Print managers must look for a new raison d'être
By Darryl Danielli Friday, 22 June 2012
The print management model is broken. Discuss.
Okay, that’s a gross oversimplification, but one of the topics discussed at the recent IPIA conference was the changing role of print managers.
It’s generally accepted the raison d’être of print managers was, in essence, to buy print at a lower price than a client could directly, most often through economies of scale, but sometimes through simply beating up printers (metaphorically speaking, of course). Yes, good print managers also focussed on customer service and simplified, more efficient buying processes – but clients were lured, in the first instance, by cost savings.
But as the PM sector waxed, and printers’ margins correspondingly waned, it became increasingly apparent that the old model only had a finite lifespan before the only margin left to cut belonged to the print managers themselves. So, the smart players evolved into other services and broadened their offering to offer value and service rather than just cost savings.
The smart printers who worked for them also evolved and began to focus on the type of jobs that they produced most efficiently and therefore still made an okay margin on, rather than trying to do everything and justifying the ‘loss-leader’ jobs as the necessary pain to win the more juicy work – only to find that before too long they were only left with the loss leaders.
Which brings us to the present day and the question, ‘What’s next for print management?’ The answer is evolution, specifically survival of the fittest. Good print managers are here to stay; the bad ones will go the same way as their printers’ margins – down the toilet
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