Three questions print buyers must use to challenge process and prevent 30-address syndrome

Can you imagine writing the same address over 30 times?

Wouldn’t it be a complete waste of your time? Aren’t there are so many better things you could be doing?

Incredibly, this amount of repetition still exists within businesses. I recently visited a printing company. They had carried out a review of their processes. And, yes, they found out that they were rewriting addresses up to 30 times.

Everyone was amazed by these results. No one had realised just how much duplication was being carried out.

Make sure you don't enter more information than you need to - challenge proceses

Make sure you don’t enter more information than you need to – challenge proceses

It would be easy to laugh at what this company was doing

However, all businesses would be wise to check that they have no similar horror stories.

It is easy for anyone to carry on doing things the same old way. New processes get added on and, before you know it, you have the equivalent of a 30-address process in your company.

That’s why print buyers always need to challenge processes

Buyers who challenge process will discover that they have better control over their projects. They may also find that they have better control over their time. They will end up achieving more, both in their jobs and personally.

Buyers that do not challenge process will find it difficult to manage the same level of achievement. They will be bogged down in time wasting activities. They will struggle to control both their projects and their time.

Here are three areas where you can really benefit from challenging process.

The order process

The ordering process can be one of the most time wasting activities for a busy buyer. Often, there is a complicated approval process to go through. Then the purchase order has to be raised. Then the purchase order has to be approved.  Then the purchase order can be issued.

During this sequence of events it can be surprising how many times information has to be re-recorded.

It is well worth any buyer’s time looking at this sequence of events. Is there more information that can be copied electronically? Is there a more automated way of achieving budget approval?

However, ordering it is not the only process where it can be easy to make things more efficient.

Delivering files

Delivering files can also be full of time-consuming processes. I have seen some companies waste far too much time on pointless rechecking. I have seen other companies where the lack of checking is scary.

If a large amount of files are involved, I would recommend using a system such as Insight or Delano. Systems like this are hosted by the printer. It allows instant checking of files and upload when convenient to both sides. It also allows everyone at the buyer’s company to carry out checks whenever they need.

There is one other area where it is worthwhile challenging process.

Reporting

I used to be involved in the creation of many financial reports about print at a previous company. When I inherited this task, it was a very manual and time-consuming process.

During my time in the job, I managed to automate things a lot more. One of my key improvements was to ask suppliers and other internal contacts to supply information formatted in the way that I needed. This allowed me to populate spreadsheet automatically.

These days, a lot of print buying software can create all the reports you need automatically. You may also be able to ask suppliers to be able to raise information automatically. Of course, you should also check that the reporting you are asked to raise is actually necessary!

Here is an example of how I saved one company a lot of time

One client of mine used to create manual job sheets for every job they produced. It was a very time-consuming task.

When I was reviewing the reference line operations we made some changes to these job sheets:

  • we removed a lot of unnecessary information from the job sheets
  • we created a computer template for the job sheets
  • the job sheets were populated automatically from information that has already been recorded

The buyers were very grateful for these changes. However, at the beginning of the process some people were not convinced that the system could be improved. This is a very common objection.

What happens if I can’t see a better way of doing things?

Sometimes it’s hard to see ways of changing things if you’re very close to the processes. It’s always easier to suggest improvements for someone else’s process.

That’s why it can be very valuable to ask other people to comment on your processes. You might want to ask your colleagues or suppliers or even an external consultant.

Whether you choose to do it yourself or to ask for help, you need to get challenging your processes sooner rather than later.

Here are three action points to start improving your processes

  1. Pick one process to focus on
  2. Ask for feedback on this process from suppliers and colleagues
  3. Write-down the improvements you will make and create a timetable for when you will make them

You may not find you are writing the same address down 30 times. But you may be surprised at what you find. You may be surprised at the time that you can free up from this exercise.
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