Author Archives: Debra McMahon

About Debra McMahon

Debra McMahon is a founding Partner at R3D2 Consulting. R3D2 advises commercial printers, in-plants, outsource print and mail providers, and fulfillment companies. Using a proven hands-on process optimization methodology, R3D2 client companies develop a culture of repeatable and sustainable process improvements, through assessments, training, and implementation. Deb has over 25 years of experience in the production of marketing and customer communications, in companies ranging from small, privately-held and entrepreneurial, to large and public. Many of those years were spent running Operations in companies that produced multi-channel direct marketing communications, critical mail, and transpromo communications, or in companies buying those component services. Deb has presented at a variety of conferences on continuous improvement. Contact her at

To 3D or Not To 3D – Is it Time for That Question?


In a recent Wall Street Journal, I read an article about Intel preparing to launch a paid Internet video service with set-top box, and a separate article about Comcast buying the remaining 49% of NBC/Universal that it did not already own, from General Electric Co.  The Comcast story made the front page; the country’s largest cable company, a distributor of content, now fully owns and controls some content as well.  The strategy behind this move may ultimately prove to be successful, or maybe not, but it seems logical.  More interesting to me was the Intel story.  How does this make sense?

A company that rarely markets to consumers enters a substantial field of competitors looking to transform the television watching experience, profitably, of course.  There are the expected features, such as a programming interface that makes it much easier to find shows than existing guides on current set-top boxes from other providers.  Intel’s set-top box, powered by Intel chips, then goes farther.  It will include a high-def video camera and facial recognition technology to know who is watching the TV, and adjust programing appropriately.  So Intel is taking its chips, and is venturing into new-product territory with their core technology as a part of it.  Seems risky, but I get the connection.

These seemingly incongruous marriages got me thinking about our industry, and about any connections to be made to the hot “new” technology, 3D Printing.  A challenge, though, is that 3D Printing has mostly really been 3D Manufacturing, referring to the layering of something that is generally not ink onto itself, and sometimes onto something else that is generally not paper.  The term “3D Printing” already seems to have as many meanings as the term “Fulfillment”.  Available right now, 3D printing devices include prototype makers and on-demand manufacturing devices for auto parts, prosthetics, and more.  Jay Leno owns one to print some hard-to-find parts for his car collection.  The vision for the not-too-distant future of 3D Printers range from life-saving, (medicines and organs), to, well, just goofy stuff.  Some of the materials used in currently available 3D Printing devices are ABS plastic, epoxy resin, silver, titanium, steel, wax, and now . . . paper and ink.   This got me back to thinking about our industry, where significant substrate, ink, and color knowledge resides.

An Ireland-based commercial 3D printer manufacturer, Mcor Technologies, has created the IRIS 3D printer.  I learned about it through various reports that Staples intends to use it to offer 3D printing this year, starting in Belgium and the Netherlands.  According to Mcor’s website the device cuts regular A4 office paper to form 0.1mm layers. Photo-realistic color printing of each sheet can be done in over a million colors, using CMYK, with resolutions of 5760 x 1440 x 508dpi using their color technology.  Each printed sheet is then glued to the previous to form a “printed” object with a hardness similar to wood. The technician removes the surrounding support paper from the object.

Do those of you involved in a transition from black and white document printing to color, or from static color to production variable color, remember thinking at first that it would be a piece of cake; that running a high-volume roll-fed color inkjet printer would be just like the printer on your desktop, except, well, bigger?  Strong knowledge of paper/substrates, ink and color are critical to shortening the learning curve on these new technology implementations, and many of us took advantage of and appreciated the training provided by our printer manufacturers.

Unquestionably, using ink and paper to create (fill in the blank) is a very new subset of 3D Printing.  Can you see a market that can be served, or a product that would be valued by current or new customers, to augment your current offerings – perhaps point-of-sale pieces?  Can the knowledge and experience of your staff, those who understand paper, and ink, and color, become a foundation for your company’s expansion and diversification?  Can the color experts you have on your team designing for, or those running that wide-format inkjet printer, be able to apply these skills to new areas? The process you use for the assessment of and integration of new technologies is critically important, and should be rigorous and well-defined.

