Print procurement – Centralising a decentralised function

Ideas abound about the benefits of centralised procurement. So why do so many corporates struggle to achieve these benefits in the tough environment that has prevailed since 2008? Christian Bell of POINT SA, exhibiting at SmartProcurement World 2010, says that centralising a print procurement function is a good plan, not a day dream, in this month’s SmartProcurement.

With print being up to 3% of all spend (according to Aberdeen); it should be a high priority area. Moreover, with proven savings locally in excess of 30% why are the corporates not beating down the doors of print managers?

Is it an issue of staffing, or more importantly not having access to highly skilled staff with print knowledge? Maybe corporates simply don’t know how much they spend and from which area within the business? Or possibly the issue is that print is simply an ownerless category falling somewhere in between Marketing and Procurement, says Bell.

“Multiple discreet ordering on a huge and often unknown vendor base leads to overstocking, inconsistent quality and specific localised shortages and stock-outs”, he says.

A good starting point is to define what we mean by print.

“Often corporates define print as business cards, posters, flyers and brochures. I don’t agree. Print management covers so much more that this and would also include labels, outdoor signage, free standing units (FSU’s), customised packaging, fulfillment, transactional print and annual reports,” explains Bell.

The most proactive executives have already started the process of placing a spotlight on print and are achieving remarkable savings. They have engaged with expert print managers, centralised the procurement process and are achieving, in the cases of Absa and Unilever’s local partnering with POINT SA, 32% and 34% respectively.

8 Top tips to assist with the process of centralising print procurement

1 – Engage with a proven print management company that can bring the experts on site and extend your procurement capabilities. By design, print managers centralise the process.

2 – Identify key stakeholders internally who will help run the process and who will help drive compliance.

3 – Identify the key areas of spend, ensuring this goes much wider and deeper than simply the marketing department. Training, learning and development, transactional departments, corporate and social responsibility and corporate affairs all typically have large spends.

4 – Separate direct and indirect procurement.

5 – Separate design and creative from procurement. Ensure that the agency or creative services partner does what they are most skilled in. Bringing the procurement piece in-house will derive significant financial savings.

6 – Use an identification code on each item so that print which is bypassing the system may be easily identified.

7 – Ready the business for the issues and headaches of change management. Traditional procurement methodology is being replaced with a more transparent and open process, this will cause confusion and resistance from some staff. Keep focused on the end game and these staff members will fall in line.

8 – Do not procrastinate. Corporates do not need to know the ins and outs of every cent of the spend. The print manager and intrinsically its software platform will start to create this management information. If there is no benchmark to work from don’t panic. Start engaging with a print manager sooner rather than later and the first year’s data will be in before you know it.

POINT SA will exhibit at this year’s SmartProcurement World conference and expo at Gallagher Convention Centre on 16 & 17 November 2010. POINT offers Print Management Solutions for South Africa and is the appointed print specialist service provider at Absa and Old Mutual.

For more information on print management services contact Christian Bell at

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