time and effort examining where and how to make improvements, only for less effective routines to creep back into play. Quick checks and feedback on the process is the best way to avoid this at all levels.
As influential as a print management team can be, it must be remembered there are limitations to what they can do. Their role is one of advisors, lending their expertise from the print industry to help achieve the best quality print materials from the point of purchase right through to the final product.
However, how a company markets their brand, or engages with their customer are not areas that they will become involved in. The idea is to work together with marketing and design teams to complement existing designs and ideas, suggesting frameworks and systems that can improve how the brand presents itself in print. They cannot influence the overall success of a marketing campaign or a particular product, as those are specialised skills best handled by leaders in their field.
Print management is an ongoing discussion that evolves with the changing times within the industry. As long as you need print within your business, then you will require inside information to help you discover the best deals available. Working alongside experienced and helpful professionals will only serve to enhance your marketing spend, ensuring that whether large or small, your business always remains on the cutting edge.
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