All posts by Caroline

Caroline is a Director at Digital Print Management, a leading print management company specialising in providing print and mailing solutions. Having spent 25 years in the transpromo industry she is one of the UK's leading expert's in print and mail solutions.

Invoice Processing. How to automate the process

Invoice processing and printing.

There are many companies still choosing to print these time critical documents in-house.

Choosing an end to end invoice processing and scanning solution will speed up the accounts payable process.

Choosing an end to end invoice processing and scanning solution will speed up the accounts payable process.

Why?

Here are some well documented reasons…

Because its too expensive to outsource.
Because we don’t want to give up control.
I want our envelopes post marked with our address details.
Because the Directors want to retain control of the print and despatch of our statements/invoices

If it’s taking you and your company too much time to process and generate your invoices and statements then you really should think about automating the processing by opting for a print services provider.

A printing mailing service provider specialises in the process, printing and inserting of invoices and statements.

Let’s look at the above points in more detail.

Twenty years ago outsourcing this onerous task would have been cost effective for the for high volume generators of statements and invoices.

Today, technology has changed and improved to such a degree that any company generating a few hundred invoices will benefit from tangible cost savings in postage and processing especially when this is weighted against the costs of doing it in-house factor in over ordering of stationery, consumables, maintenance fees, inserting machines and employees who are involved in the process too.

Retaining control – The question that needs to be addressed is do you trust your billing software to output the correct data? Are you painstakingly checking certain customer invoices for errors or omissions prior to actually sending them out?

Even if you have specific customers that require you to check prior to sending most, if not all mailing services will have a medium with which you can isolate those documents view and approve prior to print or sending electronically.

Envelope details – this is given as most print companies will suggest that the outer envelopes will be pre-printed with a return address, company logo and postage indicia in the corporate colours.

Company Directors are insistent in keeping the process in house – Next time the accounts department process the monthly, weekly invoice or statement run ask the Directors to spend time in the department just to see what’s involved in the process.

Present them with a time V cost analysis report that you’ve done in advance, costs both visible and invisible should be shown then see what response you get? I’d be very surprised if they didn’t exhale sharply and respond with “really it costs that much!”

What are the benefits of automating the process?

e-billing...If your company regularly sends out invoices and statements in a paper format as well as providing electronic billing then you will benefit from having this process automated.

The outsourcing of invoice and statement printing is not as complicated as you think.

By understanding a company’s billing cycle, how the information (data) is extracted out of the accounts system and how to send the data are taken care of by the mailing partner.

If managed correctly by the printing services company the cost savings will be evident.

For example by speeding up the processing time i.e reducing the time taken to despatch bills or statements, receipt of a datafile on day 1 can result in despatch the same day, which can have a dramatic impact on the DSO (days outstanding).

There is minimal time spent by the company once the data file has been emailed because the mail service provider does all the work.

Pre-sorting your bills and statements specifically for Royal Mail or DSA (downstream access) will offer huge savings on postage.

Outsourcing this non core business activity enables you to have the option of sending paper based items and an electronic version as well – multi channel distribution.

The data file can be pre-sorted for bills and statements that are required to be printed and posted or to be electronically sent.

In effect, your only concern is ensuring the upload of the information file. This is the only part of the process that your business truly gets involved in.

The biggest advantage of outsource bill and statement printing is that your outsource provider does all the work associated with printing and prepping of your invoices and statements for mailing.

You also have the flexibility to change the layout and format of your documents because most outsource printers can print in colour at the same time as printing the statement or invoice information therefore implementing a form change becomes effortless!

Most customers have come to expect paperless billing and it is cheaper than sending a paper version.

There is also a compelling argument to outsource the processing of your electronic bills and statements.

Of course there is always the option of implementing a complete end to end invoice processing scanning solution.

For more information about how invoice processing and scanning solutions can streamline your company process then click here for more information.

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 What do you do, how do you manage the process of billing your clients? Let us know your thoughts so we can share it.

 

Why Outsource Your Payslip Printing?

 

There are many benefits for a company considering outsourcing its payroll processing and printing.

