Tag Archives: Print And Mail Outsourcing

Print management. How do you save money on your print

At least once a month I’m asked the same perennial question: Caroline, how can we save money on print? How can print management help me with reducing our print budget? What print management solutions are there available for my budget? print mail services

My response includes the following:-

  • What aspects of print are you looking to cut back on?
  • How many printers do you have in the building?
  • What documents does the business generate?
  • How often do your order ‘print’?

Now you start to get the picture. It’s not that easy to simplify the answer as there are many variables.

The printing of transactional business documents is a fundamental business process for many organisations and in spite of the drive toward paperless offices, companies in every industry generate reams of paper on a daily basis for record keeping, customer facing letters, direct mail and internal correspondence.

Unsurprisingly most companies I talk to are unaware of their printing costs. They have no idea what they are spending on print because it is unknown and not a monitored business expense.

When I ask them what their annual costs are I’m usually met with a blank stare.

A business cannot implement a print cost cutting strategy if the costs are unknown.

One of the main reasons, is that it is perceived as a necessary business process and therefore an ongoing cost to the business which doesn’t require to have a budget attributed to it.

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How do I reduce my print costs – keeping it simple?

1/ Digital emails are uniformly used for communicating but do they really need to be printed and filed? By categorising (outlook) or labelling (Gmail) is a great way of indexing those all important emails for reference at a later date.

2/ Review before printing – Really do you need to print that document. It’s something I’ve had to work hard at myself as I hover over the ‘print’ button. Why am I printing this, what am I going to do with it and does anyone else need to read it? Therefore ask yourself do I really need to print it? Use the ‘preview’ before printing especially when it comes to spreadsheets they never fit onto an A4 unless you specify fit to one page or you make sure the orientation is correct. Otherwise ten pages of unwanted and unuseable print streams out and then gets binned.

print management services

3/ Recycle – that discarded bit of paper that you printed off one side only can be used for scrap notes and for doodling yes I know it sounds boring but how many times when printing something out do we notice a glaringly obvious mistake and then print the whole document again? When we only need to print the relevant page. I use these bits of paper like a montage and then sketch or doodle over the top of the print using a bright colour pen.

4/ Do you really need to print that document in colour? If it’s a draft document then print it out mono, check it and then print in colour.

5/ Switch off –  rather than letting devices go into standby mode switch off before leaving the office. It’s all part of keeping costs down.

How do I reduce my print costs using print management software solutions?

1/ How many personal printers do you have spread across your organisation? Whilst the cost of personal printers has reduced considerably the cost of toner cartridges remains pricey. Opting for a MFPD (multi-functional print devices) using a managed print services option is a sure fire way of saving time and money.

2/ Optimise biometrics for printing using fingerprint or key card technology.  If a document is sent to a local printer by mistake or staff print the wrong document or change their mind and want to cancel the print job this is easily done using secure print tracking software.

3/ Cut back on waste using print management solutions this allows staff to print only what they need on the right printer suitable for the document. Print software routes the document to a mono printer if it is black and white, colour to a colour printer.

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4/ Manage your paperflow by having an effective document management system . This is an important step in ensuring a workflow pattern in the company. Document scanning software captures, indexes, archives and retrieves all your documents by creating a secure digital file cabinet.

5/ Track print costs by using print management software that enforces internal rules for staff reducing print volume and redirecting print jobs to the most cost effective device. Print tracking software shows where costs are being incurred and what is being printed and by whom. Costs are tracked across an entire company calculating the cost on the volume of print per person and by department.

There you have ten ways to reduce your print costs. There are others of course but as each organisation is unique I’ve covered the ones that I think are of the most use.

 

 

Print management and cross media marketing

print management and cross media marketingThe last five years have seen an unprecedented rise in electronic and social media.

The final death bell for print would not have been an unrealistic thought.

Jump forward five years and print remains a respected medium used to deliver powerful marketing messages connecting the consumer in a world that has too many social media distractions.

Consumers want choice and each has a different need that is unique and personalised this has created a unique niche for a very different kind of print management company that is able to drive communications in both print and digital format. It also makes print outsourcing an important consideration for businesses to consider when planning a digital and print marketing campaign.

