Shifting Supply Chain Pains for Competitive Gains

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Andy and Julie Plata
An American Printer Article
By Andy & Julie Plata 
American Printer and the OutputLinks Communications Group

Winning sailors shift their sails in advance to harness threatening winds

Lately, problems caused by supply chain disruptions seem to be part of every discussion since it affects everyone, whether businesses or consumers.

After years of dealing with pandemic lockdowns, declining volumes, rapidly changing client requirements, and cost escalations, the supply chain seems to be just one more profit obstacle for print company owners. Maybe it is time to admit that a print company's objective of gaining, retaining, and growing clients, revenues, and profits will be consistently challenged by problems that are often beyond its control.

Focusing only on the problem does not solve the problem. So maybe now is the time to change our focus from pain to gain.

5 Critical Business ElementsRefocus to Solutions

DSLR and video cameras often have an adjustment ring to enhance the shot by changing the focus. In like manner, if we view a cell through a microscope then change the focus, an entirely different structure appears. So, the question becomes, how to change the focus from the supply chain problems to identify the points of disruption and refocus on the “5 Critical Business Elements” to minimize or resolve the problems.

Diagnosing Pain Points

A doctor can deal with a patient's pain with a quick prescription. However, a thorough diagnosis is better. The doctor takes time to speak with and examine the patient, run tests, and review the family's medical history. From this investment of time and resources, conditions contributing to or exasperating the problem can be identified for long-term resolution. Thus, the pain was a stimulus for gain, leading to a more inclusive long-term solution.

Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice

ChainThese tough times can be the stimulus for a thorough business diagnosis from before the front office to beyond the loading dock. By conducting a complete business transformation review, problem areas can be identified and solutions planned for immediate or long-term repair.

A transformation plan should focus on the "5 Critical Business Elements" when reviewing, accepting, or scheduling enhancement ideas.

The beauty of a well-engineered transformation plan is that although initiatives may be scheduled years from now, the immediate initiatives will be synchronized to the long-term plan. The goal is to eliminate short-term patches that may hinder the implementation of future upgrades.

Brit More, Inc's Associate Editor, published an excellent article titled, Supply Chain Disruptions Aren't Likely to Get Better This Year. Here's What You Should Be Doing Now.

Brit's short article is well worth reading. His points stimulated the immediate action items listed below, which could be included in your print company's long-term business transformation plan.

A Few Supply Chain Pains

  • Escalating costs
    • Initiate a series of communications to inform clients of your escalating costs and the need to add surcharges or increase fees for orders.
    • Streamline by analyzing the profit on each of your company's services to determine which to promote, demote or eliminate.
    • Review possible automation or synchronization of disjointed production processes.
    • Upgrade the front office and MIS software to support faster, more accurate billing and collections.
  • Access to paper and supplies
    • Analyze past ordering data to optimize ordering larger quantities of supplies to minimize production delays and expensive emergency orders.
    • Review alternatives to hard-to-source specialty papers with clients.
    • Determine any post-processing services requiring hard-to-source supplies to either repurpose or outsource the process.
Supply chain problems hinder printer profits. However, by focusing on the 5 Critical Business Elements, the problems can be leveraged to gain, retain, and grow clients, revenues, and profits.

In closing

The article's suggestions are based on our decades of operating enterprises ranging from print to publishing, software, and consulting services, enhanced by dozens of discussions with print service providers worldwide.

We hope that our focus on print-centric business information stimulates ideas for building a bigger and better print business in 2022.

Let us know if you agree or disagree with our ideas and suggestions.

Focusing on the business side of print,
Andy & Julie Plata
5 Critical Business Elements



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