In-Plant Graphics December 2011
THE GRAPHIC communications industry is in the middle of an evolution to expand services beyond print to include cross-media and marketing. Unfortunately, the in-plant market is largely absent from the move, according to an Info-Trends research study The Evolution of the Cross-Media Marketing Services Provider. The key barrier keeping in-plants from making the transformation is that they don’t understand why or how to offer cross-media marketing services.
What will your in-plant look like 10 years from now? That question was offered for consideration on a popular in-plant listserv recently. Responses ranged from pessimistic (in-plants will be history) to hopeful (we will provide new and varied services), with some managers sharing tales of downsizing, and others of business growth.
A brand new organization has been formed, dedicated to helping in-plants obtain economically affordable and administratively feasible FSC certification. Print Resources, LLC, was created to provide FSC certification at a lower cost to in-plant print operations through the InGreen group certification program.
The National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) has produced a new white paper, "How to Improve In-Plant Performance," that will help in-plant managers understand how to measure, prove and improve the value of their operations. Authored by Howie Fenton, the white paper covers a range of performance-enhancing ideas, metrics and proven tactics that are based on first-hand experience with today's in-plant production and management issues.
IT'S HAPPENING all the time in the commercial printing world. No longer defining themselves simply as print service providers, commercial printers are working hard to transition into marketing service providers. It's a difficult journey, but they see this as one of the few viable ways to grow from a price-driven, commodity operation with shrinking volumes and margins into a lucrative business with high profit potential.
In folklore, silver bullets were used to deal with exceptional problems, like monsters. Organizations are dealing with some pretty exceptional problems, too, and “outsourcing” has been touted as management’s silver bullet to deal with them.
In my conversations with managers across the country, one challenge constantly surfaces: justifying the resources (people, budgets and equipment) needed to run an excellent operation. This is one of the biggest challenges that I face too, but over time I've learned ways to be successful in acquiring these necessary resources.
THE IN-PLANT industry, like many other industries, has been knocked off balance by the economic turmoil of the past several years. As companies have been forced to cut costs, print has been identified as an area of potential cost savings. Gone are the days of 500-page, end-of-year reports and formal printed presentations. These major drivers of print volume have been replaced by documents housed on SharePoint sites and PowerPoint decks to be presented digitally. And now that companies have made this behavioral change, they are unlikely to change back.
The push to outsource any function not directly connected to an organization's core business overlooks the intangible costs of doing business that way, which ultimately impacts the company's bottom line. Your job is to prove your value.
In partnership with InfoTrends, Xerox commissioned a research project that documents the oft-hidden value of in-plants. The results are compiled in a white paper targeted at the enterprise's senior level managers and titled "The Strategic Value of an In-House Printing Operation: Trends and Best Practices."
THIS IS going to be a little weird, but I am going to have an argument with myself over the future of offset printing. I must caution the weak of heart to be prepared for violence and possible rough language.
To survive and prosper in these difficult economic times, in-plant managers need to ask themselves some soul-searching questions to establish why the department exists and confirm what it offers its host organization, both now and in the future.