During a presentation recently, I saw someone in the audience roll their eyes when I started talking about strategies to increase productivity. I asked them why and they said they could not afford to invest the years in time or million dollars in expenses required to increase productivity. Other members of the audience agreed, talking about million dollar presses and quality programs such as ISO or Lean.
I countered that, while it’s true that some strategies are time consuming and expensive, many others are not.
For years we have been discussing four basic strategies for increased productivity. We use an acronym called STEP, which refers to staff, training, equipment, and procedures.
We often find that there is more than one way to increase productivity, each with its own costs and benefits. The STEP acronym makes it a little easier to talk about the costs and benefits of each possible solution. For example, many companies complain about how long it takes their prepress department to fix files or more accurately preflight files, identify issues, and repair files.
- In terms of equipment, there are software strategies that can be used either in web to print solutions or preflight software solutions that can quickly and easily preflight files.
- Some companies choose to hire additional staff for preflight responsibilities.
- Other companies might try to train their customers to submit better files, or submit more complete files before they get to the prepress department.
- Some companies have specific procedures that they use to help customers better prepare files, identify problems more quickly, and automatically repair files.
Each of these has their own cost-benefit analysis. In terms of initial implementation costs, procedural solutions and additional training cost less to implement compared to equipment and staffing solutions. In the long term however, ongoing quality programs such as ISO and Lean and ongoing training can cost more then equipment and staffing solutions.
The good news is that all 4 strategies increase productivity and reduce cost. Which STEP are you pursuing?
For more information about measuring performance, benchmarking against leaders, and overcoming print production issues contact Howie Fenton. For 25 years, he has focused on helping in-plant and commercial printers measure, identify and overcome operational issues. For more info, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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