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Top Ways to Add Value to Your In-Plant

Top in-plants are meeting today’s business challenges by increasing the value of the print center in their organization. Corporate print centers are serving more customers, capturing more work, and positioning themselves as a strategic asset rather than a cost center.

To reduce outsourcing, an obvious first step is to expand the capabilities of the in-house print facilities. “They are adding equipment such as wide-format printers for printing of schematics and signage, digital printers with higher volume capabilities and image quality traditionally only available using offset lithography, and professional grade finishing components to produce even complex document layouts in-house,” notes Mike Fego, manager, Product Marketing—Production Print, Konica Minolta.

This is a good first step, says Fego, but the more progressive companies are also looking beyond the simple reduction or elimination of outsourcing costs. “They are looking toward using the new capabilities of the corporate central reprographics department (CRD) to create entirely new revenue streams,” says Fego. “These organizations are using the capabilities, and often excess capacity, to solicit printing business from other organizations—many of which may lack the resources to produce high-value, in-house prints.”

To get to that next level, in-plants are “assessing and developing their strategic position in their parent organization, and ensuring they have a clear understanding of their current—and future—customer base and the services they want and need,’ says Elisha Kasinskas, marketing director of Rochester Software Associates. “They are aligning the print center’s goals and objectives with the overall organization; and developing a plan of key actions that can or need to be taken to increase the value of the print center, i.e., leading the organization's total print strategy.”

One in-plant that is at that next level is Colorado State’s Integrated Documents Solutions facility within the Department of Personnel and Administration in the Central Services Division.

Over the last 10-15 years, the facility has slowly migrated away from being a traditional copy center, first to a combination copy center, offset printer, bindery, and design shop, then into an integrated print and mail operation, and finally to a full service bureau offering transactional printing services, explains Mike Lincoln, Colorado state printer.

In fact, when a Colorado State employee needs copies of a PowerPoint or multiple copies of a report, chances are the job will get farmed out to one of the state’s other printing facilities, or to a commercial vendor.

Lincoln, who became head of the department in 2004, noted that the facility  “had made a significant investment in mail operation equipment, with automated intelligent inserters and automated sorters. We continued on that road, replacing our older and inserting sorting equipment with Pitney Bowes Olympus sorters and new inserters.”

IDS then evolved into a true transactional printing facility. “To really leverage our investment on the mail side, we made a shift that was partly customer driven,” says Lincoln. “Four years ago, 50 percent of our business was transactional printing for human services; we did it so well it made sense to make the shift to more of a service bureau provider for transactional printing.”

For the last 3 years, IDS’ primary focus has been as a service bureau for the various political entities within the state of Colorado.

“By service bureau I mean an entity that provides data services,” says Lincoln. “We provide complete address quality services, whether or not we are going to print for that entity. We provide the ability to compose correspondence for political subdivisions. Let’s say a city needs to reach residents about a program they are offering—we provide the services to help them design and develop correspondence, correspondence that is targeted and effective.”

An important part of IDS’ service offering is consulting. “We consult with our customers on whether they should use electronic delivery or print to reach their customers,” explains Lincoln. “We show them how to maximize their postage spend, how to effectively use real estate on a sheet of paper. We help them choose which envelope to use, which is the best method to get return info back.”

IDS’ success in the transactional arena is requiring it to invest in a AFD solution and a color inkjet printer, which will replace five monochrome cut sheet models.

“A lot of our customers come in say ‘our printing is so complex,’” says Lincoln. “Once we get ready to print, that’s the easy part. I know how to print—I’ve been doing it for 30 years. In transactional, it’s handling the data that is key. If we can’t handle the data right, then we are in trouble.”

The ADF solution, says Lincoln, will make a big difference in minimizing or eliminating data mistakes.

Workflow’s Role

The in-plant segment will continue to emphasize workflow to further automate processes, notes Kasinskas of RSA. There will be increased use of variable templates to automate manual process, satisfy customer needs, and add VPD services.

“Many of our web-to-print customers have documented volume increases from 30-300 percent while using our software without adding staff, says Kasinskas. “Our software solutions and our Customer Success Assurance approach provide the tools, insights, and information to enable an in-plant to position itself as an entity that provides value rather than creating costs for the organization,” she says.

One such customer is UPMC, a global health enterprise with more than 50,000 employees, 20 hospitals, 400 doctors’ offices, and numerous specialty clinics and other facilities headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA. Its centralized print center supports them all.

In 2009 UPMC added WebCRD from RSA to fully automate on-demand job submission, improve forms ordering accuracy, and reduce the number of touch points in their workflow. It works in tandem with other RSA software-- M.I.S. Print, QDirect output manager—to print Explanation of Benefits (EOB) forms, patient statements, clinical results, lab reports, and even financials for the University from the mainframe. These key software solutions help the print shop innovate and operate in an efficient and effective manner, in order to carry out the organization’s mission to provide outstanding patient care.

Value Propositions

Konica Minolta's overarching "EnvisionIT Production" value proposition for in-plant shops includes cut sheet color and monochrome digital presses, such as the bizhub PRESS C8000, which offer offset-like printing at lower cost for short-run printing, with the added benefit of digital RIP technology to enable variable-data printing for direct mail marketing. ““We also offer wide format printing from partner vendors—both high speed/high-volume (KIP) and low-cost/high quality inkjet (HP—to help them offer additional services. Through a combination of our own inline professional finishing options and partnerships with best-in-class offline finishing vendors, we can enable these in-house print shops to handle pretty much any style of finishing they require, adding value to the printed products that they offer to customers, ” says Fego.”

Konica Minolta also offers a wide variety of software and services to tailor the workflow to meet their needs and the needs of their customers.

An example is NewMark Merrill, a rapidly growing owner and manager of over 67 shopping centers with more than 1,500 tenants in California, Illinois, and Colorado. The company was being buried by an overload of paper documents and files that were difficult to share and collaborate with across offices. In addition, the files were taking up a huge, and expensive, physical footprint.

“In our business, we deal with a constant stream of contracts, leases, and other critical documentation that needs to be securely archived and accessed on demand,” says Sandy Sigal, president and chief executive officer for NewMark Merrill Companies.

NewMark Merrill enlisted Konica Minolta to help it identify and architect a solution.

Konica Minolta crafted an Acquisition Management System (AMS) based on Hyland Software’s OnBase enterprise content management (ECM) suite. The software gave Merrill the tools to create automated, balanced workloads and a secure, searchable central repository for documents.

With the successful deployment of the OnBase solution, it was onto the next challenge—spurring user adoption of the various systems, which included the OnBase solution, the financial/ accounting system, excel-based reporting and line-of-business applications.

To this end, Merrill created a centralized portal that integrated access to its key systems through a user-friendly web interface.

“Regardless of location or system, our users have a single point of entry for their corporate resources– information is accessible via the web to support our remote locations and traveling workforce,” states Sigal.

The return on investment is very clear. Merrill staff previously spent 80 percent of its time working on the administrative details of an acquisition. With the implementation of its AMS, it now only spends 20 percent on the mechanical steps of acquisition, leaving the majority of time for driving new revenue streams and improving its properties.