It seems that when we look at the cost of a typical printing job most of the focus is on the actual “print” production cost, when in fact a recent study performed by Infotrends showed that on average only 30% of the total cost is actually the print. The majority of the cost involved in producing a printed document is in the design, collection of assets, edits, revisions, internal approvals and the distribution of the printed product. All of these labor intensive steps need to be calculated into the total cost of producing a document for either online use or for print. The most neglected area of cost consideration is the aftermath of the printed product, how will it be distributed, how will it be stored, who manages the inventory, what is done with left over product, etc.. We will call all this soft cost the “print job management” or “PJM”. (Just what the world needs is another acronym). So when considering the cost involved in producing a document all the PJM costs must be included to realize the true financial impact for evaluating a return on your investment.

One clear way to mitigate the cost involved is simply not to produce the document at all. Well for those of us who have a true internal, customer request or marketing need to produce a document there is the solution of Print-On-Demand. POD (o.m.g. another acronym) can help to cut out much of the soft cost involved with PJM (Print Job Management). By creating a central web portal that houses your documents and allows for document editing, much of the PJM costs will be reduced. Picture in your mind all the steps involved with submitting files, proofing, editing, approving proofs, forwarding emails, securing print quantities, etc.. Now picture taking all those steps away or at least streamlining them into an efficient online work flow. With online print ordering, online inventory management, data list uploads, tracking history, automated PDF proofing are just a few of the tools that will help to reduce that nasty PJM cost.

There has always been a trend to also justify the PJM costs by increasing print run length so there will sure to be documents left over for future use. Well we all know how that goes, they never get used and turn to waste (we have a warehouse of obsolete product to prove it). In a POD program that obsolete inventory rarely happens. You only print what you need with no waste, unless a field rep over orders for a trade show. So now think about the PJM again in relation to the print cost, what happened? The print cost is now actually a smaller part of the whole, but more importantly both expenses are down. The PJM cost is reduced by using an online POD portal and the print cost is also reduced as you will be printing smaller quantities only when needed.

All this food for thought does not apply to every situation but it does apply if you are using repetitive documents of any kind over and over. For the direct mailer who launches one or two large bulk mailings a year this logic does not apply.

So, if I leave you with anything it would be to be careful when evaluating “print” costs and be sure to calculate in all the “soft” costs needed to produce a document. I am sure that if you weigh in all the steps, time and labor you will find that the amount is significant and opens an area for cost reduction discussions.