Understanding Print and Mail Operations
The National Association of College Auxiliary Services took a close look at campus print and mail operations at its recent meeting.
By Ray and Catherine Chambers
Managers eager to learn more about running print and mail operations got a real education at the recent National Association of College Auxiliary Services (NACAS) meeting, held at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis.
A two-day workshop for auxiliary directors, business managers and others responsible for print and mail operations drew more than 45 participants. Entitled "Understanding Campus Print and Mail Operations: Tools for Effective Management," the workshop covered organizational issues for print and mail, financial planning, marketing, the regulatory environment and customer service.
In-plants Are Businesses
Ray Chambers, of Juniata College, led off with an overview of print and mail operations in institutions of higher education. He began by asking participants to think of printing and mailing as a process where every order is different, a characteristic that differentiates print and mail from other auxiliary services.
An in-plant facility is a business, he stressed, and it should be run like one. In-plants are unique in that they have dual responsibilities: the core competencies of the profession and the mission and culture of the institution. The in-plant manager needs to pay attention to both areas.
Chambers continued by describing offset- and toner-based operations and explaining their advantages and disadvantages.
• Offset, he explained, is characterized by relatively high startup costs but dramatic economies of scale. It may be the best way to produce large numbers of identical pieces.
• Toner-based production, on the other hand, is economical for short-run and variable production, a trend that many colleges and universities are adopting. Since a large amount of printed material is mailed, and since variable print strategies allow mail to be addressed during the imaging process, it makes good sense to align the mail center with print production.