So, Intel has the chip in the set-top box for their video service; does your company have a core competency, or foundation for expansion or diversification into 3D Printing?  Is it the right time for printers to start looking at 3D as part of a broader offering in the future?  What are your thoughts?

Debra McMahon

R3D2 Consulting, LLC

Don’t Just Do It


When we talk about helping companies with process improvement, people seem to think it is not very exciting.  Something that is incremental, or, in other words . . . slow.

Some companies like to buy their process improvements – just get a new piece of equipment, and it will force some internal change while providing a new product or service or higher quality or faster delivery, or . . . lots of other things that don’t actually happen easily.

New equipment and new software tools are the cool stuff; we can show “products” or output to our prospects and customers.  Our sales team gets it, and our customers get it.  We all “get” what we can hold in our hands, or see on our screens, and even the self-proclaimed non-technical among us get the benefits of having software tools that enhance or accelerate our delivery of products or services to our customers . . . and sometimes at lower prices!

We put a shiny new full color roll-fed inkjet printer the size of an Airstream travel trailer on the floor, and we have samples of the great quality and talk about how fast we can deliver to our customers.  Or we get a mail sorter, even bigger than the printer, to reduce postage costs.  You can walk a customer around these things and show them the commitment and the investments the company is making to support them.

Many companies create great plans for the acquisition and integration of software or hardware to provide new products or services.  The plans include an ROI that seems quite reasonable. Almost inevitably, the upstream or downstream requirements or impacts are not entirely understood or represented in the plan.

These other “mini-projects”, (if you’re lucky they are mini), require resources in people or skills that are not available, or maybe resources you don’t even have.  The project plan grows.  The implementation date moves out.  You find yourself to be stuck – either due to the lack of the right resources at the right time, or due to paralysis as you try to assure you now address every opportunity, risk, and option you can imagine before proceeding one step further.  Minimally, you find your implementation to be taking much longer than you expected, and the ROI not kicking in as you’d planned.

So, back to process improvement.  A critical but often overlooked component of process improvement is making decisions about what NOT to work on, what investment NOT to make, if you are not ready.  Do not bring on a piece of equipment until the resources are available to transform the existing printstreams to take advantage of the capabilities.  Don’t invest in software to provide new services until you have a specific vision based on what your customers would value, and what you can deliver to them, and staff with the skills, or staff available to be trained.  And those other projects that you ARE ready for?  They’ll get done much faster, because the resources are not distracted.

Human beings tend to be oriented to eat the whole elephant.  Make sure there are short term wins you can see, as well as milestones on the way to meet the long-term goals.   Don’t just do it.

What Makes a Great Company?


Do you know which stock is the top performer of the past 25 years? Guess again. (You said Apple, didn’t you?) After you’ve exhausted your list of high-tech guesses, I will point you in the opposite direction. Think nuts and bolts. Fastenal, a hardware supplier founded in 1967, is up a staggering 38,565 percent since the market crash of 1987. Lagging far behind at 9,906% and 5,542% respectively, are Microsoft and Apple.

So why, in The Digital Nirvana, am I talking about a hardware company? Like the printing companies and mailers of all sizes striving to become “marketing services providers”, Fastenal’s products are not in the least bit exciting, but are necessary, just as printing and mailing are still important components of marketing communications strategies. Unlike many of those printers and mailers, Fastenal, with its low-tech products, is consistently growing revenue and is consistently, respectably, profitable – the stock market does not respond with such enthusiasm to “just okay” companies.

For printers and mailers challenged to transition to being marketing services providers, presumably requiring less big hardware, (and square footage), and more robust software technology and new skills, here is a very successful company to examine and compare to.

