Public sector printing: Beyond ink and paper

There have always been strategies for cost reduction techniques but there has never been greater government commitment to look at ways of reducing cost whilst at the same time enhancing the service offering. Shared services and consortium purchasing cost reduction techniques can involve standardisation of production, simplification and variety reduction and improvement in design to help with efficiency – all coupled with overhead and inventory control. All of this needs to be achieved without any drop in essential quality and an eye to what the product is required to achieve.
   
Innovation
A good print management company will analyse the end user’s requirement, understand the process model and the strategic needs of the service. Armed with this knowledge they will be able to advise on methodology, quality, quantity and order frequency. Their expertise can often be seen in the proposals of new or innovative products, designed to reduce costs whilst at the same time ensuring an improved service. It must not be forgotten that cost reduction techniques should encompass not just the end product but every process involved with the purchase.

Environmental impact
There are a lot of myths surrounding the use of paper, trees and the environment, but actually European forests have grown by over 30 per cent since 1950 and are increasing by 1.5 million football pitches every year.
   
The paper industry has a number of respected certification schemes ensuring the paper used has come from a sustainable forest source. There are some 30 schemes in existence, but the two main auditable certifications that have emerged are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)®, and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)®. Other areas that may contribute to environmental impact are transport and geographical location to the delivery point. IPIA members strive to organise production in the same locality; matching product needs, delivery periods and price points with close proximity to the end user wherever possible. The environmental and social benefits are obvious and bring something back to the end user community.
   
There are many other approaches to limiting any environmental impact such as the use of vegetable inks, recycling of cleaning solvents and paper waste as well as offsetting any remaining carbon emission. Factories are constantly striving to improve their environmental credentials.
   
More and more, customers are demanding a cross-media approach whereby paper products link closely with digital communication methods such as email, SMS and social media. This approach can help to reduce environmental impact whilst at the same time increasing the efficiency of the process.

General advice
When embarking on a major printing project the most important element is to arrive at a specification that is accurate, encompasses the needs of the project, and is clear and unambiguous for the suppliers. Without a watertight specification a project may become ‘loose’ and result in numerous change control actions along the way, potentially creating inefficiencies.
   
Government tenders are usually comprehensive in the details requested in order to form an objective opinion of a potential supplier. Suppliers should be well versed in the intricacies of responding to PQQs and ITTs. These documents highlight the information required which may include questions about Certification to ISO9001, 27001 and 14001 as well as other bodies such as Investors in People and Customer Service Excellence, and seek to gain an overall picture of the respondent. More recently, suppliers to local government will be looking to achieve certification with Public Services Network (PSN). The Public Services Network (PSN) will substantially reduce the cost of communication services across UK government and enable new, joined-up and shared public services for the benefit of citizens. PSN is creating one logical network, based on industry standards, and a more open and competitive ICT marketplace at the heart of the UK public sector.
   
Expertise
Increasingly, competition is based upon capabilities and knowledge. The allowance of scope to view value-added methods of operation should result in a better end solution. Print management companies are the experts in this field and hence seeking advice can often pay dividends. Having at least shortlisted potential suppliers the best way forward is to form a collaborative approach to the benefit of all concerned. Suppliers should be able to react to changes when required and have a clear defined method of handling the project from start to finish. Contingency factors should be in place and are important in the event of minor or major catastrophes. The role of digital print is changing rapidly, meaning that larger and larger volumes now become cost-effective. Speeds can now run at up to thousands of meters per minute with every single impression different – tailoring the exact message to each individual person.
   
The Independent Print Industries Association (IPIA) is a not for profit organisation established 25 years ago whose membership comprises print management companies, trade printers and associated suppliers. Organisations link together and share knowledge of print, marketing and communication techniques. The IPIA is committed to helping its members develop their skill sets, grow their businesses and be able to offer a complementary range of services.

IPIA members
The benefits of choosing an IPIA member company are many and varied. First and foremost all new members are vetted and required to sign a code of practice. The IPIA organises many training and networking events all designed to increase the knowledge of Members. The IPIA shares news and views across the industry and has associations with most of the other print and communication focussed bodies. In today’s world where one solution is rarely enough, an IPIA Member can draw on and partner with a host of other companies specialising in their own skill sets. This collaborative approach helps to offer the end user an all-encompassing solution whilst only dealing with the one supplier. An IPIA Print Management member can draw on trade factories specialising in: design, data handling, print, digital print, digital marketing, and simply everything required for any communication requirements.
   
John Foster, managing director of Print Image Network Limited says: “Partnership and collaboration are key; no one production company can now hope to satisfy a customer’s total demands because the skill sets, machinery required and product diversifications are too varied. A Print Management company pulls these varied needs together and presents a single source solution for the end user.

For example, Print Image Network was tasked with delivering a multi-channel referendum on a high profile subject matter reaching out to 200,000 people for their opinion.

“We held meetings with the client (a London based Council) and built the project. Using our knowledge of the IPIA network of suppliers we seamlessly sought envelopes and printed material and handled the data in a manner which allowed the recipient of the postal vote packs to respond by paper, phone, internet or SMS voting. From a very high turnout, approximately 60 per cent of people voted by paper with 40 per cent using some form of digital media. This enabled a large number of people to view the question and supporting information whilst being able to vote electronically, thereby creating efficiencies and lowering not only the response cost but also the environmental impact.”

Further information
www.ipia.org.uk

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