Is Your University In-plant in Line with Your Institution’s Goals?
University in-plants are very different from corporate and other in-house printing operations. For one, their goals are different, and they can frequently shift as administrative focuses change from year to year, semester to semester. A top-notch university in-plant often has to be able to print course catalogs, prospective student brochures, alumni solicitations, faculty publications and more, all at high quality and efficiency.
University in-plants often have low budgets, but working closely with key decision makers can help in-plants intelligently direct their resources. While a corporate in-plant can keep an ear to the ground by becoming close with the marketing department, a university’s print center needs to weigh input from more avenues. Of course, the needs of a university’s marketing department’s will play a big role, but so will the needs of the admissions office, alumni outreach and other university departments.
University in-plants would be well-served to identify the decision makers who come to them most often — or those who in-plant operators think should be coming to them most often — and schedule regular meetings with them. If the admissions office has been going off-site to print brochures because the perception is that the in-plant’s current operation can’t produce high-quality color, then that’s something to bring up at the next budget meeting. It can be an opportunity to review and incorporate technology to improve overall quality, such as better color management or upgraded equipment. Especially if the numbers can show how investing in those capabilities in-house can drive big savings in the long run.
That situation reminds me of a particular university in-plant that was struggling to break even financially while customer complaints were piling up. The university threatened to shut the in-plant down if it couldn’t get itself in order. So the in-plant’s decision makers turned to the people they should have been getting input from in the first place: their customers.
They put together a customized customer survey that got more than 300 responses, and they leveraged that information, along with a thorough operational analysis, to right their ship. The resulting efficiency increases — including adjusting the in-plant’s layout to better accommodate sign production, which had become a focus for the university — coupled with upgraded, user-friendly Web-to-print software, saved the in-plant.
That’s the power of working closely with your customers — all of them, as university in-plants’ customers are many and unique. With that in mind, next time you’re looking for an idea to improve your university in-plant, just ask your customers; they are your best critics and can be your best partners.
Debbie Pavletich is the Director of the Business Consulting Practice in the Commercial & Industrial Printing Business Group of Ricoh USA, Inc. As an in-plant print industry expert, she partners with clients to identify opportunities within their organizations to implement technologies that help minimize cost, streamline processes, increase throughput, improve operational efficiency, and strengthen and communicate business value. Her customer-centered approach and experience leading print industry teams enables her to collaboratively develop solutions that are in alignment with organizational objectives.
With more than 35 years of industry experience, Pavletich’s previous work includes managing a world-class in-plant printing department at Briggs & Stratton Corp. where she was responsible for strategic planning, finances, purchasing, capital equipment implementation, and sales and marketing initiatives. Other accomplishments include early adoption and successful deployment of leading-edge technologies, and initiating a successful sales effort to external customers.
As a subject matter specialist on in-plant operations management Pavletich has delivered presentations on a wide range of industry topics, including the value of in-plant operations, color management, work flow and the implementation of software and equipment that reduced costs, improved efficiencies, and provided additional revenue.
Pavletich has a certificate in management from Marquette University and has completed comprehensive finance coursework at the University of Chicago. She has served as Vendor Representative and International President of the IPMA (In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association), and President of the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s Board of Directors.