When Your New President Is Not a Fan of Printing
At June's In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA) conference, the importance of strategic planning was brought home most vividly in a sobering presentation by John Sarantakos, director of University of Oklahoma Printing Services, one of the country’s largest in-plants. He detailed how his award-winning operation — a model for other in-plants — faced a major challenge when a new university president took office.
Though the operation enjoyed many years of strong support from OU’s previous president, when he retired, the new president had a different way of looking at things. He was not a fan of printing, believing that promoting and marketing through electronic media would be less costly and more effective. The in-plant was challenged to prove it was a best-of-class operation through the use of metrics and KPIs.
It took Printing Services nearly 10 months to get expenses in line with revenues and establish a viable business scenario that matched what the president wanted to see. Print volumes dropped 20%, Sarantakos said, as the shop looked for ways to save money. Some staff retired or took other positions, but no one was laid off.
It was a difficult period, Sarantakos said, but in the end, his operation was successful and has had four straight months of positive results. The Administration even used the shop’s efforts as a benchmark for other departments. Printing Services came out stronger and in significantly better shape financially.
Sarantakos shared two major takeaways from the experience:
- No matter how big your operation is or how much it is respected within the organization never rest on your laurels. Strive to be the best you can be, and always provide outstanding service and products. You must distinguish your operation from the local market.
- Numbers are critical. Back up everything you say with hard data. Know what is important and track it. Identify your KPIs, have a strategic plan and keep open lines of communication with the administration.