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IPMA Goes Full Throttle in Milwaukee

The In-plant Printing and Mailing Association celebrated its 50th anniversary last month with a busy, information-packed conference that drew more than 130 in-plants to Milwaukee.

July 2014 By Bob Neubauer
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Despite some chilly spring weather, Milwaukee gave a warm welcome to the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association last month. More than 130 in-plant managers were on hand to celebrate IPMA's 50th anniversary during a very busy conference.

Their ranks included many first-time and long-absent attendees, which added a new dynamic to the discussions throughout the four-day event. A number of government printers from the National Government Publishing Association, now part of IPMA, were there this year, as well as two attendees from Australia.

Frequent themes at the conference included adding value with new services, adding efficiency with Web-to-print, measuring and benchmarking services, and avoiding being outsourced. These topics and many others were discussed in dozens of educational sessions led by in-plant managers, consultants and vendors. The detailed questions from the audience that followed many managers' presentations reflected a keen interest among attendees in the responsibilities and capabilities of their peers.

Between sessions, managers networked and browsed the booths in the vendor exhibit area, which featured 38 vendors—the highest number in years. The conference was capped with a well-orchestrated tour of Briggs & Stratton's in-plant, home to an impressive variety of equipment, including a four-color Ryobi press, a Kodak NexPress and a new Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS 2250P. (For many attendees, though, the highlight of the week was the tour of the Harley Davidson museum during the Tuesday evening outing—a venue that also inspired this year's conference slogan: "Full Throttle Communication.")

Retired RIT professor and industry sage Frank Romano provided an appropriate kickoff for the conference Sunday evening when he celebrated IPMA's 50 years of existence by reviewing the graphic arts technologies that have come and gone over the past half century.



The next morning, magician, comedian, author and self-proclaimed "dis-illusionist" Billy Riggs really got things going with an opening keynote that included plenty of magic and impressive "mind reading" tricks, along with some inspirational messages.

"You can either live your fears or you can live your dreams," he declared. Most people spend their lives in fear of things that don't amount to anything, he said. The greatest illusion in life is that you don't have what it takes, he added. If you don't believe in yourself, your employees won't either.

He noted that great leaders are good at developing and nurturing others, to inspire them to believe in themselves. The way you treat your employees, he said, will be reflected in the way they treat your customers. If you treat them poorly, they will still do their jobs, but not very well.

"Practice people development," he urged.

Leadership Secrets

NAPL Senior Consultant Howie Fenton gave a pair of presentations, revealing some of the secrets of in-plant leaders. Measuring key performance indicators and benchmarking performance with industry leaders were two of the key steps, he said.

"Leaders measure more," he remarked, and they use those measurements to motivate change. Reporting your measurement data to management is crucial to demonstrate your increased productivity.

When benchmarking against other printers, he noted, understanding your in-plant's sales per employee number is crucial. The industry standard is $123,000, he noted, but industry leaders report $164,000 per employee. In-plants can be hindered in comparisons with outside printers, he said, due to their typically higher compensation packages. So he urged them to run leaner by reducing FTEs and hiring more temporary workers for busy times. He noted that leading in-plants tend to hire more from outside the industry to obtain the skills they lack.

Fenton also went over the results of an NAPL in-plant workflow software survey. Most in-plant investment has been in Web-to-print, PDF workflow, print MIS and VDP software, he said, with Web-to-print considered the most worthwhile investment.

55 Ideas in 60 Minutes

Another informative session was moderated by Elisha Kasinskas, of Rochester Software Associates, and included a panel of leading in-plant managers: Brian Wadell, of the University of California-Davis; Doug Maxwell, of Brigham Young University; Tim Hendrix, with the State of Oregon; and Chuck Werninger, from Houston Independent School District.

Speaking in strict two-minute time slots, they took turns sharing their ideas on a variety of topics. First they stressed the importance of using metrics to justify their in-plants and evaluate new services. Involve staff and customers so you're sure to collect the right data, Hendrix advised. And make sure you communicate your findings. Wadell noted that some departments at his school weren't aware that the in-plant returns $700,000 a year to the university, so he now communicates that more clearly to the right people.

The panel discussed how Web-to-print has made it easier for customers to work with their in-plants along with other efforts they have made to engage with customers. Wadell's operation at UC-Davis offers an InDesign class for beginners; Maxwell's in-plant hosts an appreciation breakfast for BYU customers and staff that brings up to 600 people into the shop; Werninger insists his customer service staff phone and visit customers frequently and get to know them personally; Hendrix shares the in-plant's successes and failures with employees during daily "huddles."

The managers also gave examples of new services they are offering, such as window graphics at Houston ISD, garment printing at UC-Davis and e-books at BYU.

Outsourcing Success

No in-plant conference is complete without a discussion of outsourcing. Mike Schrader, of Brunswick Corp. related an outsourcing success story at his in-plant. When he proposed eliminating offset and adding digital equipment in 2008, he learned that his company was already looking into outsourcing all printing to a single supplier. He got himself on the team that was evaluating proposals, and got permission to have his shop bid on the work as well. In the end, his in-plant was cheaper for most smaller-quantity projects. Even after a facilities management company performed a full evaluation of his shop, the FM's recommendations were the same as those he had proposed, only at a higher cost.