Being able to work with an outsourcing partner that can manage and integrate the various channels of communication makes it a very effective way of maximising business efficiencies and savings.

Brochures, magazines, books and direct mail communications can stand out from the crowd when good content and great design is paramount.

Print has one major advantage over its digital adversary – longevity and undivided attention from it’s audience. cross media and print management

When a piece of direct mail, postcard, catalogue is in the hands of the consumer they are more engaged than when online. The web and other electronic methods of communication serve up distractions with competing adverts and ‘noise’.

We live in an age of choice and consumers want to be communicated to the way they want.

They may be happy to receive an e-newsletter but might want printed statements and it is down to the marketers to deliver the right combination of personalised communications that suits each of their targeted audiences needs.

By making print stand out more with great content and design, adding colour providing excellent finishing thus creating a long lasting product only cements print’s relationship with the consumer by providing an engaging and a lasting connection.

How often do you receive a great piece of direct mail?

Maybe you were attracted by the message or it was an interesting information piece that you want to keep and then pin to your reminder board or to the fridge. Print has achieved its goal by creating a lasting impact.

Managing print and integrating it with a cross media marketing communications mix requires a lot of thought and effort and is a complicated process.

It requires a dedicated print management company with expertise in printing, design, database management, postal and fulfilment processes.

content personalisation

For many companies that level of print management skill and expertise is beyond most marketing departments and is not a core competency making outsourcing an ideal solution for improved print management internally.

Outsourcing the cross media marketing mix involves consolidating print management and print procurement with one company capable of delivering printed products with online electronic solutions in addition to being able to provide the vital consulting services needed to ensure that any cross media marketing campaign gives the best return on investment.

It’s a balance between co-ordinating print with communication across all channels.

Marketers gain a competitive advantage working with a print management partner by transforming the way they design, create, produce, distribute and integrate their customer communications.

Marketers benefit from outsourcing print management in the following ways:-

  • Optimising customer communications across digital and print channels
  • Maximise the skills and expertise of a print management partner with access to many suppliers
  • Brand identity is aligned by centralising all printed and digital marketing communications
  • Combining print spend across multiple clients maximises cost savings
  • Access to first class print production, pre-press, design and fulfilment optimising each campaign to the full
  • Greater speed and flexibility to market for revenue generating campaigns and critical customer communications
  • Compliance by working with a print management company who has already vetted and ensured their suppliers are able to deliver the marketers campaigns on time and in budget
  • Data quality management by improving bad data and removing duplicated information ensuring that personalisation is cost effective

Organisations who outsource their marketing communications gain by acquiring expertise, a dedicated print management team capable of managing the variables within a cross media marketing campaign without the marketer having to source this knowledge themselves.

The business of customer communications is ever changing.

With more channels to market to get your message heard requires an organisation to be agile in managing customer preferences across all channels.

Social media is continuing to develop it’s role in customer communication and real time mobile marketing and ‘local marketing’ are still being realised making it increasingly difficult for a company to manage these processes in-house.

Companies stand to gain benefits by working with a provider who have solutions that include print, digital and document management that can deliver personalised marketing.

Marketers can integrate their marketing campaigns like never before and provide bespoke personalised communications to match the customers wants resulting in stronger brands and increased customer loyalty.

Collaboration with a ‘print-neutral’ print management partner who can place communications jobs where their customers will get the greatest benefits ensures that the marketer gains expertise, consultation, access to a variety of multi-channel distribution networks, brand consistency and major cost benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

Top tips for choosing the right printing company

 

outsource print

How do you choose the right printing company?

Confronted with so many potential suppliers how do you decide which printing company to choose for your print requirements or how do you outsource your payslip printing?

How do you find the right service provider when there are so many to choose from?

Which one do you select and what selection criteria do you employ?

Until recently, companies did not pay much attention to the way they reviewed their print strategies and requirements. Little or no consideration for cost was given to the various print devices, paper, supplies, general print and consumables being ordered on a daily basis.

All that changed with the onset of the financial crisis.

Companies are more aware of the need to review their print requirements.

