Modern Process, Better Outcome

A recently published research paper concluded that “structured management” is tightly linked to performance and success. When the data was converted into rankings, print services finished 21st out of 22 industries. As a result, the problem in print services is not manufacturing, it is the processes and practices that surround production.

So, what does the print industry have to do to make progress? 

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

For that reason, we are presenting a high level summary of a customer’s print experience, and proposing a new way to make progress.

Understanding Customer

First of all, finding the right printer is hard work. Who has the time for that? Also, managing a project means working with an inside team, outside suppliers, and constant change. There is a lot to do. And, reaching a positive outcome is not easy. How will you impress your boss? In the book Winning Decisions, the author’s show what you can and can’t control:

While the ‘purpose of business is to create a customer’ we want to better understand their role and goals:

• Today, there is more to manage than ever before, multiple formats to create, numerous reports to submit, and doing so with resource constraints.

• You have to sort through a dozen segments, and 20,000 suppliers, to find a match for a project.

• And then you have to manage the flow of information to plan, coordinate, and deliver. All while staying on budget, on time, and consistent with brand guidelines.

As we map the process you can see how each step impacts the next, so it is important to get it right at the start. And, as much as you try to plan every detail, there will always be change:

Above all, the key is to control what you can control. And then try to prepare for what you can’t control. In Winning Decisions, an outcome looks like this:

Certainly we all want to ‘deserve success,’ but a good process and a good decision may still end in a bad outcome. A bad break can happen. And, factors that you can’t control will get in the way.

The Four Stages Of A Decision Process

Whether it is formal or not, a decision will go through four steps:

• Frame: outline project objectives, brand goals, and specifications.

• Gather intelligence: research the market to understand what is available.

• Come to a conclusion: review information, discuss with sales, and make a decision.

• Learn from the experience: keep information for future reference.

At various points, a customer will turn to a print service for help. When they do it is for things like what type of paper best represents your brand, how to develop specs to improve production, and what factors will create budget risk. But, the printer has a bias to use the presses they own, and they want to make commission. That means they may not be doing what is best for you. And, it is these kind of practices that contribute to the industry’s poor ranking.

Print Is As An Information Industry

At each step of process, what is needed most is information. For example:

• If there is a price request, sales, pricing, and production re-key details into off line systems.

• When specs, timing, or proofs change, there is no easy way to see if information is up to date.

• A new team member needs information, but there is no central place to get up to speed.

Because if you can’t find what you need the process is hard to control. On the other hand, if information is at your fingertips, up to date, and more complete, then process is easy. It creates knowledge, and better decision making.

When it comes to production, if there is a problem it is almost always due to bad information. It is basic stuff like specs, timing, and approvals. And, it causes confusion, delays, and costly mistakes. And once we start with a print service, we are limited by their equipment, which makes it hard to adapt when change happens.

As we compare the old way and the new way, we can see things clearly:

As a result, the old way adds up to a 21st place ranking. And, if you want real progress it has to be rooted in customer first principles. After 25 years, it is time for a new way:

• People – lean on experts who guide a customer in their best interest.

• Information – get information you need to make better decisions.

• Tools – use modern tools to save time and money.

• Resources – find more printers to get better response, quality, and savings.

Good Decision + Good Process + Adaptive Process = Connected Print Experience

A modern print service enables participants to do what they do best. PrintElements is a connected print service. Learn more at