In the end, his in-plant's role was expanded within the larger corporation and his shop's equipment was upgraded. In his session, Schrader encouraged managers to do anything they can for their parent organization and never refuse work. Understand their printing needs and equip for them. Focus on quick turnaround and excellent service, he said, and prove you are core to the organization.

The Lean Movement

Lean Manufacturing was covered by Jessica Van Dyn Hoven of Fox Valley Technical College who described her in-plant's efforts to reduce steps and barriers and become more efficient. Using value stream mapping, they looked at all steps required to complete a service, and eliminated those that did not add value. The accuracy of job delivery improved from 52 percent to 92.5 percent to date, she said.

In her session on Web-to-Print, Staci Hill, of Freese and Nichols, engaged the audience and created a list of 18 touch points for a typical job. She was able to cross off 10 of them that were eliminated by adding Web-to-print. This software has not only brought labor savings and encouraged customers to print on demand, it has minimized errors and waste, reduced the time spent on chargebacks and reporting, and enabled her shop to bring in more external work. Customers love the efficiency of Web-to-print, she noted.

"If your only solution is e-mail, you're going to lose them," Hill declared.

Augmented Reality

One fun session, which also demonstrated how print and digital communications can work together, explored augmented reality. The World Bank's Jimmy Vainstein offered numerous examples of pages (and sometimes tattoos) that can be scanned using an app on a mobile device to bring up 3D animations that appear to be coming out of the printed page.

Augmented reality technology supports print, he noted, since it requires a printed page in order to work. In-plants, he said, can find opportunities to use AR by creating interactive publications, which can be scanned to bring up additional information (such as when IPG readers scan pages in this magazine using the layar app to watch our videos). They can use AR on posters, as his in-plant has done, so people can scan them and see an event agenda or a related video. Or they can create clickable catalogs, which, when scanned, offer a "buy" button next to the merchandise being shown.

Numerous other interesting presentations filled out the IPMA conference:

  • Barbara Stainbrook and Erik Holdo, of Konica Minolta Business Solutions, again treated attendees to their culinary wizardry by cooking Milwaukee beer cheese soup while giving a presentation on new opportunities for in-plants. "One ingredient does not make a dish," noted Holdo, as the two discussed opportunities in direct mail, data mining, electronic signs and production inkjet printing.
  • Mike Lincoln and Teddy Abad-Perez, with the State of Colorado, described how they used Lean processes to overhaul the state's multifunction printer program, reducing devices from one for every 2.6 employees to one for every six people.
  • Canon convened a panel of two in-plants to relate their experiences: Sue DaBaco, of Alverno College, talked about her in-plant's advances into wide-format, document digitization and "insanely awesome customer service"; and Jason Plum, with Schneider Electric, described how his company went from outsourcing its Operations and Maintenance manuals to bringing the work in-house in 2009 and producing it on Canon equipment, saving the company $1.1 million that year.
  • Tricia Bhattacharya of Xerox noted that in-plants can be more strategically relevant, deepen their relationships with customers and enhance the value of their documents by moving into e-publishing. She described a solution that will optimize files for both print and e-delivery.
  • Mike Gatti, of Fairfax County Government, discussed the types of data managers must compile to show a return on investment, develop a business case and justify new equipment.
  • Kodak's Debra Payne Benson, backed by her team of Kodak "print geniuses," talked about how in-plants can use past experiences to reinvent themselves and move forward with new ideas. She solicited innovative ideas from managers in the audience as well.
  • Ricoh Americas' Toby Saalfeld went over color management basics, noting that many in-plants spend more time tweaking files to get color right than they would if they provided proper color management.

The conference ended with an awards banquet honoring the winners of the IPMA Awards and the In-Print 2014 awards. At the end of the evening, the Best of Show winners were revealed: Brigham Young University and East Carolina University.

Next year's IPMA conference location will mark an abrupt change from the cool temperatures during this year's event. It will take place June 8-11 in Orlando.


Returning to the IPMA conference this year, Barb Pellow, of InfoTrends, gave managers a lot to think about with her presentation on the seven habits of successful in-plants in a digital world. On her list:

  1. Be unreasonably aspirational. She urged managers to set goals in order to get results, and pointed to the winners of the IPMA awards as examples of in-plants that have done this to great effect.
  2. Be digital…be big. She noted that process color printing is growing rapidly and that inkjet will account for 58 percent of the industry’s print volume by 2017, according to InfoTrends.
  3. Be different. “Beyond print, what services have the most value?” she asked, pointing to value-added offerings like fulfillment, mail, mobile marketing, email messaging, website design, cross-media and others
  4. Follow the money. Be efficient, and create value by reducing costs, Pellow said, noting that for every dollar spent on print, $3 is spent on overhead. Add automation to reduce this, she encouraged.
  5. Be quick and easy to work with. She stressed that Web-to-print gives customers 24/7 access, and brings many other benefits.
  6. Acquire the capabilities to be a full-­service provider. Take a long, hard look at the skills your in-plant will need, and acquire them by hiring the right people.
  7. Be customer-­obsessed. You have only one boss, Pellow said, and that is your customer. He can fire everyone by spending his money elsewhere.
 
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