The biggest problem is that company executives or department heads have no idea how much it is really costing them to process, print and mail out a plethora of items each week.

They have no idea of the overall cost of their print bill, the quantity of supplies they get through in a week, the number of suppliers they are using and the time spent resolving hardware problems.

Money is wasted by the continued use of unnecessary devices, obsolete hardware, staff spending time on print and I.T issues resulting in hours being lost to dealing with different vendors and suppliers.

Many companies are now appreciating the benefit of an outsourced print service reducing the complexity of managing various suppliers and spiralling in-house costs and managing print and distribution in-house.

Outsourcing print whether to a print management services company see here or by adopting a managed print service here requires knowledge and understanding of what your organisation is trying to achieve.

Too often buyers focus on one thing only and that is PRICE.

Unfortunately choosing on price alone results in the customer being dissatisfied with the quality, service or the end product.

print outsourcing business documemts

Price should not be the only consideration when evaluating suppliers and/or vendors.

“We are buying on price only” or “we want the cheapest solution” are typical of the current climate.

The buyer can not expect a great quality product or service if he/she is buying on price alone.

To then add value to a service or product so the customer benefits becomes an impossible task.

Most companies don’t want the hassle of sourcing suppliers to manage their print, payroll or billing few know where to start looking or what considerations need to be taken into account when outsourcing.

Print is the end product – from printed payslips and invoices, cheques, direct mail to the use of MFPD’s multi-functional print devices managed in-house, all deliver paper in some shape or format and not many companies are equipped to research and employ print services that will save them money.

What is happening in the market place?

It is a print buyers haven, assuming they have the knowledge to purchase print or skills to outsource the required business function.

Print management companies, print suppliers/consumables, vendors and manufacturers are desperate to win work at any cost and the buyer can get what they want at a price they are prepared to pay.

Companies seeking these services are going to market lacking the skills required to source the right partner to work with.

Print checklist20 point checklist of tips to think about before choosing your print supplier

Before you even consider the following list you need to think about the services you require?

Have an approval criteria or list of what you are looking for notably:-

Are you wanting to outsource all your corporate print from letter-headings to billing and payslip printing? (Print Management)

Are you looking to reduce the number of print devices and print in-house (Managed Print Services)

Are you looking to reduce the cost of one specific area of print such as your billing or cheque and payment processing?

Once you know what it is you are trying to achieve then the following list will provide a useful guideline, it is by no means complete or exhaustive.

1. Choose a company that can offer innovative solutions capable of adapting to your business environment.

2. That can/will provide ongoing support, consultation and recommendations that take into account your evolving business needs.

3. That has a complete solution for your requirements i.e if you are outsourcing your payslip printing you might want to adopt multi-channel distribution that includes printing and sending them electronically.

4. Offers best in class service and delivery, experienced personnel, good operational processes and protocols particularly if you are outsourcing cheque printing. 

5. Check the quality of the work – what do they do, what is their niche and how will they deliver the service to you.

6. Technically competent – will the incumbent supplier be able to deliver what they say they can?

7. Is the proposed supplier financially stable?

8. Is the supplier reliable – will they fulfil/deliver the product/service in a timely manner?

9. Are they enthusiastic – can they demonstrate the extent of their knowledge of the product or service they are proposing?

10. Does the structure of the company indicate reliability and longevity in other words they aren’t going to disappear in 6 months time.print checklist

11. Do they have experienced personnel capable of advising beyond printing for example print management companies do more than just manage your print they are multi-channel partners they can provide expertise on direct marketing, SMS, data management, social media and promotional gift items.

12. Do ask for case studies and testimonials from current customers to authenticate the suppliers statements.

13. Don’t make your decision solely on price – cheap prices mean inferior quality and service.

14. Ask as many questions as possible no matter how trivial to ensure you are confident in the future service.

15. Establish what other services the supplier can provide this is useful for any future business/company developments you might have. For example they might provide direct marketing print and design capability or can advise you on your social media marketing strategy.

