How a QR matrix can save print buyers over an hour a day

Do you ever assemble flatpack furniture?  I don’t know about you, but I often struggle to

work out what piece goes where.  Thank goodness that they have standard bolts and screws.  Can you imagine the confusion if each one was different?

But often every print quote we receive is slightly different.  Making them all the same can save the print buyer a lot of time.  And that’s where the QR matrix comes in.

What is a QR matrix?

Print buyers should always use spreadsheets to make sure they analyse their print prices efficiently

Print buyers should always use spreadsheets to make sure they analyse their print prices efficiently

A QR matrix stands for quote response matrix.  It is given to a printer when they quote on jobs.  It means that they will supply pricing to print buyers in a standard format.  The matrix should be supplied as a spreadsheet for printers to fill in.

Print buyers who use QR matrices remain in control of their buying.  They know that they are using an efficient bidding system.  And that they won’t suffer from pricing misunderstandings with suppliers.  And, as a result, they achieve more.

Print buyers who don’t use QR matrices don’t achieve the same results.  This is because they often receive print quotes that aren’t like for like.  So there are often misunderstandings about price.  These buyers aren’t in control of their buying.

QR matrices ensure that you retain this control.  Here are three reasons why:

QR matrices save time

I used to spend hours analysing quotes.  A lot of this time was because I needed to copy my prices onto a spreadsheet.  This meant that I could compare them side by side.  But not all printers sent the prices back in a like for like format.  So I had to spend time making the like for like.  And slowly typing in every price took ages.  Plus, of course, there was always the danger that would make errors with my typing.

But now I no longer type prices.  I can do a quick copy and paste from the QR matrix to a master spreadsheet.  On a busy day, that can save me an hour.  And my prices are all quickly side by side, in the same format.  And that means I can start doing some pretty powerful price analysis.

QR matrices allow easy price analysis

Once all my print prices are in the same spreadsheet, it is easy for me to ask lots of questions.  One quick formula will quickly tell me the lowest price.  But the real power is on more complicated projects.

What happens if you are pricing many different runs?  And what happens if the lowest base price does not have the lowest run on price?  Now it is easy to run different scenarios.  You can quickly work out who is the most cost effective print company for different projections.

And you can easily work out the extra cost per project for using a preferred supplier if they are not the lowest price option.

To get these results you no longer have to set up lots of complicated data on a spreadsheet.  The QR matrix makes sure that it is all there in the right format.  And there is another reason why this is so efficient.

QR matrices ensure all print quotes are like for like

I used to receive print quotes in lots of different formats.  Some included everything I wanted in one price.  And others had split out lots of extra prices.  This meant I had to add them all up to create a like for like price.  And I had to hope that I hadn’t missed any extra costs.  They were usually cunningly hidden away at the end of the quote.

The QR matrix gets rid of all this extra work.  Printers are forced to supply all their pricing in a standard format.  However, in order to achieve this, you need to remember one thing.

Remember that printers need exact instructions on how to complete QR matrices

It is surprising how many printers find it difficult to fill in a spreadsheet.  You need to make it easy for them.  Typically, you should colour the cells that the printer is to fill in.  You should also make it clear that they must not fill in any other cells.  Or alter the spreadsheet in any other way.

But once you have your print companies trained, you’ll want to use QR matrices all the time.  And you’ll be impressed at the results they bring you.

Here’s how a QR matrix saved me days of time

I used a QR matrix when I was running a big tender for magazines.  Every printer quoting had to provide a breakdown of all the different sections and finishing.  They had to provide a make ready and a run-on price.

Because this information was supplied in a standard format I could analyse it very quickly.  I had set up a spreadsheet which had the specification for every magazine.  So the spreadsheet created a cost from every printer for each magazine.  Within one hour of receiving all the bids I knew the lowest available price for every magazine.  And I knew the premium to pay for using a limited amount of suppliers.  And the premium for my preferred suppliers.

This result was down to the use of a QR matrix.  It was extremely useful on such a complicated project.

But isn’t the QR matrix just for big print projects?

I have been surprised at how much time can be saved even on small projects.  In fact it’s worth using for anything more than a comparison of prices for a simple project.  As soon as any extra options are involved on job you will save time with a QR matrix.

Here are the three steps you should take to get going with a QR matrix.

  1. Think about any price analysis you want to do once you have received prices.  Always build your final spreadsheet first
  2. Build a QR matrix from which you can paste prices straight in to the final analysis spreadsheet
  3. Make sure you provide precise instructions for filling the QR matrix in.  Ask someone to make sure they understand your instructions

You’ll wonder how you managed without QR matrices

The standardisation of quotes from your printers will definitely make your life a lot easier.

Now I just wish that there was a way to make life easier when I’m assembling flatpack furniture!
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