Why print buyers should think like cyclists (and work late less often)

I was delighted when Team GB did so well at the Olympics.  It seems that British cycling has really entered a golden period.

But this success hasn’t come by chance.  It has happened because the team have been constantly looking at how they do things.  They have been regularly challenging what they do and how they do it.  This is what has created their success.

Print buyers can improve their results by thinking like Olympic cyclists

Print buyers should think like Olympic cyclists. Find out how this will help them in this article

Print buyers who challenge process will create better supplier partnerships.  They’ll get rid of all the inefficiencies that make their relationships with printers frustrating.  They’ll be in control of their projects.  And they’ll be able to achieve more during their day (and work late less).

Print buyers who don’t challenge process will carry on with their late nights.  They’ll struggle to achieve what they need to because they’ll be using slow, inefficient methods.  So they won’t have the same control over projects.  Their supplier relationships will be full of arguments and annoyances.

So here are three ways to improve process and get rid of these problems.

Use templates

Templates are a great way to standardise documents and make sure that nothing important is omitted.  This system works really well for price requests, purchase orders, internal communications and contract documents.  You could even have a document template library for everyone at your company to use.

I am famous for forgetting to tell suppliers how many items I want when I issue a price request.  So now I have a quote request matrix that gets rid of all those un-necessary phone calls and e-mails.

But using templates for price requests can mean that you are dealing with too many individual prices.  There’s a way round this.

Use matrices

If you order a lot of similar items a price matrix can be a very useful way of getting instant pricing.  This need not be an expensive solution.  Even a rough and ready spreadsheet can manage this easily.  It can even analyse different price sheets and recommend the correct printer according to the print run.

This method ensures that you can get rid of much of the regular price requests that you may need to deal with.  It also allows you to deal with sudden changes in quantity.

But you can make things even more efficient.

Use a web2print system

A web2print system can bring efficiencies to many areas of print buying.  These include order administration, order analysis, stock management, quoting and stock management.  I’ll be looking at web2print in more detail in a future article.

The investment in web2print need not be high.  There are several systems that are licensed as software as a service.  This means that you pay for exactly what you need.

However, you need to be aware of one thing.

Make sure that you processes work with current company systems

It is essential that everyone in your company is aware of what you are doing and is happy about how it will work.  A price matrix spreadsheet will not have any effect on other peoples’ systems.  But if you start issuing purchase orders through a web2print system you need to be sure that the accounts department is happy with this.

For some print buyers that is the least of the issues involved.  For them, there is a much deeper problem.

Don’t these processes take out the skill from buying?

This is not the case at all.  Good processes mean that a buyer spends less time on order processing and other clerical duties.  This means that they can spend more time on strategic print buying issues.  Isn’t that what print buying is all about?

Here are three action points to help you improve your current systems

  1. Set out your current processes
  2. Ask print suppliers how they feel you could work more efficiently
  3. Ask for feedback from other members of your company’s staff

Soon you’ll be just like the British Olympic cyclists

You’ll be getting gold medal results.

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