What is a Print Management Company?

by Rich B

In previous articles we’ve looked at your options when buying print or when you’re looking for a new print supplier – and tried to point out the benefits of each in a very independently-minded way – as we do with all our help and advice on Printing Brain.

It’s worth pointing out again that Printing Brain is brought to you by Webmart Print Management. So obviously, our comments will be influenced by the way we operate. However, we’ll try to keep things, as ever, unbiased and relevant to the print management sector as a whole.

So what is Print Management?
Simply put, print managers do 3 things:

  • Help and Advise you about print.
  • Buy print on your behalf.
  • Manage your print project for you.

Independent Advice
Independent of printing presses that is. Sales people who work for businesses who own their own presses are there to fill the press with work. So their independence is arguably hampered by the fact that they need to keep their presses running 80%+ full to make a profit. Many print managers don’t own presses so their advice can be more impartial too.

Buying Print
Print Managers claim to save you money in two ways:

By buying ‘better’ than you will – getting lower prices from printers due to their buying power because of the amount of work they place.

They should also know which print job should go on which press (and therefore which printers to go to). Putting the right specification onto the right press is vital to reducing spend. We’ll be looking at this aspect more in later articles.

Project Managing
If you’ve been reading the site before, you’ll have an insight into the 1001 problems that can crop up when you’re project managing your print project. Good project managers will avoid them before they happen (or painlessly resolve them if they do happen). See Problem Resolution below.

How to find an Independent Print Management Company
Anyone can set themselves up as a print management company – and indeed they do! Printers, designers, procurement organisations – can all call themselves print managers because they can buy, manage and deliver print. However not all print managers are equal.

Presses
Many print management companies own their own printing presses. It’s key to them to have their presses full so you might find your job going on the wrong press type to get the best quality or lowest price. Independent Print Management companies can shop around to find the right press for your project.

Industry Data

The best print management companies will use market data for everyones benefit

The best print management companies will use market data to everyone's benefit

Because independent print management companies buy print from a wide range of suppliers, the best of them use their purchasing and supply-chain data to reach into the market to find savings for you – and to use the best quality printers and printing services companies.

 

Certification
Applies to printers too, but check your print management partner has the right accreditations – ISO14001 (environmental), ISO9001 (quality), FSC & PEFC accreditations. The quality one in particular means they operate to an independently-scrutinised set of best practise standards.

Sustainability
Reputable Print Management companies don’t screw their suppliers but build relationships with quality printers. This also demonstrates a business in it for the long-term, not short term profitability.

Problem Resolution
When things go wrong – including supplier insolvency – you need to know issues will be amicably resolved on your behalf. The best print management companies (goes for printers too) will have a ‘non-conformance’ log which shows issues that arose, how they were resolved and future improvements made to avoid similar problems arising in the future.

Product Range
And one last benefit of working with a print management company who buys from a range of suppliers is that they can supply you with pretty much anything you might want – from printed promotional items to building wraps to business cards. Many printers may not be geared up to do this quite so efficiently so you may end up shopping around.

We’ll be creating a comparison table between going direct to printers and print managers in the future so watch this space!

And before I sign off, it’s worth pointing out that if you’ve got a great printer that you’re happy with and who gives you good service and price, then stick with them. Building a lasting relationship with a quality, reliable supplier is the name of the game.

 

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