If you are unfamiliar with Fastenal, as I was, much of what we believe we know about successful businesses today would compel us to make some assumptions. Surely it is internet-based with strategically placed warehouses and sophisticated inventory and distribution management software and systems, right? The reality is the opposite, at least the “internet-based” part; we’re talking serious brick and mortar – stores in all 50 states and internationally, and several manufacturing sites around the country. The company focuses on the customer, and being close to them. Its innovations, quality, and process improvement efforts are customer-centric. It has enjoyed consistent revenue and profit growth and is as efficient as it’s ever been. The robust continuous improvement culture even includes providing process mapping and process improvement support to customers, as well as being a key part of internal operations.

So, do printers and mailers have to completely abandon their roots in favor of new marketing communication channels in order to be relevant in this age of declining paper-based communications? It would seem not – nuts and bolts are not sexy. But this example would suggest that there must be a continuous commitment to understanding what the customer needs, a vision of solutions to meet those needs, investment in appropriate technology, and a structured ongoing process improvement effort to achieve the necessary efficiencies to be cost competitive and profitable over the long haul.

There are certainly no big surprises here, but it’s good to be reminded that there is no silver bullet, and a successful company is the sum of many parts. Being a process person myself, I was very happy to see how important and integral process improvement appears to be for this company. Process improvement drives efficiency, eliminates waste, streamlines operations, and supports effective integration of new systems and technology, resulting in lower costs. It can be an integral component of greater success for the companies that embrace and commit to it.

Driving Out Waste for a Better 2012


I was looking for some inspiration in this New Year; a way to look differently at the world of process improvement that I live in. I especially wanted to make it relate better to those that are often the most difficult to convince of the desirability, even “good-ness” of processes, those in the “front end” of a business: customer service, purchasing, IT, project managers, estimators, salespeople, designers, marketers, etc.

I use some great tools and a great methodology for business process improvement, and the reason that I like them is that they are simple. It does not mean that they don’t take some time and effort to use effectively and gain the maximum benefit. Everything worthwhile takes a certain amount of commitment.

I grabbed a book off my shelf that I had not looked at in a while. It is an old book, in business book terms, but it has not aged. It is called “Simplicity: The New Competitive Advantage in a World of More, Better, Faster”, by Bill Jensen. I randomly opened to one of the many pages with a corner I’d folded over and came across this:


Guess again. Think practical . . . think sewers. Thanks to the Seine, the Romans called Paris Lutetia: City of Mud. French novelist Victor Hugo devoted 15 pages in Les Miserables to Paris’ sewers. Why? More growth, more waste. And at some point, waste removal had as much impact as social, cultural, and political forces.

“. . . At some point, content becomes waste. So content design has to include waste removal. Have you designed a sewer system? Is the process for getting rid of content as easy as flushing a corporate-wide e-toilet? . . . Without hassle-free procedures and tools, you are forcing knowledge workers to swim in their own waste.”

Well, that paints quite a picture for me. In process improvement, efficient elimination, (no pun intended), of the superfluous, outdated, and difficult is as important as the improved process itself. Every day, when they see barriers, people use workarounds to get things done in their jobs. Sometimes these workarounds, shortcuts, and “stealth” actions have become, in fact, the best ways to accomplish certain tasks. It’s up to those of us who facilitate process improvement to recognize and coax these informal improvements out of the shadows in the corners, be happy that improvements are happening around us, and rapidly flush the old processes down the corporate e-toilet.

Processes, done well, simplify.

We all need a jump-start now and then. What are some sources of inspiration for you in driving out waste or improving processes in your area of your company?

Simplicity Begins With Ugly Pictures


Several years ago, Rob Carter, CIO of FedEx, looked out at the web of mind-numbingly complex systems around the company, and knew they were not sustainable. Some came from mergers and acquisitions, some were developed internally, and all were “necessary” to various business silos around the company. He knew it would be a tough job to demonstrate the seriousness of the problem, gain the support of business executives, and create urgency. In a “Mastermind” interview at last week’s Gartner Symposium ITxpo, Mr. Carter spoke about the transformation of IT at FedEx.

