The Future of the In-plant
Though Hurricane Irma prevented him from attending PRINT 17 on Sunday as planned, Greg Cholmondeley's research on the future of in-plants was front and center in a presentation at the Learning Experience Show Floor Theatre on the show's opening day. The president of Cholmonco Inc. surveyed 140 in-plants for the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association study, which was sponsored by Canon U.S.A. John Sarantakos, director of the University of Oklahoma's in-plant, presented Cholmondeley's research in his absence.
The majority of survey respondents hailed from the education, government and healthcare industries, though in-plants from many other industries also responded. As a whole, respondents were optimistic, Sarantakos reported, noting that 81% expected their budgets to stay the same or increase in the next five years.
Nearly 60% of in-plants have created strategic plans to guide them, he said, adding that this has given them more positive outlooks.
"In-plants that had strategic plans," Sarantakos said, "were more optimistic about the future of their operations."
Though the study revealed that smaller in-plants were less likely to have a strategic plan in place, "all the in-plants of over 100 employees have strategic plans," he said.
To help in-plants craft their own strategic plans, the report offered seven key elements that in-plants should include in their plans:
- Aligned with the company's strategic plan
- Measurable revenue targets
- Measurable client targets
- Measurable volume targets
- Measurable services targets
- Specific investment mileposts
- Implementation mileposts
Only 25% of the in-plants surveyed have four or more of those seven key elements, the report revealed. Just 40% have revenue and client targets. Less than half have volume targets and investment mileposts. Not surprisingly, those that have all seven elements in their strategic plans have an increased level of optimism that their in-plants will grow.
The report pointed out that having investment and implementation mileposts is like having a contract with management to upgrade equipment and systems. You're saying, in effect, that you believe your volume will grow by a certain percent and to accommodate that you'll need certain equipment.
The report noted that submitting a five-year plan to management for approval is essentially making a tacit agreement about where the in-plant will be in five years.
"This is something that has to go to your senior management," Sarantakos noted. "They should buy into it."
This way when you need equipment, management has already accepted the idea that you're planning for growth and is more likely to support your plans.
By measuring how the in-plant is doing against its objectives, reporting that to management and adjusting your plan, you'll keep the in-plant's progress fresh in management's mind and ensure that management understands how the in-plant is benefiting the organization, the report said.
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Graphics since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 130 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Graphics.