While overall print and mail volumes are changing, businesses are running more print and mail jobs per day now than ever before. The reason why is simple: the runtimes are shorter. Instead of doing one large job for a client that lasts for eight hours, they are now producing eight or more separate smaller jobs that each run for an hour or less.

Shorter job runs often mean increased overall set up and changeover time. This also means the risk of introducing errors or compromising on quality is proportionally higher. Many of these businesses also operate in highly regulated environments, so “getting it wrong” can carry a massive financial penalty.

As print and mail operations are getting squeezed on the growing volume of short-run jobs, they are also facing a litany of environmental pressures: consolidation, cost of raw materials, new technology innovations and the cost and availability of labour. Suffice it to say, these businesses need a new competitive advantage, one that allows them to serve their existing and new clients while producing the same quality, reliable outputs.

Linking print to mail

Output management and workflow, printing, inserting and sorting are the key processes that connect printing and mailing operations. Historically, these functions were handled by different managers with individual supply networks and operating teams. They each performed distinct duties and responsibilities.

In this environment, it was typical for print operations to only focus on printing. Similarly, inserting operations focused on inserting and sorting on sorting. This separation between print, insert and sort meant that if one function was optimised, it wouldn’t necessarily benefit the others. Optimising print didn’t mean the output was optimised for insert and sort in tandem. Over time, this resulted in many inefficiencies and incongruities between different teams and each one ended up becoming an isolated island.

But, markets are changing at a rapid pace. Regulatory complexity is growing. New innovations are constantly being introduced to the marketplace. Long-term operators and single, long-running jobs have given way to less experienced operators who require more training. While clients are driving for reductions in turnaround times, multiple jobs with shorter run lengths can result in less net production per shift.

These industry pressures point to one thing: companies need to stop thinking about their print, mail and sorting functions as islands and start looking at the big picture. “Our clients find success when they leverage printing, inserting and sorting workflows together, from end-to-end, to achieve across-the-board process optimisation, lower costs and increase capabilities to serve their clients and acquire new ones,” said Kevin Marks, Vice President, Global Production Print at BlueCrest.

Adopting this holistic view enables a collective competitive advantage that better positions you to identify and eliminate inefficiencies and performance roadblocks across core functions. This will ultimately result in greater value and productivity for your business operations, while siloed competitors are stuck running in place.

Creating change

The largest print and mail operations struggle with the same basic questions and goals as the smaller ones. How do I deliver better results? How do I execute every job within a shift with accuracy and precision? How do I optimise performance across all processes and prevent silos? How do I ensure jobs run efficiently and provide proof of regulatory compliance within each phase while managing growing levels of complexity in my industry?

These are the things that can keep business leaders up at night. When you’re stuck in the traditional way of doing things, recognising that there is a cycle, let alone breaking out of it, can present an enormous challenge. “The cost of doing nothing, in other words failing to re-invest in your business, people, technology and workflow processes, is a recipe for your competitive position in the market to decrease, and for you to become less relevant to your clients,” said Eddy Edel, Vice President, Product Management, Inserting at BlueCrest.

That’s why it’s essential to partner with an end-to-end solutions provider that approaches problems with a broader point-of-view, drawing on global experiences to apply proven best practices to navigate through internal process roadblocks.

Integrating print, insert, sort, and software/IT teams will not always come naturally to a business that is accustomed to keeping them separate from each other. Therefore, collaborating with an outside partner is essential for success. Only companies with considerable experience across each and all of these functions can successfully identify and recommend solutions for creating a holistic, end-to-end structure that fully integrates print and mail manufacturing.

The complexity of clients’ needs grows exponentially every year – it’s survive or thrive. BlueCrest is here to help our clients thrive.

Investments in print communications need to work harder and smarter. BlueCrest is the only company that can provide solutions that address all phases in this process – prepare, print, insert and postal induction. And it’s because of the conversations we’ve had with clients all over the world that our teams have the expertise and experience to break down silos and provide solutions that are proven to turn your print and mail operations into your newest competitive advantage.

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