The difficult challenge he faced captured my attention, especially his comment that “I’m a big fan of ugly pictures”, to explain complex problems. From experience, I am a big proponent of mapping processes, (which generally results in a pretty ugly picture), as a basis for identifying and prioritizing opportunities for business improvement, as well as being a catalyst for generating creative solutions and high-level support for resources. Would the “ugly pictures” help Mr. Carter to show all the business executives at this very large organization the ramifications and future consequences of continuing down their silo’d paths?

The “ugly pictures” he created were maps of the spaghetti bowl of the entire FedEx IT infrastructure, including the total counts of all the applications, platforms, databases, HR systems, interfaces, tracking entities . . . you get the idea. He used the attention-getting ugly pictures and compelling stories behind them to get agreement and support from the top that a lot of time and money were necessary investments to avoid the time bomb lurking in the increasing system complexity.

FedEx proceeded to create a completely new IT strategy by “. . . decomposing the business into foundational services. Who is a customer? What is an address?” All the businesses had their ideas of an “address”, and had their own address databases, so instead of “knocking heads” trying to choose which of the existing systems is best, the company started over. They identified and solved for 22 core services, such as label services, address services, and location services, that really matter to the “simple” business of “picking them up and putting them down”, as Mr. Carter described their transportation business. Over time, interfaces fell away, some apps were no longer necessary, and a simpler, services-focused IT infrastructure resulted.

Have you or someone in your company created your own “ugly pictures” to help to re-focus, and simplify systems or processes? What did you focus on? What were the results?

A Tangled Web: USPS, FedEx, UPS


I drove past my local post office yesterday morning, one that is not closing, as far as I know, and noticed a FedEx drop box about ten feet from the main entrance door. It was clearly on USPS property. Or rather, on my property, and your property. I never noticed it before, in the way that many things that are a little out of place are invisible until you need them, or your brain has a spare moment and recognizes them. So as I ran my errands, I arranged to pass a couple of other post offices and found the same thing –FedEx drop boxes lined up next to the Express Mail box and regular USPS mailboxes.

This reminded me of our collective reactions at shows like Graph Expo as the major equipment providers, many with competing hardware or software or services offerings, began to populate each other’s booths as part of “solutions”. Often we did not know whose booth we were in. At the time, this blew our minds.

Of course, there are collaborations – or contracts – between the USPS and the private package delivery carriers already in place. The USPS Global Express Guaranteed service is the USPS’s “fastest international shipping service with transportation and delivery by FedEx Express”. And UPS Returns Flexible Access uses the USPS Parcel Return Service combined with UPS’s own delivery network.

These collaborations appear to leverage the strengths of each organization. The USPS, however, with its monopoly, (or responsibility), for First Class Mail and Standard Class Mail, is left with the less profitable deliveries of the carriers’ packages in out-of-the-way locales. FedEx and UPS are clearly dependent on the USPS for final delivery and pickups of packages in remote areas that are, of course, routes covered by the USPS.

The USPS must continue to focus on performance improvement in its core areas of responsibility – First Class and Standard Mail, but it’s time for the USPS to start thinking about “solutions”, and “collaborations” in the true sense of those words, to help promote its own sustainability instead of mere survival through cost-cutting.

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Do your suppliers make the grade? Do you?


In this economy and with all the pressures, are your key suppliers delivering the performance you expect?  Have you run into any of these issues:

  • Inconsistent quality throughout a production run or from shipment to shipment?
  • Product not packaged or labeled as specified?
  • Quantities are short or there are excessive overruns?
  • Late deliveries?

 The impacts to your company are bad enough, affecting your costs due to rework, inspection, or slowdown in production, but the real and lasting impact is failure to meet your customer’s delivery or quality expectations. You may also be paying too much for materials, which of course comprise a very large percentage of the total cost of print or mailings. Do you know if your costs are competitive?  If not, it contributes to loss of sales opportunities for you.

