How to benchmark your in-house print sales

Does your print room provide real value? Here’s how to find out.


Benchmarking basics

Benchmarking basics

There are good reasons to maintain a print room in-house: security of data, ease of use, efficiency, quality control – and of course, saving your organisation money. It’s this last attribute – cost efficiency – that print room managers assume will always be true for in-house printing. But can you actually prove to senior management that your print room passes the value-for-money test?

This boils down to two key things. Firstly, could you show that your internal customers are charged less than outside printers would charge? And secondly, do your prices cover the costs of running the print room? If you can’t give a confident “Yes” to both, it’s time to do some benchmarking.

By comparing your print room’s charges with those of external suppliers, you can check whether its direct costs are being recovered sufficiently to fund its operations. This type of benchmarking helps you to set critical performance baselines, such as SLAs and KPIs, and assists when negotiating with senior management for investment in new equipment and people.

First and foremost, ensure that you start with the right inputs. In a typical in-house print operation, these will fall into two main categories:

Macro costs: Costs of general running of the print room, including: annual totals of sheets and images printed and finished; consumables costs; equipment ownership and maintenance; and direct staff costs.

Micro costs: Costs of individual jobs that broadly represent typical annual production, including sheets/images printed and finished; internal per-unit price; and total number of units produced annually.

Aggregating micro-costs into a “basket” of up to 10 jobs will give you a good basis for comparison against both external prices and total print room running costs. Sticking with one format at a time (e.g. A4) is also very important, as it will ensure you are always doing a like-against-like comparison.

Crunching the data

Crunching the data

Your next step after gathering the data is to analyse it. We don’t have the space to address this in detail here, but, ultimately, it comes down to value – and understanding that the word ‘value’ has different meanings for different people. Canon’s guide on Proving Your Worth identifies three areas that help to express the value of a print room to its organisation:

  • Room output (i.e. number of impressions printed), and money saved in printing
  • Does the print room enable efficient organisation-wide communications?
  • Does the print room help the organisation achieve its mission?

The central aim of benchmarking is to compare your performance against both commercial printers and other print operations. It takes time, but is an important part of continuous self-improvement. Our research found that most corporate reprographics departments (CRDs) don’t benchmark enough – just 5.3% do it quarterly, while over 60% do it occasionally or never.

Printing for speed and efficiency

On-demand printing for speed and efficiency

When an organisation’s internal print service can’t handle growing volumes or demand for greater quality, externally-bought print is often the next step taken. But this can be an expensive solution to what is primarily a problem of inefficient production workflows.

On-demand document production solves this problem by embedding advanced workflow control and automation into every stage of the digital printing process – design, submission, production, distribution, archiving, and reporting/analysis. This enables your print room to provide a more flexible, cost-effective services to its users, including short run-lengths, faster turnarounds and personalised printing.

A compelling feature of on-demand production is web-to-print (W2P), which allows customers to assemble designs and submit print jobs through a rich web user interface. The strongest argument for W2P that customers love it: CRDs with a web presence were rated “excellent” by 55% of customers, compared to just 22% of those without one.

The versatility and efficiency of an on-demand printing service makes it the ideal fit for educational organisations. Tight budgets, combined with large short-run orders tied to critical milestones such as term starts, exams, and student graduation, make efficient production workflows an absolute imperative. On-demand production offers high versatility and productivity across a full range of job types – including exam papers, signage and book printing – and critical cost-savings due to the absence of profit mark-ups and commercial sales commissions, which can increase costs by as much as 30%.

On-demand printing can help you meet your ambition of having an in-house print department that is as valuable as possible to the organisation. And by offering real competitive advantage over organisations that lack a smart, centralised printing service, convert your print room from a cost centre into a profit centre.

For a personalized consultation on how to transform your organisational print framework

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