Businesses face enough challenges on a daily basis and being able to streamline some of the internal processes is advantageous. One of the key areas is by outsourcing either payroll processing or payroll printing, or both because it affords the following benefits:

  • Cost reduction
  • Reduces the workload of the payroll department
  • Reliability – outsourced payroll processing and printing will speed up the process providing paper and electronic distribution of payslips
  • Expertise in payslip printing – assuming you select the right service provider
  • Flexibility to meet your needs over time and as the business grows
  • Speed and accuracy using pressure seal mailers
  • As the payroll is processed offsite there are no concerns with data integrity or data protection
  • Allied to the above are the provision of a full disaster recovery facility which means that your payslips will be processed and your data will remain totally secure
  • There is no expensive in-house I.T as expertise is provided by the incumbent supplier

How do you choose the right partner?

  • Do they have ISO27001 and can demonstrate secure processes and procedures?
  • Expertise – how knowledgeable about payroll systems and software is the service provider?
  • Can data be accepted from more than one source i.e. multi-files, multi-channels, multi-locations?
  • What mailing or distribution options are available by your managed service provider i.e. mailing, return to head office, electronic to email or online payslips
  • Offer the flexibility to meet your specific needs?
  • Can they demonstrate excellent customer service?

Find out more about payslip printing at Digital Print Management or call us.

Please call us if you are thinking about outsourcing your payroll printing and would like independent and free advice or email us.

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Outsource Printing V Printing In-House

Outsourcing print saves a company time and money.

 

In the years I have been involved with outsourcing print one question that always comes up is the case for and against outsourcing print!

Print Outsourcing or outsource printing is not a new phenomenon by any means however, there are still many UK companies that manage their print in-house, in fact as I write this article I will be meeting with an independent foreign bank to discuss this very topic!

I am very biased of course, it’s a no brainer to me. I know that over the years we have saved companies thousands of £’s which has translated onto their bottomline!

However, I like to consider the customers perspective and fears, for example: “It’s too expensive!”, “Will I really see cost savings?”, “Just the thought of talking about it sends me into a cold sweat!” “I don’t want to give up control!” “The M.D. wants us to do our own!”

These are some of the comments that actually make me and my team cringe and have cropped up in our exploratory discussions over the years we’ve been promoting the argument for print outsourcing.

Come on, I bet you already do some form of outsourcing; take the domestic situation, maybe you outsource the ironing, or you have some domestic help with the cleaning all with the aim of saving YOU TIME. This is called domestic outsourcing. You are entrusting a service provider to deliver a specific service to suit your needs. So what’s the difference?

Whether to print in-house or not is an important decision for a lot of businesses.

But the real issue is the true cost of printing in-house?

When I refer to true cost I mean the £’s, time, the invisibles which a business can’t really quantify.

Big printer/copier manufacturers have spent vast amounts on promoting to businesses that printing in-house is cheap, fast and more efficient however, this is rarely the case. Printer manufacturers rely on us mere mortals to purchase again and again.

After the initial investment in your chosen printers or MFD’s (multi-functional devices), what about everything else?

Paper, ink/toner, maintenance, drums, fusers, repairs, power and the biggest cost on a company’s bottom line TIME.

Yes, time it takes to evaluate, source and buy or lease your print devices.

Then you’ll need the ancillary equipment, if you’re going to be printing and despatching your invoices in-house then you will need mailing equipment and so the list goes on. Oh, by the way, don’t forget about the training and the personnel required in-house to operate the machinery, then, what happens if he, she/they leave!

Printers and associated equipment bought or leased are often oversold in other words, are of a very high specification and way in excess of the requirement of the company’s needs.

So many times I have seen customers stuck with equipment that is either under used because they have been oversold or not configured or designed for the tasks required by the company allied to that a contract that states in order for them to have the kit at an attractive rate they need to lease hire for something like 5 years+!

Outsourcing by now is looking a very attractive option for the business owner surely?

Outsourcing Print is a viable and cost effective proposition for many businesses.

