Why some jobs go abegging?

‘Thinking away from the trodden path,
printers need to go beyond CMYK’

While interacting frequently with printers as well as print buyers certain amount of unhappyness is seen among them owing to not giving due importance to certain issues. Print buyers express their low satisfaction level from some of the printers. P&P felt that in most of the cases, this problem is imaginary and could be solved with little understanding and efforts by taking just a step forward. With interactions and write-ups in our magazine, the woes of printers are well-known. But what it is in the minds of print buyers? Searching for answers, P&P team could stop at NK Ramprasad, vice president—print procurement and logistics at Citibank, Chennai. Here is a brief about his experiences of dealing with printers and some of the suggestions from his side. Good Quality, Timely Delivery and Reasonable Price are the basic requirements of any print buyer. Having printing background and practicing logistics solutions, NK Ramprasad revealed certain important aspects of the expectations as a seasoned print buyer with 26 years experience, including: step into the shoes of a print buyer, develop lateral thinking, build a relationship, be proactive, be honest about your limitations, right pricing, reveal your capabilities, and be prepared to take risks, etc etc.

Getting into the shoes of…

The shoe pinches once you take yourself as a print buyer. Then you would know automatically his requirements. You would know that he does not just buy your print but something beyond that too. The appreciation comes when you have done the thinking for him rather than expecting to get all ideas from him.

Developing lateral thinking…

With lateral thinking, there is a possibility other than usual. The clock wounds in forward direction but in some cases it has to count backwards like in traffic signals and rocket firing. So, a printer should think away from the trodden path how to do a job efficiently and quickly following the parameters set by the print buyer.

Building a relationship…

Be in regular touch with your print buyer. You would get a chance to see the MSL (warehouse) for replenishing of regular supplies at his place. May be a different kind of job is waiting to be executed for which he requires your ideas. Do not restrict yourself to be a service provider but one step forward, be a problem solver. It is not that just you follow the instructions but think beyond that. If anything is not correct, defective, impossible or a better way of doing a job than the instructions/specifications given, point it out fast.

Becoming proactive…

Being cognizant of the technical developments and the availability of better or different type of materials in the market, the printer can find a way to use them for benefit of the print buyer. There is a need to be communicative in this regard. A special coated paper may eliminate additional step of lamination. A special type of ink may replace the usual CMYK. Give a new look or luster to the job. In the long run, such ideas may prove economical. Like CtP has eliminated so many steps in plate-making, there are such possibilities in other areas too. Sell that idea; print buyer will buy for sure.

The straight advice may be considered by some as a routine and tested one. But it is not, as we have the case studies by Ramprasad proving to be contrary, compensating their weakness.

Case Study 1: Printer A easily agrees to reduce the price from an offer received from printer B. To a query by Ramprasad why it is so, the printer replies because the others do the same. He chided him and said rather he could offer some value addition in the intrest of the job, which could be accepted in genuine cases.

Case Study2: One printer got stuck up at the delivery end. When questioned, he put the blame on his employee for not taking care of the availability of some packing material. This was according to Ramprasad hiding the inefficiency of operations but advises to guide the employee to maintain a delivery schedule for sure by keeing regular check about the availability of such materials much in advance.

Case Study 3: A particular job required a 10-digit numbering unit. Many printers did not want to invest in such specialised equipment for the sake of one job. But one printer took the initiative and invested. In course of time, the demand for such job increased and the said printer was the sole one to be alloted those jobs.

Case Study 4: A particular printer maintains a dedicated proof reading department and points out the mistakes (left in the copy) to be corrected and thus gets preference for all such jobs to be executed error-free.

Ramprasad was also engrossed in pointing out the deficiencies as he feel sorry for such printers losing specialised jobs which may not be alotted through tendering process. Printer’s responsibility is simply to follow the instructions/parameters strictly and any deviation will result in paying the price. But there are always a few printers who take advantages of accepting and executing these kinds of jobs.

On asking by P&P, as how he feels the importance of a ‘contact person’ of any press, who is interacting with print buyers on day-to-day-basis? Should he or she be a printing technologists too? Ramprasad replied, “Definitely, we have press representatives coming to us, as we rarely go to presses. This person has to ‘act’ as a print buyer when at the press and to ‘act’ as a ‘printer’ when with us. He/She has to be of such a personality to grasp the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. That person is the link connecting the both ends of the bridge: the print buyer and the printer. As far as qualifications, that person need not necessarily possess a technical knowledge but at all costs, should be smart, have effective communication skills and understanding print-buyers expectations.”

Now, the printers are moving to suburbs away from the city limits. Does it carry any inconvenience or deficiency in their services? “Certainly not! We also give jobs to far away places like Gurgaon, Kolkata, Hayderabad, Bengaluru and Mumbai. Our remote control system works perfectly. So a printer moving to suburbs from Chennai city limits is not at all a problem,” he conveyed.

So, we have seen as how a printer is expected by a print buyer to perform, to accommodate and cooperate, and avoid jobs going abegging.

Group Publications