Outsourcing--Friend or Foe?
Strategic outsourcing lets you concentrate on your areas of expertise. Here's how to analyze your in-plant and maximize your potential.
Some words strike fear into the hearts of in-plant managers: Privatization. Downsizing. Rightsizing. Facilities management. Outsourcing.
We've all faced—or know someone who has faced—privatization or facilities management threats, so some of our nervousness is justified—but not all of it. Unlike the other challenges, outsourcing, when done strategically, can be our ally.
Traditionally, in-plants have attempted to perform all types of printing and reproduction internally. Managers promoted their in-plants with slogans like "one-stop shopping" or "no job too large or small."
To fulfill customers' requests for every possible type of printed piece, in-plants stretched their human and equipment resources to the limit. Pressmen on one-color duplicator presses were asked to print four-color brochures. Bindery staff using tabletop folders and small stitchers produced large quantities of booklets and brochures.
Up until several years ago I was a follower of this do-all-work-internally philosophy. Today, I am absolutely convinced that no in-plant, regardless of its staff or equipment resources, can succeed with this mindset. Furthermore, I believe that those in-plants trying to physically produce all of their organization's printing internally are prime targets for privatization and/or facilities management challenges.
First, Segment Your Market
Let me try to explain what I mean by strategic outsourcing and the process it involves. Prior to outsourcing any service, an analysis of strengths and weaknesses is essential. You must determine systematically what your in-plant is good at and what it is not good at.
Your in-plant's business or market must be segmented into the major products and services you are producing. This list needs to be of a workable length. Do not segment it so far that every product is a separate category. For instance, you should have a category for stationery. There is no need for separate listings for letterhead, envelopes or business cards.