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A Guide to In-House Printing vs Outsourced Printing

Posted by Richard Hardstaff on 21-Dec-2017 16:17:21

A print management company provides a full end-to-end service, offering much more than just the physical print production.Outsourcing any element of your business is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Weighing up the advantages and any potential pitfalls of outsourcing is key to ensuring that the outcome is beneficial to and profitable for your business in the long run.

In an age where outsourcing is becoming a much more common, strategic option for business owners, there’s never been a better time to reassess your current printing processes and consider alternative means.

In a recent survey by OKI Systems UK, it was revealed that 52% of financial directors and IT managers don’t know how much they are spending on printing. This statistic alone brings worrying implications for businesses whose printing costs may be spiralling out of control. But, cost is just one element you need to consider when drawing up conclusions as to which printing option is best for your business.

So, let’s take a look at the different aspects of the printing process and how printing in-house and print outsourcing to a specialist company weigh up against one another.

The Comparison: Time

When you’re juggling multiple deadlines and overseeing numerous different processes it can often feel like there are not enough hours in the day. Printing may seem like a minor aspect of your business, but when you start calculating the hours, it soon adds up.

Operating your own in-house printing offers the flexibility to print out materials when you need them, making sure they are immediately available in the case of tight deadlines. However, who would this task fall back on, and does a member of your team really have the time to take care of this operation as and when required?

By giving the responsibility of your print to a specialist print management team, you’ll be able to channel your energies back into the running of your business. An external company will work to your deadlines, supplying the print material you need, when you need it.

Much in the same way as when a business juggles the process in-house, as well as the physical production, print management companies also take care of delivery and distribution. You’ll have access to a more streamlined solution, with options to schedule a batch of deliveries, set the time-scale, and even arrange deliveries for the same day. You can closely track the delivery process of materials, without the worry of lateness.

The Winner: Print Management Outsourcing

The Comparison: Cost

When you stop to think about the different components that make up the cost of printing, you might be surprised at how quickly they add up. There are material costs in the form of paper and ink, the initial costs of the printing equipment, and any maintenance costs that come along with this, among others. Confirming just how quickly these costs can accelerate, industry experts suggest that many organisations can spend between a whopping one and six percent of their annual revenues on printing alone.

Now more than ever, resources are readily available, enabling your business the opportunity to oversee printing in-house. Also, technology has advanced significantly, meaning that it’s never been easier to acquire the best printing equipment for your own office. Whilst this may raise the question of why you would ever move away from printing in-house, it’s important to consider all of the cost components, especially ‘hidden’ costs in the form of equipment costs and the general upkeep of managing these processes yourself. Also, at the rate technology is advancing, your business is likely to find it incredibly different to keep up with the latest equipment and changes.

According to research from 2015, many businesses rely on traditional methods of printing in-house, with as many as 29% of businesses keeping a stock of replacement backup printers in case of malfunction or disrepair. Whilst this may sound sensible, it also increases the costs to your business of maintaining multiple printers.

On the flip side, if you choose to outsource, you won’t have to worry about these staggering costs. You’ll still have constant access to the best printing technology and resources, without having to pay for upgrades, maintenance, and routine material costs. A print management company will handle all of this for you, as part of your contract. This can result in significant cost savings of between 10-30%, according to analyst firm, Gardner.

Furthermore, the best companies will also continuously look for ways to reduce your printing costs by closely monitoring stock and supply. Gone are the days of over- or underestimating your requirements. Having an external company overseeing your stock helps to prevent unnecessary print jobs and cut down on wastage or redundant stock. In fact, as much as two thirds of printing is considered waste every year. This means you pay for what you need, and nothing more.

The Winner: Print Management Outsourcing

The Comparison: Expertise

One thing you shouldn’t underestimate is the time and resources needed to train staff on printing. When printing in-house learning how to operate printing equipment isn’t as simple as it may seem, and can be a strain on your business. Whether you choose to employ someone who is solely focussed on the printing aspects of your business or you factor this into an existing employee’s role, training requires both time and money. Also, if there is only one person responsible for your printing, your business may become unstuck if the employee is absent or moves on.

By switching to a print management company, you’ll acquire printing expertise. Delegating the printing responsibility to a team of highly trained professionals instantly eliminates the need for internal training. You can sit back, safe in the knowledge that your printing is in strong hands. Additionally, your business will receive expert guidance and advice on the best techniques, methods, and materials to suit a specific printing project.

The Winner: Print Management Outsourcing

The Comparison: Quality

When you’re trying to cut costs, quality can often be forfeited. Sourcing the best resources for the lowest price isn’t easy and could leave you blindly choosing, in order to simply speed up the process.

With a print management company, quality is essential, no matter the size or scale of the printing project. You can expect only the best, whether you require internal communications documents one day or brochures the next.

An external company opens the doors to the best supplies and technology, from paper and ink to printing equipment and specialist machinery – all of which aren’t as readily available when you choose to manage your own print in-house. Each stage of the printing process is handled with care and the utmost precision.

The Winner: Print Management Outsourcing

The Comparison: Reporting

Ever wondered how to break down all of the components of your printing expenditure? When you handle your own printing, it’s difficult to fully control what you’re spending, making it difficult to analyse your processes and implement improvements. If you do have full visibility of costs, quality and stock levels centrally, you will doubtless spend considerable time collecting and analysing this data.

A print management company provides a full end-to-end service, offering much more than just the physical print production. You’ll receive in-depth insights into your printing patterns, easy access to stock management, and transparency when it comes to costs. Data will show you exactly what you’re spending, broken down into digestible segments for each individual product, material, or delivery.

An external company is there to guide you throughout the printing process and can readily advise on how to reign in costs, improve processes, and increase business productivity. A key feature to look for when considering print outsourcing is the offer of a print audit. This will give your business a full assessment on your existing processes and analyse what changes can be made to boost overall profitability and growth.

The Winner: Print Management Outsourcing

It’s normal to feel hesitant about outsourcing your printing, but the benefits of print outsourcing are clear versus handling the print process in-house. Your business will no longer have to spend resources calculating costs and time; outsourcing offers peace-of-mind that you are receiving the highest quality materials, for the lowest costs, without the hassle of managing deadlines and distribution yourself.

Are you thinking of switching to outsourcing? Download your free copy of our eBook, Print Management: How to Reduce Costs, Save Time, and Improve Quality, for information on how our print management solutions can help your business grow.

Download the SF Taylor guide to print management

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