Key signs you have the right print management company in place

 This is brought to you by Williams Lea Tag.

The marketing and communication landscape is evolving, despite most businesses emphasising digital, the demand for print in its many forms has never been higher. As brands look to reduce spend across their support functions, more businesses are looking to outsource their print management. Williams Lea Tag sets out the key signs you should look for in the right print management outsourcing partner.

Leading through innovation

Choose a global organisation that can draw on the full breadth of its scale to optimise the delivery of innovative marketing solutions from both a product and process perspective. Your print management company (PMC) needs to be flexible and scale their solution as your business grows to ensure you gain maximum benefit.

The right print management partner should offer you innovative multi-channel solutions that help you meet the needs of your customers, stand out in a crowded market place and help you retain or increase market share.

Most importantly, you should be able to work consultatively and collaboratively with your PMC partner to identify business challenges and in order to deliver innovative approaches and solutions.

Strong compliance, risk management and governance

Rising compliance requirements and growing cyber-security risks mean that many businesses are finding it increasingly challenging to manage, understand and mitigate compliance risk.

Ensuring your PMC partner has a global compliance programme in place offers protection to your brand in all areas and markets.  A good indicator of stringent compliance is looking at a PMCs client portfolio for clients that operate in highly regulated industries such as the pharmaceutical and financial service industries, as these industries require some of the toughest compliance measures.

Your PMC should have a central support team in place to manage all areas of the supply chain. A strong commitment to CSR is also an important area to look at as it illustrates the PMCs commitment to achieving a positive impact while maximising the creation of shared value for your brand and them. A commitment to “modern slavery” and general worker protection is essential to ensure that their manufacturing sites conform and comply with all legal and social requirements.

External accreditations should also give you more confidence that your partner is able to demonstrate that they are at the forefront of fast-developing and critical business requirements and understand the global demands.

Clean data and management reporting

The data cycle begins at the point of input. It should be a core strength of any partner alongside the safeguards they have in place around how they handle, store and destroy your data. A PMC that emphasises this core strength and rigorously manages data input to ensure the delivery of clean, clear and concise spend and compliance analysis will derive greater value for your business.

Management information is the bedrock of a successful outsourcing partnership as it reduces ambiguity and enables true partnerships to develop. A strong PMC partner should turn spend data into analysis and intelligent insight that can be used for more strategic planning and greater benefit extraction.

Spend intelligence

Multi-client spend consolidation or aggregation has long been the key lever for PMC’s and outsourcing partners – while this remains true; on its own, and without defined management process steps extracting the value is much better in theory than reality.

PMCs that adopt an intelligent buying approach and use clean and live data create demonstrable metrics that explicitly define and measure the benefits of increasing leverage. Your PMC partner should have deep business-to-business partnerships with their supply chain as it ensures greater agility and innovation for your partner to display the same to your business.

A provider with a holistic overview of global pricing will ensure that they identify the best supply partners and therefore deliver value through utilisation of consolidated leverage over and above pure pricing.

Quality assurance and brand management

Your PMC should have independent quality teams in place who use the latest technology to ensure quality and brand are consistently represented to the highest, measurable and most objective standards.

Delivering best value comes with increased risk. Global quality teams both support and measure the manufacturing output – before, during and post production. A strong onboarding process ensures that your PMC only works with suppliers that have achieved stringent quality process and colour entry levels. Your PMC should have an audit framework in place that includes full factory and inspection audits, reducing the risk of sub-quality output.

Your PMC should be able to manage and utilise a supply base in lower cost countries and ensure cost is reflective of your quality expectations.

Supplier management

Look for a PMC with a dedicated supply chain management team, who work with their global compliance teams to ensure all steps are measured and retained within a global repository. This will give you immediate access to complex supply chain analysis that will help you make better-informed business decisions.

It is also important to note that the transfer of risk for the management and financial stability of these suppliers to the PMC reduces your risk exposure. At a minimum, you would expect your PMC to be able to provide quality and audit reporting ownership, management information creation and cost intelligence, and an analysis output centre.

All of these key signs provide clear indication that you have selected a strong print management partner but overall, the most critical thing to bear in mind when it comes to partnering with a print management company is that they should be the right cultural fit with your own business. You need to be able to trust and like them, as only through open and transparent dialogue can a truly fruitful partnership be built.

The writer is Adam Spurdle (pictured), strategic sourcing director APAC.