In-plant Pandemic Assistance
Rochester Software Associates (RSA) has done several things to support our customers during the pandemic as in-plants have been forced to develop new ways to operate or reexamine how they work.
We have been working with in-plants to build new workflows or help them take full advantage of the systems they already have, so they can work smarter with fewer touches and staff, on-site or remotely.
Some print operations have traditionally done things in a way that perhaps did not fully take advantage of some of the features built into our solutions like our Web-to-print product, WebCRD. Some of the product features that enable automations and remote work that may have been considered nice but not essential have become essential now.
In addition to working with our customers to re-configure workflows during the crisis and holding virtual customer meetings to discuss how to print during the emergency, we also conducted a short survey of current WebCRD Web-to-print customers in mid-May. We fielded the pandemic impact survey to understand how our customers’ shops were being impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and to determine if there were new needs that have emerged (and could be met with potential product updates).
There were 33 survey responses, 29 of which were fully completed. Respondents were from all over U.S. and Canada and represented a variety of verticals, with 34% of the in-plants in K-12 and 21% in higher education.
When asked how the pandemic was impacting their shop (multiple answers were allowed), 67% noted a significant decrease in jobs, 61% indicated that their shop was operating with reduced or remote staff, and another 24% answered “other,” with responses ranging from indicating an uptick in secure and transactional print to receiving requests to support labeling and signage changes. Just 12% indicated that their shop was busier than normal and 9% said they had budget cuts.
'How is the Pandemic Impacting Your Shop?'
Similarly, when asked what they were doing differently in their shop, 76% of respondents were operating with reduced/remote or rotating staff. Fifty-two percent said they were cleaning more often, and 30% had instituted a process for contact-free order pick up. Just 15% said they had modified their workflow, and only 3% said they were sending more work outside because they could not produce the work.
The overwhelming majority – 87.5% – felt that WebCRD performed as they needed it to, and there was no additional feature or functionality they would have found beneficial. More than 77% felt they have made the changes needed to be ready for any disaster if a similar situation happens again.
Nearly three quarters of the in-plants were talking with customers about the needs they will have when re-opening begins in earnest and were communicating things such as:
- Scheduled and contact-free deliveries/pickups.
- We are ready and open for orders; it’s business as usual.
- There is limited access to the in-plant’s office.
- Expect slower turnaround when everyone starts returning.
When asked what customers were requesting that the in-plant do differently when the operation opened up, 80% of the respondents said there were no requests yet, but a few in-plants said that customers were asking for the in-plant to offer contactless pickup, that it be ready to provide more signage, and that it should have a visitor signup sheet so outside visitors can be traced in the event of an outbreak.
Almost 80% of those that took the survey don’t plan to offer any new services due to the pandemic. The in-plants that do plan to offer new services noted offerings of VDP, mailings, and floor signs.
While the first impacts of the crisis are hopefully behind us, I encourage you to work with your software and hardware vendors to see what else is possible, to plan for future emergencies, and to address changes that may still be needed or are coming as a result of COVID-19.
Elisha Kasinskas is Rochester Software Associates’ (RSA) award-winning marketing director. She is responsible for all marketing, public relations, social media and communications, and community building for the firm. Ms. Kasinskas joined RSA in 2010. She is a marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience in sales, product management and marketing in leading product and service business-to-business and business-to-consumer firms, including Pinnacle (Birds Eye) Foods, Level 3, HSBC, and a number of regional high-tech firms. She holds an RIT MBA and a BS, Marketing from Radford University. Kasinskas is a frequent moderator for industry speaking sessions, an in-plant blogger, and has received industry awards including the IPMA Outstanding Contributor award. She was an OutputLinks Women of Distinction class of ’15 inductee. Her marketing work with IPMA has secured multiple awards from the American Marketing Association (AMA).