In-plants Bring Value to Colleges and Universities
A new white paper sponsored by Océ North America offers in-plants 12 recommendations for success.April 2011 By Cary Sherburne
Océ North America has sponsored a research project that documents the value of in-plant printing operations in the college and university environment. The resulting white paper is initially available for download exclusively from In-plant Graphics.
While the research focused specifically on the college and university environment, many of the findings and best practices in this report are also applicable to in-plant operations in other vertical markets. The full paper can be downloaded from the IPG site or from Océ.
The research paper presents an analysis of the evolution of college and university in-plant operations, and provides an overview of the market definition and market size of this printing industry segment. It includes a discussion of trends and best practices among leading higher-education in-plant print operations. It shows how well-managed in-plants can bring—and are bringing—significant value to their college and university hosts. For example, many college and university in-plants are not only self-supporting, but also contribute revenue to their host institutions that can make a significant difference to the bottom line.
"At Océ, we feel like we are a part of the tight-knit higher-education in-plant community. Our impetus for this project was to help today's college and university in-plant managers show decision makers that the in-plant is a true asset to their community and truly has the college's/university's best interests at heart," says Heather Matthews, product marketing manager for Océ's high volume products and programs. "They have a vested interest and bond that outside agencies just can't offer."
Recommendations for Success
To ensure that in-plant operations are delivering the right products and services through the right means and to the right constituents, the research revealed the following recommendations for success:
Maintain the Production Infrastructure. This should be a key priority for in-plants. Equipment and software have two distinct life cycles: An operational life and a market life. Continuing to use equipment or software beyond their market life simply because they still function at some level reduces the overall productivity of the shop and its value to the institution.
Pricing Models. Most in-plant operations in the college and university environment are either self-supporting or mostly self-supporting (75 percent according to IPG data). In-plants should create a formal written business and marketing plan that is updated annually and clearly defines the operation's strategic intent. This plan should be well known within the institution. Pricing for services should be structured to be below the commercial market to provide cost advantages for the university, but should also include enough margin to fund necessary enhancements to ensure that the in-plant remains of significant value to the institution.