16. Visit the site or manufacturing premises – is it secure if printing cheques and payslips? If it’s a managed print solution ask to visit a managed site to establish how it works or request a reference site to discuss how the company are benefiting from MPS (managed print service)

17. Check the reputation of the supplier – ask for a client list and check the website what do they talk about, what services are they advertising?

18. Ask for a trial run for example can the print company offer to print some basic items free of charge? If it’s an outsource service such as payslip printing ask the supplier if they are able to take a data file and provide a print out for a minimum fee so you experience the service first hand.

19. Use social media to see how your supplier engages with its audience. Do they offer expert advice and help in the form of great content, are they on all the social media networks?

20. Be loyal to your print provider or outsource partner. Once you have found the right printing company or partner keep them. Having a good relationship will ensure you can look to them for all manner of printed or outsourced information and advice and in turn they are more likely to offer you discounts, give you a first class service and provide additional services.

Are there any criteria you would use in addition to the above?

How did you find your print partner and how successful has the relationship been?

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Print outsourcing business documents

Print outsourcing business documents

Managing and understanding your document flow will imrpove business processes

Every organisation public or private, education or charity faces the ever growing challenges of how to manage the printing and document processes in their work place.

Documents inflow or outflow, hard copy or electronic are the life blood of many organisations.

You only have to walk through office buildings to see the extent of document use its related workflow and how they are the embodiment of our everyday lives.

A document that’s been printed, a glossy brochure presented to a customer, even a business card, the document remains the formal method of business communication between employees, teams and customers.

Without any of this information the continuity of your business would cease to function.

Therefore the value of adding control to the print flow is paramount in ensuring continuity of your business.

Any business document outsourcing strategy needs to be well thought out.

Some questions to consider:-

1. How are your business processes affected by information and document management?

A document process forms a business process. By understanding the life cycle of a document for example, how does it enter the building via fax, email or mail then moves into the workflow of the business, is then processed and finally archived or sent back to suppliers or customers.

2. Where do you want your company or organisation to be in the next 3-5 years?

Do you want to improve core business processes?

Streamline and improve supplier payments (AP and AR) have a specific targeted marketing campaign, improve customer services?

If the answer is yes then you will need to prioritise your business documents.

print outsourcing business documemts

Outsourcing business documents – improve business efficiency

 

Invoice processing and billing is a key fundamental business process, without your invoices going out on time money wont be collected, suppliers will chase payment before the company has been paid, your business starts to falter.

Does marketing have the relevant collateral – corporate print, brochures, letter headings does it tell the same story or are there too many different documents with incorrect colours all relating a different story.

Are the corporate colours reflected across the company website?

These are primary examples of the importance of managing your business documents but you will need to engage on a deeper level to understand your document processes and how they move through the business process.

Print outsourcing business documents whether its customer sales letters, invoices, statements, remittances or marketing collateral can transform a paper laden business.

How?

outsource your printed business documentsOutsourcing business documents provides continuity and consistency of quality across the departments within your company because it increases customer retention, improves productivity and reduces operating costs by allowing your people to focus on your core business.

Outsourcing adds a greater range of services that you wouldn’t have had previously because the supplier providing the printing and mailing service can offer advice on how best to deliver content and maximise the use of white space.

Making the case for outsourcing some or all of these documents couldn’t be easier here’s why?

  1. Improved cash flow – seasonal fluctuations, staff absences,  I.T. failures can all impact your invoice printing which impacts your cash flow
  2. Improved customer service – communicating with your customers regularly with content that is correct has never been more important. Making sure the documents they receive are accurate relevant and on time increases the longevity of retaining your customer
  3. Reducing paper wastage a contentious issue for many businesses but by outsourcing critical business documents and using mail merge facilities and document verification on all mailings ensures that documents are consolidated into one envelope
  4. Reduce cost by improving competitiveness of the organisation through more efficient I.T and business systems, specialist knowledge, streamlining business processes resulting in your staff  engaged in core business activities rather than mundane document generation which is easy to outsource.

Outsourcing printed business documents can incorporate multi-channel distribution of all your documents some of which can be printed and mailed, the rest electronically sent to the recipient. To learn more about how this could work for you click here.

