What Did You Learn from your Q2 Assessment?
Guest Post: Pat McGrew, McGrewGroup, Inc. and The Print University
We know that printers are busy, but back in the second quarter we offered some advice. The suggestion was to take a few steps back from your daily production and assess your business. To get the most from the project, we suggested that you talk with a subject matter expert (SME) to delve into the hardware and software you use to produce the print products and execute the services you sell. We suggested using SMEs because the print manufacturing business is complex!
You know your shop and the team members handling the sales, business administration, creative, prepress, production, and fulfillment – each has their own idea of the vision and goals of the business. These team members execute the business processes, but they develop biases over time that an assessment can uncover.
Acting on What You Learned
If you did a self-assessment, congratulations! That means you overcame the latent fear that emerges when the team realizes that an assessment looks deep to find the good, bad, and ugly business processes. You successfully navigated past the concerns to build a better future. You built a culture that embraces self-examination with the goal of building a better future.
What did you do after the assessment? We hope you analyzed the results to identify the friction points, unnecessary loops, and integration misses. A typical set of results might look like this:
- Every salesperson has a different relationship with the CSRs that support them, so there is no standard way to capture and verify job specifications. That results in extra hours of phone calls and emails that cause delays.
- Some salespeople are selling from old product sets leading to confusion during onboarding and extra work hours to resolve.
- The estimating program uses costs from two years ago that have never been updated, leading to lower than anticipated profits on some job.
- Members of the prepress team have direct contact with clients that CSRs are not aware of, resulting in execution of change requests that are never invoiced.
- The Print MIS has never been integrated with the back office causing information to be rekeyed for invoicing, sometimes with mistakes.
Your results may be different, but the takeaway is that most assessments uncover areas for improvement. Knowing the areas that need improvement isn’t enough, so how did you act on what you learned?
Many printers tell us that the hardest chasm to cross is the one between seeing a problem and building a plan to resolve it. Take small steps. Crawl. Walk. Run. They recommend getting the team leads together to brainstorm solutions. Some will be people and process oriented, where changing the order of how people execute a task, how they capture information, or how they interact between departments will lead to efficiencies. That is low-hanging fruit that yields quick results even as the changes are fine-tuned.
Issues that arise from how software tools are used, the age of software tools, or processes that need new software tools might take more planning and budgeting. How did you do on that process? If you missed your planning cycle at the start of the year, will you execute on software tool resolution for 2024?
We recommend that you work on your assessment at the start of the year, but it is not a one and done event. Plan on an update to your assessment and create a score card to track your process from quarter to quarter and year to year!
Pat McGrew helps companies perform better. As Managing Director for McGrewGroup, Inc., she promotes Best Practices for your Business using her 30+ years of experience as a software company owner, marketer, analyst, industry evangelist, and consultant to enable business growth. She assesses workflow and bizflow effectiveness, and develops strategies and triage engagements for products, services, and businesses. Pat covers print and customer communication channels for data-driven and static marketing, transaction, packaging, label, and commercial print with experience in offset, inkjet, and toner. An experienced professional speaker and facilitator, she is the author of 8 books, the editor of the Xplor EDBOK, a regular industry content contributor, host of #PrintSampleTV, and co-host of #ThePrintReport. She is co-proprietor of ThePrintUniversity.com, a new education initiative. Pat is certified as a Lifetime Master Electronic Document Professional by Xplor, as a Print Buyer for Variable Print by PCPI, and as a Color Management Professional (CMP), CMP Digital, and BrandQ Professional by IDEAlliance. Find Pat on Twitter as @PatMcGrew and on LinkedIn.
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