These are just a few of the purchasing and supplier challenges facing organizations today.  What can you do about it? Do you change suppliers?  Add extra inspection to your process?  Changing suppliers frequently or taking other actions internally are costly solutions.  A more effective solution is to implement a rigorous supplier scorecard process.  This provides a mechanism for objective two-way communication that can strengthen mutually beneficial relationships, and make both companies better.   

Implementing a Supplier Scorecard

The basics of setting up a scorecard are relatively simple – decide what you want to measure, and the relative importance of each factor.  Review any current issues and performance problems, as well as customer-identified quality expectations, and these become your measurement factors. Take the time to think about what happens to your organization if the standard is not met.  Then establish a simple ranking of 1 to 5 on worst to best. 

Once the scorecard development is complete, communication and training come next.  Communicate the goals for the supplier scorecard both internally and to your suppliers well in advance of the first evaluation.  The communication with suppliers may clarify or establish clearer expectations than existed before.  It should also open the door to regular feedback from the supplier on what you and your company may do differently to enable them to more effectively meet your requirements. Scorecards should be reviewed quarterly or at minimum twice per year or you won’t get a balanced picture or have opportunities to make course corrections.

Top-level reinforcement of the importance of fair, accurate, detailed, and timely input to the scorecard is critical.  It must be clear that the scorecard does not, of course, replace the need for timely resolution of any specific issue with a supplier, but it provides visibility into overall performance and trends that need to be reinforced, or corrective action initiated.

In addition, if you are penalized for failing to meet standards with your clients, any suppliers who contributed to that failure should also be held financially accountable. However, penalties are not the goal, they are just more enforceable with clear communication and measurement. The benefits to this best practice will be trusted suppliers you can count on to make your business run optimally, providing you with pricing and quality that make your end product better which in turn gives you an advantage over the competition.  Just firing poor suppliers who don’t “make the grade” makes it more difficult and costly for you to make the grade with your clients. Knowing who you can count on every day, as well as when you have a critical need can be a major advantage.

Expand Your Sales without Expanding Your Sales Force


There has been evidence in many companies that the state of the economy is improving, however the pressure to feed the sales pipeline will never lessen. Businesses have always placed a premium on the sales effort and on accomplishment in bringing in more revenue.  Even when there is “no hiring” going on, most companies would bring on a strong salesperson, as an addition or a replacement.  The burden to nurture and grow relationships, as well as to bring on new customers, falls on salespeople.  That is their job, right?

When the sales pipeline stalls, what do you do?

There are other important relationship touch-points in your organization.  Customer service, purchasing, estimating, and production can all help to generate revenue through a well-designed and implemented Change Management process. 

We have seen a single production facility increase revenue through existing customers by slightly over $1 million in one year.  This was done with minimal additional cost to operations by capturing revenue for work already being done, which resulted from program or project scope changes.  “Minimal additional cost” makes this high-margin additional revenue.

The keys to a successful change management program must begin with a commitment from the top of the organization.  Without senior management support and involvement, change management will fail. The first step toward a change management program is a well structured and documented Statement of Work, (SOW), as discussed in a previous post, which documents the baseline specifications and expectations for both supplier and customer.  

A change communication and approval process must be implemented very carefully, working closely with clients and sales to assure continuation of good client relationships.  Clients need and deserve clear explanation when an established formal or informal process or unwritten “rules” are affected, and to understand that there can be benefits for them.  They have the opportunity to make their own internal process improvements which could help make them more efficient, (and enhance your relationship with them), and avoid some additional costs due to changes that could be avoided if addressed up front.   

Next, a process for identifying and capturing variances from the SOW as work progresses must be created. Clear responsibility for identification and follow up for every step of this is critical.  The process must include a quick assessment and calculation of the impact to project cost, and a decision about whether this is chargeable effort.  If a charge is warranted, sales and the client are notified of the impact to price and schedule, and client approval to continue the work is required. 

If change management has not been part of the way you do business, it will take persistence, time, and inclusion of your clients to make it a successful part of your standard operating procedure.  The benefits are well worth it. A recent client of ours, a multi-site provider of Direct Marketing and Critical Customer Communication Services, achieved over $370,000 of high-margin revenue in the first nine months of change management process implementation; this included the time to develop and establish the process, and train all the associates. 

