The Ever-Changing In-Plant
When I started working for Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators (DMBA), 21 years ago, print was basically the only form of communication sent to our customers. We had a small offset print shop with one designer and two pressmen. We had a separate mail operation with a team lead and four mail clerks. We produced and stored a large inventory of applications, carbonless forms, letterhead, envelopes, etc. We had so much work during our open enrollment period that we outsourced a significant portion of our printing to BYU Print & Mail Services. The printed communication pieces our staff produced and mailed were essential to our business and the customers we served.
Over the years, as technology progressed and electronic communication became more accessible, our print shop and mail center saw a sharp decline in our work volume. We slowly stopped producing large offset jobs and graduated to short-run, variable data jobs. We sold our offset equipment and moved into the digital world. We have always tried to respond and keep up with the ever-changing environment we work in, which can be both exciting and scary, but the staff at DMBA has always been very open to change and willing to learn new technologies, processes and procedures. We are now working with our communications and IT departments to move into the omni-channel or cross-channel communication realm. We are looking for ways that print can reinforce or enhance different forms of electronic communication. We want to ensure that the services we provide today are as valuable, to our company and to our customers, as they were when print was the primary form of communication, but we don’t want to print just for the sake of printing. We want to provide value!
There is nothing terribly unique about the challenges we face here at DMBA compared to every other in-plant operation out there. I’ve heard similar concerns and issues discussed at every IPMA conference I’ve attended and on the IPMA community forum. The bottom line is this: if you are an in-plant manager, you have to keep up. You have to be proactive. You cannot bury your head in the sand and hope that everything will be okay when you come back up for air.
This is where the IPMA community can play a role. If you are a member, you are a part of a very diverse family of like-minded individuals that can help. There are large, medium, and small shops in this community. There are managers in higher education, government, K through 12, insurance, retail, etc. There are vendor partners in this community. There are resources online at ipma.org and there is a very competent staff in Kearney, Missouri that can steer you in the right direction. Use your resources. Be proactive and keep moving forward.
Mike O’Hara is the Manager of the Central Services Department at Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators(DMBA) located in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has been a Certified Mail Manager(CMM) since September of 2013 and is current chapter president of the Utah Chapter of IPMA. He currently serves on IPMA’s Board of Directors as Membership Representative.