Who's Minding The Data?
In the 1990s and beyond, an in-plant is expected to do much more than simply print documents. Don't miss out on an opportunity to expand.
Five years ago, Tony Hinds' definition of an in-plant was probably very similar to that of most managers: an in-house printing facility.
Today, however, the number of managers clinging to that limited perception has dwindled, and Hinds—vice president of graphics and printing services at Prudential Securities, in New York—is definitely not among them. Instead, the buzz words are "document management," and most experts say you'll either embrace the concept or fall by the wayside.
"We're managing documents from concept to distribution now, not just printing them," says Hinds. "With the ongoing changes in technology and user awareness, unless you are technologically equipped to offer customers state-of-the-art resources you will not survive in this business."
Indeed, the word is out: in the 1990s and beyond, an in-plant is expected to do much more than simply print documents. After all, at their core, documents are merely data in need of assembly, formatting and maintenance. In the electronic age, that's all easily accomplished; as a result, in-plant managers are discovering that a host of new business opportunities fall right into their forte of managing data.
Hinds' shop at Prudential is a prime example. The graphics and printing services operation, with a $6 million annual budget and 47 employees, has evolved from purchasing its first DocuTech five years ago to establishing a sophisticated forms archive and retrieval system available to a customer base of 85,000 company employees around the world.
Documents are designed from scratch and either printed digitally, archived or both. DocuTech jobs are stored using Xerox extended storage, with graphics-rich documents retained on CD-ROMs or disk drives. Archived documents and generic forms are readily available to employees on the company's intranet Web site, meaning texts such as training and development manuals are now easily revised, reordered and reprinted.