By Kemal Carr
There has been a great deal of discussion both from us at Madison Advisors and the industry in general around the pros and cons of in-house print and mail operations vs. outsourcing this function. Pushed by the ever-present need to reduce expenditures while retaining operational efficiencies, the success of an in-house operation ultimately depends on being able to compete with the value an outsourced operation brings. Too many times, in our experience, an in-house operation assumes they're doing well. Then they get the tap on the shoulder from upper management saying this department is too expensive, and its gone. It is gone because there was no concrete data to determine the value of the operation to use to push back. All that is visible to senior leadership are the costs.
To keep a sustainable in-house print/mail operation that meets or exceeds industry standards, you need firm data to prove that it is. That can only be achieved by having a baseline that gives your operation something to measure itself against. At Madison Advisors, we offer a Best Practices Assessment (BPA), a comprehensive study designed to examine best practices across the converging markets of high-volume output, print on demand (POD) and electronic delivery operations, including those of captive or internal document services operations and for-profit service providers. Throughout the BPA, a rigorous methodology designed to analyze critical aspects of production output processes and practices is executed to review:
During the assessment, we capture more than 700 data points to quantitatively rate an operation’s strategies, its processes and application of technology in support of the output objectives. Data collected from each on-site review and interview session is then aggregated as a set of confidential scorecards, each of which measures the quality of customer communications practices, document production capabilities and ancillary processes. Compilation of data across scorecards yields blinded, aggregated data, representing conditions as a set.
We then prepare a customized analysis of the operation’s key areas of strength and weakness to determine where it ranks above or below average. If it is within the industry standard norm and doing well, we generally recommend you keep doing it. If it is outside those norms, the report highlights strategic and tactical recommendations on how to improve, or logical alternatives.
When engaging outside assistance in this type of assessment, is important to work with a firm that has a thorough and tested understanding of today’s print and mail services market. Madison Advisors has benchmarked more than 100 print and mail operations, both in-house and print service providers, as it’s important to understand the differences, since developing this process in 2001 with great success for those who have participated in this process. It always surprises us that we still run across situations where operations struggle with taking the time to know how their operation stacks up against the competition, and how good their operation really is. We know from experience that it is worth the time because, if you get that tap on the shoulder because your company is deciding whether they want to outsource the work or stay in house (and we have seen this happen more than once), you have the data to show your value and you have a plan underway.
Madison Advisors conducts BPAs on an ongoing basis and updates the criteria frequently to reflect industry advancements. If you are ready to gain an objective insight into how your operations and practices compare to those of the industry at large and have that data and a plan to execute, take a look at our BPA process here. Then contact us for more information on how we can help ensure your print and mail organization is sustainable and is meeting—or exceeding—industry standards.
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