If you print personalised transactional business documents – invoices, statements, reminders, appointment letters then talk to us about print outsourcing. You can print all of the above and more using our print-2-mail service click here for more details without leaving your desk, its easy.

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How to mail out your letters on a budget using a hybrid mail solution?

 

We are often asked can we just mail out 300 invoices or 300 of anything come to thing of it?

The answer is very definitely YES, you can!

Sometimes the volume might be more or less but by using a hybrid mail solution an SME is guaranteed to save money on postage, printing and processing.

Hybrid mail is a combination of printing and posting as a bundled service and we can combine small mailings for many customers and use DSA (Downstream Access ) pricing which saves you time and money on postage.

How?

Easy.

Using your web browser you can access our print-2-mail web portal and we provide you with a user name and password. There’s no software to install and you can use a PC or Mac.

If you have a document you want to print and send out, print-2-mail does the rest. The document needs to be converted to a PDF first.

By downloading the print driver you don’t even need to create PDF’s. Selecting the print driver launches the application, uploads your documents and converts them to PDF’s.

The print driver is easy to download as the interface provides a “print driver download”

What can I use hybrid mail for?

Pretty much any document you need to print and mail out.

You can print virtually any type of A4 document, single or double-sided, colour or black on white only. There’s no limit to the number of pages so reports, dissertations even and customer letters are fine.

You can load variable length documents so invoices and statements are no problem. You simply create the document before you load them to the system.

 What do I need?

An internet connection and the most up to date web browser – Internet Explorer 8 for Windows XP or 9 for Windows Vista or Windows 7, Mozilla Firefox 12 or Google Chrome.

When the application opens you have the option to print single and multiple page letters, in black or colour with the option of uploading your company logos.

Simply add your logo to the document as an image and we can print it along with the letter.

The wizard (there are seven steps) has been set up so you can walk through it and process your document quickly and efficiently.

The mailing wizard takes care of incomplete addresses by providing suggestions and it tidies your addresses as well. This is done using the Royal Mail’s PAF database (Postcode Authentication Finder) On completion of the address validation the wizard can create an accurate address file that can be downloaded as a PDF so you can make sure your customer addresses are accurate and complete.

How quickly will my mailing be posted out?

You have two options ‘Same Day” and “Next Day”. For same day all orders placed by 4PM are printed and mailed the same day. For next day, any orders placed up to midnight day 1 are printed and mailed out the next day. 

How secure is it?

The system is very secure and documents are uploaded using an encrypted HTTPS connection (the same standard used for on line banking). All your documents are printed in an APACS approved, ISO27001 security print factory.

How much does it cost?

Until you’ve completed the wizard and finalised your print options, the summary page will summarise the total cost of your mailing at the end of the process so before you print you will know exactly what you will pay. Suffice to say it will be less than the cost of a 2nd class stamp and it includes, the paper, printing, folding, inserting and mailing out!

There is no contractual obligation so if you choose to use it only once then that’s up to you. But we are so confident that you’ll love it that you will wonder why how you managed before.

Now for the really good news…

Apart from calling us initially for a demo that’ll be the last time you’ll need to talk to us so that really is good news!

Which means that you can just get on and print and mail whenever you need to you’ll have control over what you print, when and where you post out.

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Printing mailing services. How to benefit from cheaper print and mailing solutions

Postage charges increased last April 2012 with a 1st class stamp costing 60p and a second class stamp 50p. In spite of these increases many businesses mail out a constant stream of marketing letters, invoices, direct mail and obligatory customer letters and printing mailing services have never seemed more expensive.

If your company or organisation cannot reclaim VAT, your postage costs can only go one way – UP.

Businesses that rely on bulk mailings and use the royal mail’s bulk mailing services such as mailsort, presstream, walksort, cleanmail, packetpost, advertising mail, sustainable mail and standard tariff will have experienced rising mailing costs.

Irrespective of escalating postage and mailing costs there are a number of measures that an organisation can undertake to ensure the cost of print and mailing is kept at a reasonable cost level.

How?

By optimising all or some of the following.

