NPF Offers Session on Outsourcing…or Not?
Of the three work sessions I attended Tuesday, May 8th, at the National Postal Forum in San Antonio, TX, How to Outsource Print and Mail Operations drew the most attendees. Tina Dickens, Agency Mail Manager and Scott Mastie from Ricoh drew approximately 45 folks.
When asked how many were outsourcing part or all of their print and or mail operations, nearly all the attendees raised their hands. Of those who didn’t raise their hand and hadn’t outsourced, most indicated they were considering the option.
This response was unexpected. I was expecting the majority to indicate they were considering the option and wondered if they were already outsourcing, why attend a “how to” session?
While not emphasized, I found it refreshing to hear Scott caution the audience they should think hard about outsourcing if they are just “getting rid of a problem or trying to save money”. Scott made it clear that any email address ending in .com is a money-making organization.
A video highlighting the Jackson 5 singing “ABC” suggested outsourcing is an easy option (as 1, 2, 3) for decision makers. Contract management, in many cases, is as easy as putting a contract in place. However, neither presenter emphasized the need for the vendor relationship to be managed. They did say it is important to have someone in the organization with mail expertise. They referred to this person as the mailing SME, Subject Matter Expert. Presumably, it is your mail expert who can hold vendors accountable using Key Performance Indicators included in your contact.
The suggestion that outsourcing can preserve or even enhance the relationship between your organization and the USPS was lost on me. As a mailer, you are a customer of the USPS. You can join the local PCC chapter to network and strengthen relationships but you don’t need to outsource your services to get better service from the USPS.
Outsourcing can be, but isn’t always, a good option. To use the presenter’s words, “If you don’t know what you don’t know,” you won’t know any more if you don’t have a SME. This is an excellent contract to hold the vendor accountable.
I might have hoped that the presenters suggested independent consultants advise clients on a course of action rather than suggesting that a vendor has all the answers. A consultant, without bias, would uncover if you could save money. Outsourcing or improvements can be made, no matter the size of your service group.
For those moving forward with outsourcing, Ms. Dickens suggested the U.S. Government Publishing Office, GPO, can help write and select a vendor for mailing services.
One final note, despite the billing in the program guide, neither presenter discussed outsourcing print.
Richard Beto, Director – The University of Texas at Austin
Richard Beto is Director of Document Solutions for The University of Texas at Austin. He has held his position since May, 2004. He currently manages more than $9 million operating budget and works with 50 employees while providing offset and digital printing, as well as mail services to UT and Texas state agencies.
Prior to arriving in Austin, he had served his alma mater, West Virginia University, for 24 years. His last role there was Director of Printing Services. He holds a BS degree in Journalism and Masters Degree in Public Administration.
“Without Promotion, Something Terrible Happens – Nothing!” – P.T. Barnum
In-Print Printing Award Winner 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
IPMA Member Since 2009
IPMA Mail Center of the Year 2013
IPMA Print Center of the Year 2015
IPMA Best of Show Offset 2017