Not Solving Problems is the Problem!

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By Debbie Nicholson, Think-to-INK!

back to basicsDear PSPs, I've walked in your shoes and understand your unique challenges. Let's tackle a few of them together.

I recently completed an audit/study for a client. You might be wondering why. Let’s explore the reasons together.

My client was determined to enhance their customer relevance for months. What a noble aim! But one obstacle kept getting in the way—slow production. It’s taxing to stay relevant when customers aren't receiving their projects on time.

So, I prompted a detailed meeting with the owners and leadership team (individually); I noted everyone was willing to point the finger at production for lack of consistent updates on the job board, spotty communication, zero-project organization, quality issues, and inexcusable missed deadlines.

Well, that’s settled then – it must be solely a production problem, right?  Wrong!

Stay with me here…it gets better!

I met with each production team member, asking them pre-defined, specific questions. I also gave them the freedom and safe space to enlighten me on why the production department was viewed as why their company had become less relevant to their customers. ---  Ouch, did I get an earful!

Let me start with this -- If you change how you look at things, the things you look at will change!

When your company’s spine is not in alignment, it is painful. Your company will continue to suffer unless you make much-needed adjustments.  But first, you need to see it!

With the owner's and leadership team members' glasses on, I walked through the loopholes captured through my one-on-one conversations with their production staff.

The Problem

Job Jackets: The detailed information required to produce a project is continually omitted (e.g., sizing, quantity, preferred, single-sided or double-sided, substrate details, lamination preference, cutting specifics, needed hardware, application, fulfillment, and packaging requirements, complete date-by, and delivery instructions).

problem solutionOnly complete production details will ensure delivery timelines, allowing your facility to run smoothly. Otherwise, a rush project will be felt throughout the in-line projects, opening up the possibility of miscommunication, quality issues, and on-time delivery. 

Proof Approval: The original delivery date can be affected when the customer approves a proof for production, which is held up in the front office (for unknown reasons). 

Change Orders:  If production is halted due to a customer’s change order request, often an alternative delivery date is not provided to the customer for approval (or even mentioned), so the original delivery date is still in effect with no consideration of production timelines for other “now live” projects.

Prepress & Design:  When incorrect print files are given to production (e.g., sizing, cut-file setup, incorrect bleeds, and even typos), the result is wasted time and expensive materials.

The Solve

Pre-Project Meetings:  When appropriate, conducting a pre-project meeting of complex and sizeable projects is valuable.  Production staff will look at the project from a hands-on and collaborative perspective rather than administrative.  It would be best to have their input to avert unforeseen problems and concerns.  They know their equipment capabilities, understand the team's skills, and have an advantage that can save money, time, and headaches. 

Post-Project Meetings: When appropriate, conducting a post-project meeting is invaluable because it engages employees to suggest how the project could have saved time and money. More importantly, the greatest reward is the opportunity to understand better your employees' passions, teamwork capabilities, trade expertise, thought processes, mindsets, leadership control, and communication skills.

Accountability: When we accept responsibility, we must incorporate honesty and ethical conduct into our actions. We must recognize that other team members' performance depends on the results of our work! 

Hey, Owners, Listen up!

Let's take a mental road trip here…so buckle up!

Remember when you decided to become an entrepreneur? Well, revive that passion, that stick-to-itness, and that glow in your eyes that pushed through the unfamiliar to get to the familiar!

Please get back to the basics with your business; you know…when you cared about your employees, and your employees cared about you, and how you valued your customers and they valued you.  What a great feeling!

Don’t sit behind the desk…mingle and work with your employees so you can see what they see and feel what they feel.  Your company will be better for it!

Somewhere along the way, you decided to go along to get along!



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