If I Wanted it Tomorrow, That’s When I’d Ask For it
Every five or six months somebody on one of the in-plant discussion sites or blogs raises the question about dealing with rush jobs. You all know the drill: a customer shows up at the in-plant with a job that must be completed in an impossible time frame, and the in-plant manager asks for input on how others would deal with it.
A fair number on respondents come back with horror stories of their own. They describe inconsiderate, disorganized customers who can’t plan their own work and expect the in-plant to bail them out. Then, to add insult to injury, many times the in-plant gets the job out on time, usually involving some heroic effort (and overtime) and the damnable customer fails to pick it up. The job sits there for days while the in-plant folks stew.
Whine, whine, whine!
Other respondents take a completely different approach—one that I subscribe to. Some of us see a rush job as an opportunity to add value, to show how an in-plant can contribute to the core purpose of the organization. Rush jobs are an opportunity to demonstrate knock-your-socks-off customer service.
My first job as an in-plant manager was at the City of Austin, Texas. I reported to a guy named V. Glenn Cootes, who was the director of Public Information. Glenn was a newspaperman and had deep roots both in writing/editing and production scheduling and deadlines. Glenn usually dealt with very high profile projects, so when he was involved in something you knew it was important. He was also used to a high-pressure work environment—an environment where production time was a luxury that was not always available.
One day Glenn called me to his office to pick up a job. We went over the details, and as I left I said something like “I’ll have this for you tomorrow,” thinking that he would be impressed.
Ray Chambers, CGCM, MBA, has invested over 30 years managing and directing printing plants, copy centers, mail centers and award-winning document management facilities in higher education and government.
Most recently, Chambers served as vice president and chief information officer at Juniata College. Chambers is currently a doctoral candidate studying Higher Education Administration at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). His research interests include outsourcing in higher education and its impact on support services in higher education and managing support services. He also consults (Chambers Management Group) with leaders in both the public and private sectors to help them understand and improve in-plant printing and document services operations.