In-Plants Need Love Too


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In-Plants Need Love Too
Print in the eye of the buyer (Episode 3)

By Noel Ward, Editor@Large

Back in in the bad old days before electronic job submission I used to dive into the basement of the company where I worked to submit or retrieve jobs at the in-plant print shop. Back then it was pretty obvious what the shop could and couldn’t do. There were a couple of big Kodak monochrome copiers, a two-color offset press, and a smaller monochrome copier. There might have been a color printer. When all were running modern OSHA rules would have required hearing protectors. The place couldn’t run my big jobs but a printer not far away could, and the in-plant was comfortable in their busy niche serving the needs of a semi-prestigious consulting company. But that was then.

This is now: in-plants are under pressure from corporate management to do more with less even as a host of local commercial print providers are chasing the very business that keeps the in-plant alive. As compelling as new print technology may be, much of it comes with price tags that can make it hard for in-plants to keep up.

Canon, with customers in commercial and in-plant markets alike, recently took a look at print buyers using in-plants to determine how users perceive these vital shops and to learn about the challenges faced by both print buyers and in-plant managers. I was not involved with the research conducted on Canon’s behalf by NAPCO Research but was interested in learning what print buyers are thinking about in-plants in today’s volatile print industry. You can do the same by downloading the new white paper here.

Download the entire series for free here.

The good news from the latest research is that in-plants are still an important resource for print buyers but some may lack tools that can help them add value for the print buyers with whom they work. And adding value is a key way of staying relevant in an ever-changing business environment. Let’s take a quick look at five key takeaways from the study.

The Pros in the Room
The first thing I noticed was no surprise: Most of the people sending work to in-plants are print professionals who have been buying print for up to 20 years or more. The in-plant shops they rely on produce or support a wide range of applications and the shop managers often recommend outside print providers for some jobs. However, I noticed that most or all of the work respondents mentioned can be done on Canon equipment or enabled by Canon software. This means Canon technology can help in-plants do more for print buyers and increase the value offered while reducing the costs associated with sending jobs out.

Why customers go outside
Next up was the perennial in-plant issue of outsourcing—sending work out that can’t readily be done internally. To be sure, there are many jobs that cannot be handled in typical in-plant operations, but respondents cited quality and customer service as two key reasons they may look to other sources for print jobs. The first concern, quality, is partly having the right equipment or the right processes. For example, this could include a digital press with a mix of built-in finishing options. The second issue, improving customer service is a mix of training and awareness of customer needs. While in-plants are usually very good at supporting corporate branding concerns and boilerplate formatting, internal customers may also have to support outside clients’ requirements. This could be the look and feel of a document or a matter of timing and flexibility. In each case, having the right technology can make all the difference, as can training that can enhance customer service.

Beneath the stated reasons for outsourcing may be dissatisfaction with in-plant performance. These can highlight areas where in-plants need improvement. In-plants aren’t alone here. The same is true for every commercial printer as well, because no shop is perfect all the time. For in-plant managers, this highlights the need to pay attention to all the details of every job and to have consistent support from a partner who can provide the processes, technology and guidance needed to enhance customer experiences from job submission through delivery.

G7®: Making great color easier
Being print professionals, print buyers are aware of and often specify G7 certification in which the processes and equipment being used will help ensure predictable and consistent color. Knowing this, some in-plant managers may outsource color critical work based on client requests/demands. Instead, they could up their game by acquiring and operating Canon products that are G7 certified. Canon training helps equipment operators know how to take full advantage of G7 calibration. Take a look at some videos Canon produced last year to support G7 training;

Keeping The Print Quality High Part One - Bringing The Press Up To Color

Keeping The Print Quality High Part Three - Changing Colors, Quickly & Efficiently

Because G7 certification is a capability print buyers often look for, certification adds to an in-plant’s credibility and can often be used to attract outside work (insourcing) where critical color is required.

Opportunity Beyond Print
No print buyer orders a stack of printed paper: Nearly everyone wants special paper, color management, finishing and binding, and more. For an in-plant manager this is all opportunity. The research indicates print buyers are eager to learn about the options available, yet often turn to sources other than their in-plant for the information they seek. While some outside providers may be considered more knowledgeable, an in-plant thought to lack a needed capability can be overlooked as a knowledge resource even leave a shop unable to convert a request into an order. Addressing such needs, Canon technology not only provides many sought-after capabilities but can provide in-plant operations with needed knowledge and expertise through webinars, lunch-and-learn sessions, customized training, and more.

Seize the moment
Download the white paper and be sure to pay attention to the five points above as you review the data. Many in-plants are well positioned to be more and do more and can take a proactive stance in working with internal customers and with corporate management to claim their rightful place in the market. Can an in-plant take on every job that comes in the door? Maybe not. But every in-plant can become a more important part of the organization it serves by leveraging the tools and partnerships provided by equipment and software vendors.
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