It’s tempting to start the new year with a bucket of resolutions, all defined with the best of intentions. Yes, this is the year we will streamline our production, update our systems, and cross-train the entire staff. It’s all exciting and spirits are high. Then the work of executing on those resolutions begins and it all gets harder as the business of getting work processed and delivered conflicts with those good intentions.
So this year, let’s do something different. It’s likely that your 2020 plan went out the door sometime back in March. Many in-plant operations were shut down and work shifted out to external partners. For other in-plants the work kept coming at a new pace, often forcing machine acquisition and staff changes to accommodate the new work. On December 21, 2020 you were not likely where you thought you would be, so let’s take a new baseline and create some bite-sized tasks that won’t be too overwhelming but will still move your in-plant forward.
In a previous blog, I said that you should assess your offerings, which is the perfect task as you start the year. Are you carrying items in your product catalog that you no longer produce? Can you do more than what you offer? Don’t make this bigger than it needs to be! Here’s how to do it:
Define your product list.
You may have a web portal, a walk-up order list, or you may not be that formal. You may be responding to requests as they come in. Whatever your current state is, let’s make a list and check it twice.
Not sure what all you can do? That isn’t uncommon, so start with your order entry system for everything you’ve produced in the last year. If there isn’t enough information in your order entry system – and sometimes there isn’t – look to your job tickets.
Still can’t build the list? Resort to the team. Ask everyone on the team to list they types of work they know you do.
Take all the lists and eliminate the duplicates. When you look at the list, does it reflect your 2021 plan? Should you add anything? Should you delete anything? Should you poll your customers to see what they need?
Once you know what you can produce and want to produce, it’s time to get everyone in the constituency updated.
Shout what you can do from the Roof Tops.
You should know your regular customers, but who else is in your business ecosystem that might be sending work outside? Who in that ecosystem might not know what you can produce? Especially as we move through 2021, who needs employee-facing posters or mailed communication?
Do you produce for outside organizations? Many in-plants prospered in 2020 by acting as consolidators for nearby groups that needed to close and by finding new work because of their capabilities. Now that we are into 2021, consider if working for outside organizations is an option. If you have capacity and capability, leverage it!
Do you partner with outside organizations to handle work you can’t do in-house? If you don’t have those partnerships, consider them as you begin 2021. You might find a local partner who has wide-format or kitting capabilities that compliment your in-house offerings! And, don’t forget that trade printers can also be a great source of expanded opportunity.
And, finally, revisit your contingency plan.
Be prepared for the unexpected.
Even if you had a recovery plan in place, it likely wasn’t built for what happened in 2020. Now is a great time to dust off the binder or crack open the file that provides your guidance and test it against what you experienced in 2020 and how you see 2021. You may find that it doesn’t cover work-from-home scenarios, security in the context of working from home, and up-to-date chain of command contact details. Correct that!
As you begin the year, think in terms of bite-size chunks, not the huge steak dinner. Break your bucket list into tasks that can be accomplished in a short time frame. When considering workflow, software, and hardware changes, build a reasonable timeline for assessing current conditions, researching options and timelines, and identifying migration requirements. And then, make an adjacent plan for how to continue your forward movement in case of continuing or new lockdowns.
Make 2021 the year that you make on-going improvement your key to growth! Questions? Drop me a ping on LinkedIn or drop me a note at email@example.com!
Pat McGrew helps companies perform better in the print hardware, software and printing services industries. Promoting Best Practices for your Business, Pat leverages years of working as an executive, marketer, analyst, industry evangelist and consultant to enable business growth. She covers workflow and bizflow effectiveness, management and messaging for products, services, and businesses.
From owning a software company to serving the market, her experience spans all customer communication channels (CCM, ECM, ECP, EMM) and segments: transaction, data-driven and static marketing, packaging and label print, textiles, and production commercial print using offset, inkjet, and toner.
An experienced professional speaker and co-author of 8 industry books, editor of A Guide to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge, regular writer in the industry trade press, podcaster and host of #PrintSampleTV, Pat won the 2014 #GirlsWhoPrint Girlie Award for dedication to education and communication in the industry, and the 2016 Brian Platte Lifetime Achievement Award from Xplor International. She is certified as a Master Electronic Document Professional by Xplor (lifetime status), and as a Color Management Professional (CMP), CMP Digital, and BrandQ Professional by IDEAlliance. Find Pat on Twitter as @PatMcGrew and on LinkedIn.