Multi-channel distribution 

Multi-channel distribution of business documents – your data file is broken down into those letters that are required to be printed and mailed, electronically sent or documents that need to be printed and then returned to a head office or delivered to regional offices all from one data file. Providing you with a complete printing and mailing service.

How can this work for my business? print-2-mail desktop to door mat

Working with a mailing solutions partner who will advise you what the alternatives are and provide guidance on the best method to ensure your mailing is a success.

Whether it is getting those invoices out to your customers on time or a direct mail piece, a print and mailing solutions provider will take your data file containing names and addresses, extract the letters that are required to be printed and mailed, electronically send documents to those recipients and return those documents that are required to be internally distributed back to head office and regional locations.

To find out how to choose the right mailing solutions provider click here

print-2-mail from desktop to doormat mail solutions

DSA 

DSA is the term used to describe mail which has been collected and distributed by a competitor of the Royal Mail but is delivered into the Royal Mail centres for final processing onto local offices. The cost savings per envelope depending on weight can be substantial saving companies as much as 0.24p per envelope.

Electronic

Not quite as straightforward to get your customers to accept the fact that you will be communicating with them solely via email and not everyone of your customers will want to receive an electronic bill, statement or letter for all sorts of different reasons but as long as you follow the process I’ve outlined here you can see your postage costs reduce substantially.

Beware, your customers perception may be a negative one.

If you are wanting to drive your mailing costs down by moving to an electronic system of sending out your documents you need to be aware that some customers will view that you have effectively passed the costs of processing and in many cases, printing to your customer.

If they don’t have an effective accounts payable/invoice processing system then there is the manual processing of your document at the customers end resulting in additional work.

Aside of the print and mailing solutions there are also known desktop mailing solutions.

How does this work?

Easy really if you click here there’s more information on how the system can help you reduce your mailing costs or click here to find out how mailing on a budget can make a difference to your organisation.

Finally…

Avoid the use of C4 envelopes

Avoid having to use 1st class Royal Mail

Maximise your discounts by using downstream access mailing

Use a hybrid mail solution like the one described above.

For more information on hybrid mailing solutions click here

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How print management saves time and money.

20 pund note

A managed outsource printing service = savings for your business

Easy really, the majority of businesses don’t have a clue how much they actually spend on corporate print such as letter-headings, invoices, paper, consumables in fact, anything print related. This is because there is no methodology to managing the process from purchasing, stocking and re-ordering.

A print management company can provide a fully automated and customised print management service which will help measure and control your printing costs.

The first step in the process is understanding how much your current spend is on print this is achieved by carrying out a print audit of the various documents used by the business.

A print management company seeks to understand why and how documents are used, what the order cycle is and whom the suppliers are? From the information gleaned determines the total print spend!

A project manager oversees the whole process from start to finish culminating in a proposal detailing current print costs V cost savings on the various print items ordered.

Emphasis will be to demonstrate cost savings through efficiency driven processes.

Each quarter, a review of the usage of the various items is undertaken to see where further cost savings can be made. Managing your company print, usage and spend should be an on-going process of analysis and review.

Managed Print Services is at the other end of the spectrum to print management and enables companies to manage the flow of print in an organisation.

Equitrac print management allows you to automatically control and manage how print flows through your organisation – improving productivity and maximising time.

Using print management software organisations are able to set up automated print controls and rules to optimise the way print moves around the company.  Employees can be denied printing certain applications such as email by automatically routing jobs to the most cost-effective printer for that task.

For example a solid ink colour device is more cost effective to print obligatory emails and letters rather than a colour-cartridge-guzzling desktop printer for colour runs, colour print can be prevented altogether unless user authorised.

Industry analysts estimate that 44% of printing is unnecessary

  • People are printing things more than once which is wasting huge amounts of money
  • They may send a document to print, then notice an error on screen
  • A document is not at the printer when they go to retrieve it
  • The toner is low or there is a paper jam

This results in wasted paper, consumables and larger electricity bills. Print management software enable a more efficient, leaner and greener print environment.

What do you think? Have you implemented one or both solutions? How have they worked for you? Please do share your success or disaster stories.

To learn more about how you can regain control of your office printing costs, contact us today.

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