Big companies are tempted to look at the large manufacturers to provide “managed print services“; in which the vendor takes control of the customer’s production of corporate, office and marketing documents typically owning the machines, providing training on how to use them, maintenance and most likely take a per page or click charge.

In-house printing comes with a pretty hefty price tag when the above are factored in to the equation and then there is the lease hire agreement and the commitment the company then has to make to the vendor to ensure he hits the click rate/nos of pages printed monthly, heaven forbid if he doesn’t!

Some businesses are too small for managed print services to be able to offer competitive pricing but the reality is there are many print management companies who will provide an excellent service at a fair price.

Coupled with the fact that we take the headache away by sourcing printed matter, material, consumables and thus streamline printing costs with ruthless efficiency making it a better proposition to outsource to an independent print manager than purchasing and running the equipment in-house.

One final thought on the above, independent means just that; as a print management company we are independent we aim to deliver a managed print service or print solution and are driven by the customers needs and wants.

Call us for an informal chat and with no obligation and see if what we can do for you!

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Print and mail service. What to look out for in a print and mail services company.

print and mail service

Many companies manage a steady stream of mail including marketing letters, bills, promotional items you name it, none of us are immune from receiving them!

But processing, printing, folding and sending these items is a costly and time consuming exercise. Factor in higher UK postage prices which came into force in April 2013 with a standard first class stamp for letters weighing up to 100g now at 60p and a second class stamp at 50p making it even more costly for companies to stay in touch with their customers.

The personnel involved in these processes would be better served in being re-deployed into other business activities which are revenue orientated.

Optimising the skills of a print and mail services company will improve and manage your paper flow more efficiently and ensure that the envelopes actually reach either the consumer or the customer.

In the present economic climate, this is one area companies should be evaluating to look at reducing their print and mailing costs by working with a managed outsource print provider.

Despite growth in paperless solutions, companies still require a reliable way of ensuring that their critical documents reach their intended destination! Using a managed service provider, organisations are likely to reduce the hidden costs associated with actually processing an invoice or statement.

Big postage cost savings can be made using DSA (downstream access) rather than the  traditional route of the Royal Mail these savings can make a huge difference to companies who rely on a steady stream of invoices, statements and marketing material being posted out each month.

A Print and Mail services provider has the technological resources, investment in mailing kit, hi-speed printers and the technology infrastructure in place to manage volume mailings.

Coupled with account management your print and mail service now becomes a manageable and structured process with the print and mail of invoices and statements at month end or the posting of a promotional mailing campaign designed at attracting new customers.

The process is organised, planned and represents effective management of a companies resources and time.

Quite simply an organisation can spend a lot of effort trying to keep up with the demand with requests for copy documents or marketing information if they do not make use of an established managed print and mail service provider.

By outsourcing, the company can transfer these chores to an organisation that is expert in delivering mailings every day.

A managed print and mail service will in the long run ensure your paper flow is manageable, timely, effective and delivered to the right person at a cost that you will find surprisingly inexpensive! print and mail service

For more information or to get a quote click here

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Outsourcing Print Services. How To Manage the Process of Outsourcing Print?

 

Man worrying about print outsourcing

 

How to manage the process of outsourcing print?

Outsourcing whether it is printing, payroll printing or invoice processing, or outsourcing an entire department is about how a company manages the entire process of a particular business function that is or has become a costly, inefficient and time-consuming process to manage in-house.

A truer definition of what is now commonly referred to as BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) is the contracting of a specific task such as payroll or billing to a third party provider (referred to as back office outsourcing) BPO is often implemented as a cost saving measure for tasks that a company requires but is now finding onerous and time consuming to manage in-house.

It’s hardly rocket science but nonetheless companies particularly the SME scratch their heads and ponder whether its worth considering because outsourcing any process has connotations such as “It’ll surely end up costing more, you don’t really save money, please don’t tell me its all about non core business” and one our favourites, “I don’t have time!”

There are inherent risks associated with print outsourcing for example “

Outsourcing Print. How to manage the process of outsourcing print?

