Print buyers: do you have a plan B?

It was just another routine dive – until his air supply failed

I have a friend who is a keen scuba diver.  His latest dive was nothing out of the ordinary:   it was the sort of dive that he had done many, many times before.

But one moment on this dive moment he was breathing air.  The next moment there was no oxygen coming from his diving tank.

My friend owes his life to the fact that he had a plan B

Print buyers need a disaster recovery plan

Print buyers: what will you do if this happens to your printer

What happens if there is a print problem?  What happens if there is a press failure at your printer?  What happens if there is a fire at your printer?  What happens if your printer goes out of business?

You better have a plan B

Are you are running direct mail campaigns for your company?   Is your company dependent on them for a steady stream of new customers?

Is your company attending an important trade show soon?  Are you are preparing the company sales brochures to a tight deadline?

Do your company’s customers look forward to a monthly company magazine?  Does the magazine drive sales?

Are you are producing books or magazines that are due to go on sale soon?  Does your company make good profit from these sales?

Are you producing the new season sales catalogue for your company?  Are the sales from the catalogue vital to your company’s success?

If anything goes wrong with the supply of these items your company may hit serious problems.

Scuba divers have to imagine everything that might go wrong

And the worst thing that can go wrong is that their air supply fails while they are at the bottom of their dive.  Scuba divers know that if their air supply fails they have to partner with their dive buddy and share one air supply.  Scuba divers have a disaster recovery plan and they know how to put it into practice.

Print buyers need a disaster recovery plan

If something goes wrong in the supply chain, a disaster recovery plan allows a plan B to spring efficiently into action.  As a result of this planning, the company’s activities are affected as little as possible.  The senior management of the company can relax because they know that their revenue streams and profits are protected, no matter what happens.

If a print buyer does not have a disaster recovery plan they risk suddenly having to rely on non-existent relationships to achieve vital company activities.  The print buyer risks not being in proper control of their supply chain.

A disaster recovery plan is vital for every print buyer.

How do you make a disaster recovery plan?

Disaster recovery plans rarely need to be complicated.  Often the plan can be as simple as a list of alternative suppliers with whom the buyer has good relations already.  These suppliers can be contacted in the event of a problem.

However, if a problem occurs on a more complex print operation there needs to be more careful planning.  How will you deal with supply problems, if you order your paper directly?  How will you quickly replicate data processing that is entrusted to a single supplier?   A disaster recovery plan needs to cover data, paper, postage, warehousing, delivery and a whole host of other issues.

Disaster recovery sounds complicated- surely I just contact a new printer if necessary?

Sometimes problems can be overcome simply by contacting a new supplier.  However, this only works for the simplest of print operations.  And, even for simple print operations, relationships with printers take time to build.  It is much easier if another printer has already been tested on other jobs.

Some jobs need more complex disaster recovery plans

Some companies have extremely critical print jobs to send out.  For instance, insurance companies must legally deliver the correct documentation to their customers within strict deadlines.  If a printer ceases operations for whatever reason, the insurance company needs to be able to carry on their print without any hiccups.  That is not the time to discover that the planned alternative printer has no capacity.

Some printers who deal with insurance work actually host alternative production sites.  These production sites are kept ready for disasters and can start producing within 24 hours or less.  The production sites are typically owned by a separate trading entity, so that production can transfer even if the original printer is unable to trade.  However, the production facilities come at a cost.

Having spare production sites is a level of disaster recovery that is un-necessary for most print buyers.  However there are certain steps that every print buyer should take.

Three disaster recovery steps that every print buyer should implement

  • Audit the importance of the print that you are producing for your company.  Which print items need a disaster recovery plan that can be implemented quickly?
  • Write down how you would implement alternative production if one of your suppliers was unable to produce work
  • Make sure that you have tried and tested replacement suppliers waiting in the wings and that you know how much work they could take on for you with no prior notice

Scuba divers don’t leave things to chance

Neither should print buyers.

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P.S. If this article has been useful to you, you will also find my training course on supplier management usefulClick here for more details

One Response to Print buyers: do you have a plan B?

  • I agree, but what happens if the buyer gets run over by a bus?! In addition to the points above, having defined and documented business processes managed through print procurement software with detailed audit trails, supplier and transaction data, artwork, data and collation instructions, detailed job specifications, deliveries, service level info all in one place should be another critical part of the continuity planning. If the worst happens you don’t have to find passwords to computers, route through hundreds of emails, try to locate the right version of a spreadsheet or phone suppliers to try to recall various verbal instructions.

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