Printers have known the advantages of outsourcing for years, in two broad ways. One strategy is to expand a shop's capabilities by outsourcing print jobs that can't be done in-house. Checks, premiums, envelopes, labels and more can be offered to the printer's clients without the need for investment in specialized printing and bindery equipment.
The second strategy for outsourcing has changed dramatically with the industry. Many print veterans, especially in the metro areas, will remember regular operational items such as printing plates, film stripping services, color separations, and bindery work as items for routine outsourcing. Some shops did little but put ink on paper; the rest was outsourced. Other ‘printers' are brokers who outsource everything except answering the phone. Digital printing and advances in offset printing have made most of this obsolete except for bindery services.
Overlooked Areas for Outsourcing
So outsourcing is familiar to the industry, but there are other opportunities for outsourcing that are not so obvious. A short list: website work, market research, data entry, database updating (do you really ever get around to that?) bookkeeping, copywriting, programming, article writing, tech support, customer service....the list goes on.
One key to exponential growth is speed of implementation, according to Dan Kennedy. If you get more done, and do it faster than your competitor, you will grow faster and be more profitable. "Fail faster, succeed sooner" a concept attributed to David Kelley, founder of IDEO, means you also get your mistakes out of the way faster and on to your successes quicker. After all, we ARE going to make mistakes so we might as well dispense with them as soon as possible!
As we grow, for instance, the administrative demands grow. One way to deal with it is simply to work more. But this slows our growth because other higher priority tasks are not getting done as we deal with administrative work. Then when pushed to the limit, perhaps we hire administrative help. Outsourcing is a tactic that should be added to our arsenal-not to replace hiring, but to add to it. No matter how slow or how busy you are, how over or under-staffed you are, it will get almost any task done faster if you add outsourcing to the mix.
Some popular resources for outsourced work are elance, rent-a-coder, oDesk and Intelligent Office. If you have any type of work backlog or have projects on your wish list, you can get all or parts of it done through one or more of these companies.
There are other benefits to outsourcing:
- You are not tied to any one employee or company. You literally have thousands of assistants at your disposal to accomplish work of any complexity, for any length of time.
- You have access to specialized, highly qualified help you might not ever consider hiring. Engineers, scientists, programmers, IT people, artists, and more.
- Costs are lower than hiring a full or part time staff member.
- Risk is minimal-your exposure is limited to what you spend on the outsourcing.
The takeaway point: look at your printing or bindery business with fresh eyes. Are there opportunities for reducing your workload and getting more done, faster?