Outsourcing Print. How to manage the process of outsourcing print?

Who or what company do you choose to manage this process?

How do you find a print management company to facilitate the implementation?

And here’s the real kicker, after you’ve done the research, irrespective of the companies’ on your selection list; and the various case studies of the customers they supply which reads something along the lines of the top 10 of the Fortune 500;  you may choose to do a credit check to ensure that the balance sheet looks healthy, after all, you don’t want to be going through this pain again in another year. Site visits are a must to ensure service provision.

You will, and I am assuming at this juncture, have eliminated a number of wannabee’s; end up with list of say 2 maybe 3 potential print suppliers that you believe understand your future requirements and are actually listening to you not selling what they think you should have!

Will you be able to entrust the chosen one, “the print management company” with managing the process for you?

The answer is Yes, you can!

When you decide to outsource a business function the risk can be minimised by ensuring you select the right partner and I use this term because it has to be a relationship, one that works two ways, it’s not an association; nor is it just the company we happen to use to do our billing, payroll or whatever print function you are outsourcing, it must be a relationship designed to aid your business which translates onto your bottom line.

So how do you achieve this?

Having a strategy that involves the relevant departments employees and company owners. It’s the people involved in the processes who know what the drawbacks or the inefficiencies are in the department currently.

A check list should include some of the following:-

What process/processes are you considering outsourcing?

What selection process/mechanism are you going to use to find such a company?

Who is going to be responsible for managing this task of selection?

What criteria of selection should be used to disseminate the good from the bad?

Please don’t make this solely size of turnover or accreditation driven; there are just as many small and large print management companies doing just a good and bad job of providing services to the end user. If after an initial discussion a potential print supplier can satisfactorily demonstrate quality policy and procedures that are integral to you don’t rule them out!

How do I evaluate the service provisions on offer? This might be what are you asking the incumbent supplier to do for you?

What will my decision making criteria be based upon? We urge caution here as a decision should never be price driven in our experience this has always been to the detriment of the company seeking to outsource and you will end up by shooting yourself in the foot.

Partnering with a company who does it “cheaply” implies that they don’t  have the infrastructure to follow through which means they won’t or can’t deliver what you really want or have asked for!

Finally has a budget been set for the process OR what cost savings might we be looking to achieve?

How many companies over the years have  we visited who don’t know what it costs to process, print and send documents out of the building in which they reside or know what their print spend truly is?

Determining from the outset why you want to outsource will drive your strategy, will empower company owners and employees to see tangible benefits which will ultimately translate into cost reduction and improved cash retention for the business.

Requesting a print audit is the first step along this dusty path, it will cost you nothing and will give you a good indication as to how you manage your print spend.

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Can We Really Have a Paperless Office?

desk full of paper

Look at your desk and what do you see?

You’ve likely got a pile of papers waiting to be filed, responded to, to be actioned and irrespective of how organised you are and what technology you use to streamline your document flow your organisation will be managing a steady stream of paper.

Twenty years ago when I began in the print industry selling”electronic printing services” or print and mailing services, my Manager said to me ‘of course we might only have ten possibly fifteen years of using paper or a need for our services‘, in other words, paper will be dead, defunct no longer needed!

Paper less offices would be a reality.

There is a misconception that by removing paper from the office will make for a more sustainable and productive office!

There is a misconception that by removing paper from the office will make for a more sustainable and productive office!

I shuddered at the thought and I can recall that conversation well because what actually went through my mind at that given moment was ” yikes, a loo without paper, how will that work then, meaning what medium could possibly replace paper let alone toilet paper?”

I am relieved to say that paper is still being used in vast quantities daily although the volume has declined unquestionably over the last decade. Paper is used in some shape or form everyday and has a profound impact on our lives it’s a commodity I suspect that we take for granted.

