Chargeability vs. efficiency

I'm trying to get my head around how a printing company (my employer in particular) looks at and interprets productivity reports, and how they make decisions based on the information received from a data collection system/MIS. I'm also interested in finding out how much of this information is relevant to a banker when evaluation a company's solvency.

The company I work for uses an MIS called Wintrak. It seems very basic compared to some of the other MIS I've seen at other companies. Cost centers are either chargeable or non-chargeable. I was under the impression for a while that our COO wanted to see maximum chargeability, and we were told to adjust our production entries (in my case, press) so as to make it appear that most of our time was chargeable. This never seemed to make any sense, seeing as how they can't possibly charge every single hour we work to a customer!

Recently, I was told discreetly by the plant manager (who claims he'll deny this til the day he dies) to make my efficiencies look as good as possible. Only stay clocked into a job for a reasonable amount of time, and then go into maintenance or something similar. Doing this makes my chargeability go way down. It also seems like this could be disastrous to a company in the long run, since I'm still being paid to be there and the press is still using power, consumables, etc. And this could screw up the way a company estimates jobs as well, right?

I know every company has their own way of managing, but can anyone shed some light on this situation? What is more important to a business, chargeability or "efficiency"? Obviously the ideal situation would be have maximum chargeability and great efficiency, but that can't always happen. Especially not where I work :D

What do these numbers actually mean to a company's viability? What do banks care most about?

Any help would be much appreciated.


Registered Users
If your company uses the billable hours to a job to determine how to estimate jobs and you spend more time clocked into a job than you really spent on it. This will hurt you in the long run. The estimated cost for jobs will go up and you will possibly have less work coming in the door because your estimates are too high.

The goal of any business is to make money. With many shops cutting prices to get jobs. The best thing you can do to help out is to improve efficiencies, such as getting maintenance done faster, hanging plates more accurately so you have less time getting in register, etc. Every minute you save does add up, no matter how small it is. While running one job you could be getting ready for the next job so setup time is less, press down time is less, and your company can make more money.


Active member
That's a LIE !

That's a LIE !

Companies institute a 'data' collection system and then defeat the purpose of it by telling the employees what they want to 'see' in the data. So the data turns into a lie. You really (in an ideal world) want to use data to measure where you truly are, so you can determine what course corrections are needed to get where you want to be. Like keeping score at an athletic event..... there is lots of BS data that you can collect (RBI, assists, etc) but what really is important is the final score. Did we win or lose? Did we make a profit or not? Maybe a better analogy is GPS. Here is where i am, which direction should i be paddling? Harry Quadracci used to say that business is the best game to be in. And it is an interesting competition, to be sure........

But if you are not going to keep an accurate score, how can you improve your game?
That's pretty much what I thought, a lie. Whichever way we're told to work the numbers, towards chargeability or towards efficiency, will not be beneficial in the long run if they aren't reflecting what's actually happening.

So why would a company want to do this? What use does an accountant, GM, or other recipient of that data have if it's inaccurate? It must be something because that's exactly what they're asking of us.

Morning Flight

Well-known member
The goal of any business is to make money. With many shops cutting prices to get jobs, the best thing you can do to help out is to improve efficiencies, such as getting maintenance done faster, hanging plates more accurately so you have less time getting in register, etc. Every minute you save does add up, no matter how small it is.

"Big savings are little savings added up. Just as big profits are little profits added up." I totally agree with pcmodem's entire post. In essence, what your management is asking you to do is help them cook the books. Does that make the company more attractive to bankers? Probably, in the short term. Remember, those are still the same folks who happily approved liar's mortgages, with both eyes closed and holding their nose. Is it illegal? I'm no lawyer. Unethical? If your company bills jobs at inflated hourly rates - absolutely.

Follow pcmodem's advice, Colornumber9. Work as efficiently as you can to help both you and your company. Let management find their own way to get creative with the numbers.


Well-known member
We started a production program that was killing production. Employees were spending more time looking for their jobs, logging in and logging off. There are so many issues involved in printing that are not covered in the job. Find a box, tape it, insert product, go to UPS computer and print labels, have a quality inspection and move job to shipping area. On press find or mix ink, verify stock, Press cleanups if needed. The list goes on. What we found works the best is to find certain target jobs and make the employees log in and out of them. We normally target larger jobs that require substantial amounts of time in each department and when the job is done is look at the costing to see how we did.


company problem

company problem

dear, colornumber9 listen to pcmodem he's right about being as efficient as you can on your press and when your done with a job......your done.... if the problem is there is no next job waiting for you... staying on previous job so somebody can show a good productivity report to the bosses is a very bad idea it is the company's responsibility to keep you busy with jobs (more sales sales sales )so you stay busy running a press ......the more you run your press the more the company makes. if you arent running the press hopefully you are doing maintainance so you are ready for the next big round of work. hope this helps be the best pressman that you can be.... people will respect you for it
I appreciate the input from everybody.

My question was not so much about how I should be working. I like to think that while I'm working I am always as productive and efficient as I can be.

I'm more curious about finding out WHY a company would want the "paper productivity" tailored one way or another. What do they do with this information? How much of it, and which parts, are scrutinized the most? If I get finished with a job and have to wait for the next one, what benefit is there from charging the job longer? Vice versa, if a job is taking longer than planned, what benefit is there to making it appear that I've completed it within the estimated time frame if I'm still incurring overhead costs?

Obviously it would make the most sense to be entirely accurate on productivity, because as several of you have mentioned it's the only way to gauge where you're actually at. However, for those of us working in Oz or someplace similarly contrived, it would be helpful to understand what kind of business model is motivating these illogical (and often contradictory) instructions.

I'm positive it all comes down to money, I just don't quite understand how it works :(

Thanks again for your feedback.

Luc Talbot

New member
Someone just doesn't get it.

Someone just doesn't get it.

Dear colornumber9,

It's not the banks. They are interested in the cashflow and balance sheet.

Data collection is expensive (not only do you have to buy a MIS, but employee time is spent making entries and those pesky reports have to be read and analysed).
Companies make the investment because they believe that better decision making from better information will increase profits. Distorting the data is conterproductive - it leads to bad decisions that reduce profits. That's bad for the company.

So it's management. Someone "just doesn't get it" or has a private agenda. The ".. deny ... till the day he dies..." probably gives you a hint.


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