Ray Chambers

Ray Chambers

Ray Chambers, CGCM, MBA, has invested over 30 years managing and directing printing plants, copy centers, mail centers and award-winning document management facilities in higher education and government.

Most recently, Chambers served as vice president and chief information officer at Juniata College. Chambers is currently a doctoral candidate studying Higher Education Administration at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). His research interests include outsourcing in higher education and its impact on support services in higher education and managing support services. He also consults (Chambers Management Group) with leaders in both the public and private sectors to help them understand and improve in-plant printing and document services operations.

Debunking the MPS Myth, ACUP Style

Managed print services (MPS) have evolved as a major force in our part of the printing and document management space. They’re also a major threat. MPS vendors have become increasingly aggressive in their attempts to convince our bosses that companies, public agencies, health care facilities, non-profits, or colleges and universities should not operate in-plant printing services. “It’s not your core business,” they argue.

Managed Print Services: Document Solution or Cash Cow?

Managed Print Services (MPS) is becoming mainstream. Ever since a large IT research organization published a "study" a few years ago in which it estimated that organizations spend 1 percent to 3 percent of total revenue on printing, an entire sub-industry has evolved to tap into this market. The researcher called it a "gold mine" but failed to address the fundamental issue: Is 1 percent to 3 percent too high, too low or just right?

Writing Successful Proposals

As an in-plant manager, crafting proposals is nothing new. But a poorly conceived request sent to management could mean your print shop being denied that new press, facility or employee you may so sorely need. In a new article by consultant Ray Chambers, he details how knowing your numbers may mean the difference between a proposal being approved, or tossed in the trash.

Writing Successful Proposals: It's All About the Numbers

As managers we have all been faced with situations where we needed to invoke change. Maybe we’ve had too few or too many employees. Maybe we needed to add a new piece of equipment or get rid of an old one. Maybe we needed a new facility. The common element in all of these change initiatives is that, most likely, we’ve had to convince someone at a higher level that action was needed.

Adapting to Change

If you ever set type by hand, if you’ve ever operated a Linotype or a Ludlow, if the terms “slug” or “chase” or “foundry” or “Hell Box” bring back thoughts of “back in the day,” you may relate to this story. No, this isn’t a story of nostalgia, and I won’t try to convince you how great things used to be. In fact, if you are familiar enough with a letterpress shop to remember the heat and the noise, I don’t have to tell you how much things have improved as we evolved into today’s digital print technologies.

Managing for Survival

A few years ago I did a presentation at a conference, which I called "Prepare to Defend Yourself." In it I explained that in my experience senior management probably does not understand the strategic contribution of an in-plant, so it's up to us to make the connection for them. The content was informed by more than 30 years of dealing with management and hundreds of projects involving in-plant performance.

Just Say “No”...Really?

A recent post on one of the print sites got my attention. The author, apparently an executive at a commercial shop—you know, the ones that say that we in-plants don’t get it—asked the question (and I’m paraphrasing here): how much business does a customer have to do with your firm to in order for you to take her/him on as a client.

Looking for Common Ground in Pittsburgh

It’s been several weeks since representatives of the in-plant community descended on Printing Industries of America (PIA) headquarters near Pittsburgh for an “In-plant/PIA Summit.” The summit was the brainchild of recently elected PIA board chairman Tim Burton and followed on the heels of unsuccessful merger talks between PIA and NAPL.

If I Wanted it Tomorrow, That’s When I’d Ask For it

You all know the drill: a customer shows up at the in-plant with a job that must be completed in an impossible time frame. The in-plant gets the job out on time, usually involving some heroic effort, and the customer fails to pick it up. Should you complain? Or see a rush job as an opportunity to add value, to show how an in-plant can contribute to the core purpose of the organization?

Managing by the Numbers

How can one manage workflow, prioritize jobs or manage resource allocation without a basic understanding of the volume and types of orders flowing through the shop? Sadly, I rarely see shops that collect even the most basic production data. Not knowing what we print, and for whom, is a big problem that will only increase in importance as we move forward.

The Problem with Benchmarks

If you’re looking for a benchmark to evaluate your performance, we suggest that you continuously benchmark your pricing against the prices charged by available commercial alternatives. You are not competing with other in-plants; you are competing with the print shops that operate in your area.

Developing a Centralized Copier Management Program

Ever since a highly respected IT research and advisory think tank published a study several years ago in which it opined that 1 to 3 percent of an organization's revenue was spent on printing and printing-related costs, managers and administrators have been trying to figure out how to optimize their spend on document printing solutions. You've all seen the hype.

In-plants Aren’t Commercial Printers

Everyone has suddenly become aware of “in-plants.” There was a time when in-plants were looked down on by our colleagues in the commercial world. We were somehow not quite as good as our commercial counterparts. Now that’s changed.

Recent In-plant Closings Don’t Add Up

In-plant closings are nothing new; we’ve all been under the outsourcing cloud for years. But why so many in such a brief period of time? These institutions are planning to shut down their printing plants even though they have not seen proposals from potential outsource vendors.

PIA/NAPL Unification Talks: Good for In-plants?

Last time I looked we’re part of the printing industry. A pretty sizeable part of it, in fact. But as usual, with the exception of In-Plant Graphics, printing and graphic arts media coverage will focus on how the unification impacts the commercial printing industry, but not the industry in general—and certainly not in-plants.

My New Year’s Wishes

I wish there was a way to help in-plant managers see things from my perspective. I’ve worked on 50 or more projects over the past few years trying to help top management understand why they have an in-plant and why the in-plant really is “core” to whatever business they happen to be in.

Is Outsourcing
 a Silver Bullet?

In folklore, silver bullets were used to deal with exceptional problems, like monsters. Organizations are dealing with some pretty exceptional problems, too, and “outsourcing” has been touted as management’s silver bullet to deal with them.

Reflections of a True Believer

In the days since the death of Apple's co-founder, a lot has been written on his vision, his genius, and how he changed the world. It’s all true. My relationship with Steve is much simpler and more personal. It’s really a relationship with an idea: The Mac.