I know some of you will be screaming what about the damage it’s having on the environment and the trees that are being cut down…daily; I should like to proffer the following facts:

  • 94.4% of paper comes from Europe
  • Since 1950 forests in western europe have increased by 30%
  • In Europe the forest area is increasing in size at a rate of 1.5million football pitches per year

(Courtesy of www.twosides.info)

Back in October 2005, Bill Gates Head of Microsoft said we are on the verge of a paperless office with increasing electronic communication and the convenience of web based cloud solutions and an increasing awareness of the environment has led many companies to print less and e-mail more!

But has it?

I am confronted on my visits to customers offices with mountains of paper on desks! Often with the polite excuse “sorry, I’ll just make some space for you”. Why is it there is still an inextricable paper trail?

Don’t get me wrong part of our services is print and mailing that is the cornerstone of our business and we are proud of the way we have provided excellent value for money paper based solutions for many companies over the years.

I don’t wish to see paper go in any shape or form we must support our printing industry in the UK and I am very definitely in the camp that believes paper and electronic can co-exist.

e-billing...Electronic communication and the energy that drives our ever increasing network of servers necessary to hold our data is having a significant impact on the UK’s overall carbon footprint.

Whilst electronic storage of documents and e-communications are universally viewed as being efficient, effective and manageable, it is not necessarily sustainable. In the UK it has been suggested that within the next 10 years PC’s and servers could well consume 50% of the UK’s energy requirements which is quite a staggering thought given the costs associated with importing our energy needs.

The big companies are perpetuating paperless billing citing its “environmentally friendly” because less paper means less recycling. Recently Martyn Eustace, Director at two sides wrote a compelling letter to the CEO at Google Inc. stating the organisation’s concern regarding google’s campaign to ‘go paperless in 2013’ its compelling reading particularly in light of how hard the industry has and is continuing to work to eradicate the myths associated with the print industry which include the destruction of rain forests, making paper is bad for the environment and my favourite, that print and paper is a wasteful product.

In reality, approximately 60% of consumers leave a PC on in the home and will be printing off information electronically sent for reading and filing so although a company may have succeeded in moving the consumer to a paperless process in actual fact the cost has been removed from the organisation and has been placed squarely on the shoulders of the likes of you and me.

I would counter that the cost per head for printing at home probably far outweighs the printing and mailing of a document produced centrally!

Paper is renewable, sustainable and is vital for the well being of the print and paper industry, a world without paper, shudder at the thought.

Whilst for some the utopian ideal is a paper free office let me leave you with this thought, a digital image of your son or daughter holding the award or cup they won is but a fleeting moment but a photo captures the essence of that moment, it can evoke a feeling of sheer joy and emotion because it lives on forever in your memory!

What do you think? Are you in favour of a paperless office or do you believe that paper still has a very important part to  play in our offices? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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What is Print Management?

print management

What is print management?

 

We wanted to write an article about print management because it can mean different things to different people.

When I am asked what my line of work is or what I do for a living invariably I find myself answering: “actually I work for a print management company”.

My answer depending on whom I’m speaking with and where I am, business function or cocktail party is equally met with a bewildered expression! As the subject quickly moves onto the state of the economy or do you have kids?

In reality it is a mixture of many diciplines such as procurement, storage, stock control and distribution of printed material to provide cost savings whilst delivering a managed print solution.

Long winded isn’t it?

Print management is about managing the purchasing.

Many companies are deluged with paper even in this electronic age. We are over printing, over stocking, over ordering print items again and again yet in reality some 80%+ of UK businesses don’t know what their print is actually costing them.

With proven savings potentially in excess of 30% why are companies not beating down a path to the doors of print managers in droves!

Print is such a diverse product it covers anything from a business card to a printed USB stick, mouse mat, cardboard boxes through to the supply of office furniture/equipment to web design, e-commerce and e-marketing such is the diversification of a print manager’s tool box.

Invariably print is purchased by many people within an organisation and therefore the true cost of print is often absorbed into different cost centres.

Print is generally perceived as a necessary evil rather than a business process that can or should be improved. Companies define print as business cards, letter-headings and the company brochures, it is a lot more.

It is an area of a business that should be outsourced but often it is overlooked because companies do not have either the time, the expertise and sometimes the inclination to carry out this exercise.

