I recently had the pleasure of speaking with four IPMA members on our Webinar: The Present and Future of In-Plant Print Mail Communications. You can view the replay here.
Our webinar panelists included Tammy Golden, Assistant Commissioner of Document Solutions at State of Tennessee and Mike Lincoln, State of Colorado Printer. In a recent IPMA blog, I shared how Tammy and Mike assessed their teams and services so they could adapt and grow. Both teams implemented changes and experienced growth in 2021. On the webinar, they shared how they are responding to staffing challenges and paper shortages while leveraging strong partnerships to meet their clients’ needs for printing and mailing.
The webinar included two additional speakers, Lauren Tarbet: Copy Supervisor, Pflugerville (Texas) Independent School District, and Danelle Clark, Enterprise Correspondence Technologies Manager, American Family Insurance. From the perspective of K-12 education and the insurance sector Lauren and Danelle shared their perspectives on what is enabling their teams to thrive in changing times.
Print needed for virtual learning
School districts experienced some of the most dramatic changes due to the pandemic. In the spring of 2020, Lauren’s team was responsible for printing substantial amounts of course materials and packets to support students, teachers, and parents for at home/virtual learning environments. With the return to in-school learning, Lauren’s team experienced a dramatic decrease in normal printing as many documents were replaced with digital versions and online resources. The operations team took advantage of the downtime to expand their offerings for wide format signs and banners.
Wide format print supports health and safety protocols
Lauren’s team had invested in an upgraded 60-inch, wide format printer just prior to the pandemic. In 2020 and 2021 they dramatically expanded the number of signs and graphics they offered teachers and administrators. The additional wide format products and signs supported visual awareness for health and safety protocols across the district. Further investment in an automated digital cutter for signage streamlined the workflow and shortened production time for signs, banners, and bumper stickers.
The biggest impact to the print operation was improving efficiency with automated finishing. By expanding the wide format offerings Lauren was able to keep all staff employed despite significant reductions in course material print volumes. The demand for wide format jobs has increased awareness for all the services of the in-plant operation.
Operational efficiency eliminates pre-printed forms
American Family Insurance is the 13th largest property and casualty insurance group in the US, with over 12 million policy owners and 11,000 employees. Danelle Clark led the team in moving all lines of business to one enterprise content management system with the goal to streamline print mail communications with policyholders and sales agents.
The content management project was driven by the desire to implement a white paper factory for print mail communications. The success was measured in eliminating pre-printed forms, decreasing warehouse space, and eliminating obsolescence. The streamlined workflow also reduced the number of printers and inserters needed. They accomplished this while also increasing print volumes by 4 million pieces during the pandemic while meeting all SLAs.
With several acquisitions in the last few years, American Family’s print-mail correspondence will grow from 50 million pieces per year to 90 million pieces by the end of 2023.
Cross Training is a critical success factor
During the webinar all four panelists shared how cross training their teams was critical to their operation thriving. Cross training across functions, software and equipment enabled managers to:
- Be creative in scheduling
- Respond to staffing challenges
- Support new services
- Manage increased volumes of work
Thriving in 2022
Our panelists talked about how they implemented new ways to incent and acknowledge their employees. Incentives included increased hourly wages, ‘on the spot’ financial bonuses, free meals, and additional communication. Some implemented flexible scheduling, 4-day work weeks, and shorter lunch breaks to allow staff to leave earlier. Incentives and acknowledgments have contributed to improved morale during changing business environments.
Customer communications drive strategy
Across state in-plants, school districts and insurance companies, panel members implemented new ways to communicate more frequently with their customers. With customer input, they are changing their strategies for investments, new services, delivery options, and improving turnaround times for print and mail.
How are you planning to make your team thrive in 2022?
Lois Ritarossi, CMC®, is the President of High Rock Strategies, a consulting firm focused on sales and marketing strategies, and business growth for firms in the print, mail and communication sectors. Lois brings her clients a cross functional skill set and strategic thinking with disciplines in business strategy, sales process, sales training, marketing, software implementation, inkjet transformation and workflow optimization. Lois has enabled clients to successfully launch new products and services with integrated sales and marketing strategies, and enabled sales teams to effectively win new business. You can reach Lois at https://www.highrockstrategies.com/ or Lritarossi@highrockstrategies.com