In reality print for most organisations falls into the ownerless category and ordering daily and discreetly in company departments is a common occurrence; with multiple suppliers, inconsistent quality and often shortfalls in critical printing such as a company’s transactional documents.

Print management

Print management is about managing the purchasing, finding solutions to problems that customers didn’t know they had and reducing the paper-flow.

Which is where a print management company comes in! A Print Manager’s business is Print Management that is what we do! Which means we specialise in sourcing and providing bespoke print solutions and printed matter for the end user.

Your core business is what IT IS YOU DO OR WHATEVER SERVICE YOU PROVIDE so why get involved in print when a print manager can do it for you saving you time and money!

Most businesses will benefit from some form of managed print solutions because they don’t possess the knowledge, the time to develop the internal infrastructure to physically manage the purchasing, lack resources and the supplier base that a print manager will have developed and cultivated through many years of trading.

4 Things a Print Manager will do to assist a company’s need to centralise print purchasing:

1. Analyse and carry out a print audit of all printed items used by the company

2. Understand the paper flow i.e. who orders what, when and why, how is the product used

3. Review the supplier base to ascertain who and how many with a view to providing a more stream-lined and sustainable approach to managing print

4. A detailed proposal which will provide an effective, more streamlined process which in turn will show a reduction in total print spend

Top Tips to assist companies with print outsourcing:

1. Engage with a proven print management company that can bring the expertise you are looking for specifically whether it is print management, payroll or e-billing.

2. Identify the key personnel internally who will run the process; who will push compliance and conformity

3. Identify key areas of spend (this will have been hi-lighted during a print audit by the print manager) and this should be across all departments, payroll, marketing, credit/billing all of which can have large spends

Print management

Print management relieves you of having to do the print buying. A print manager will seek, search and recommend the best solutions for you.

4. Keep any design/creativity spend separate from print i.e. if you work with a design agency who are a separate entity and who have a completely different skill set required by your company

5. The business needs to be ready to face change management, there will undoubtedly be some internal resistance to outsourcing print by being transparent and open will cause less confusion and resistance from employees

6. If the costs regarding the current print spend are unquantifiable then don’t be overly concerned; the Print Manager will start to create relevant management information on stock, print type and spend.

The print manager will be responsible for giving you up to the minute information on print spend and within 3-6 months you will have a bank of data to work from to help you set a more concrete print budget for the next 6 months.

What do you think? How are you managing your print costs? Do you know how much your organisation spends on print each year?

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Digital Print Management – New Website

The new Digital Print Management website went live in May 2011.

Whilst the corporate logo and colours remain the same the new site is designed to be informative and thought provoking for visitors by helping them understand the maze that is print outsourcing and by removing the myth that outsourcing can be costly, that it is flexible and will save time!

Short Run Brochure Printing?

Brochures printing short run

“Can you print just 5 brochures, leaflets, well, in fact, 5 of anything?”

We are often asked.

The answer is yes, we can.

If you need good quality digital print with fast turn around times look no further.

Maybe you only want a handful of personalised leaflets because you are trying to win a contract? Or simply a marketing leaflet that is designed with only a dozen customers in mind?

Digital Print Management can print it for you and we don’t make it difficult or expensive to do!

A finished job in a matter of hours.

The most valuable thing is not having to chase around looking for a short run printer. We save you time and MONEY!

From hi-res PDF artwork, we can produce catalogues, booklets, leaflets, manuals, direct mail, newsletters, promotions…. all produced in short-run quantities in digital 4 colours and on-demand and at a fraction of the price more traditional methods cost.

How good is that?

Why not find out…contact us and try us out!

Better still look up our Virtual Stationery Cupboard (coming soon) and see how you can get the most out of our online print services highly personalised and individual marketing documents anytime, any day and anywhere!

Print Management Blog

There has to be a first blog post when launching a new site, and this is it.

useful tools managing print

We’ll keep it short and sweet for the moment, whilst the post it notes are stacking, the content plan is coming together and we’re looking forward to building our collection.

If you happen to pass by and leave a message, it will make our day.