I will be presenting a case study on this initiative at the Document Strategy Forum on September 14 in Chicago. I would also be happy to provide a the presentation after the conference – you can request it through our website at – but I hope to meet some of you in Chicago and answer your questions directly.

Doing More for Less: Mystery of the Vanishing Profits


In today’s competitive environment, most of us are faced with three major factors impacting our profits: more capacity than work, aggressive pricing to get the sale, and our client asking for additional features or benefits after the project is booked.

In the typical scenario, sales works hard to bring in opportunities, and estimating cuts the price to a minimum profit margin to try to secure the work, and if you’re lucky you close the deal.

But then the fun really begins as you start to work on the project and realize there is more to it than you thought. Maybe a lot more. 

It may start very simply and innocently – changing a few words in the copy, a couple of line-break changes for better layout, and the next thing you know you’ve happily agreed to move the mail date up by three days.  Whatever the request, the result is the same – you do the extra work, (incur cost), to keep the client happy, (loyal?), and it eats into your narrow profit margins even further.  If you do not have a detailed activity-based cost system, the total impact of small, incremental changes, or even larger ones, could go unnoticed.  At the end you look at the financials and wonder where the profit has gone.

One way to change the trend is to implement a Statement of Work, (SOW), for every project – even small ones.  Make sure the statement of work reflects all aspects of the project: data, composition, print, finishing, distribution and reporting.  You will get push back that this is too much work and slows down the sales process, but in fact we have seen over and over that making the effort up front can significantly reduce delays in the contracting and production of the project, and the clarity it provides saves time, (cost), for both you and your client. 

The statement of work would be provided to or reviewed with the client to confirm that you and they are in agreement as to the scope of the work.  Ideally, the client and you sign off on the SOW when the pricing is finalized and the purchase order is provided. Track the actual work performed against the SOW and make sure the changes are documented so they can be considered in repeat or similar future work.  Communicating to the client the changes and additional work being performed can minimally be used as a way of creating good will and improving the relationship, but can also be an objective way of identifying and communicating additional costs.  You decide in advance of discussion whether these are costs you wish to pursue with your client.  Most importantly, you know that the work and costs exist. 

This may seem simple and obvious but we have found time and time again that even if there is a Statement of Work process in place, it is used inconsistently or steps are left out.  Most often, the closing review of a project is left undone, as we have moved on to focus on the next project.  So the next time you wonder where profits have gone, take a look at your SOW process.

You Landed the Big Deal, so Everything is Wonderful … Right?


So, you’re one of the smart ones. Or one of the lucky ones . . . You’ve secured a big new client, you’ve got a three year contract, and the daily mail production volume actually turns out to be as much as they said it would be . . . sometimes more. You leased the latest and greatest high-speed inkjet imaging equipment with in-line finishing, and a couple roll-fed inserters, and they’re about 75% utilized by the work for this client. You’re meeting your SLAs, mostly, (there are days with big volume spikes), you’re making good money, and even getting paid for recycling the paper waste! Life is good.

You’re walking the production floor, smiling, remembering the intense, long hours and the crunch of getting the programming done to meet the client’s drop-dead start date – and then the next version came in, and then the next. The file formats were different, the documents were different, and your team just hunkered down, not sleeping much for about a month, working with the client on specs, coding, testing, proofing, and finally getting five versions into production.

As you walk, you take a look at the quality of the imaged rolls waiting to be loaded onto the inserters and are satisfied. You look around and see the paper waste in the gaylord containers for recycling. Wait – how many of those are there? You see the skids with the cores from the paper rolls for recycling – most have a couple inches or more of paper still on them. Holy cow! They’re everywhere!

You turn to the inkjet/finishing system and watch the operators thread 60+ feet of paper through it, which you are pretty sure you saw them do about fifteen minutes ago, and wonder – how good are things really – and how good COULD they be?

We see so many companies in which teams of people, having completed the hard work of getting their client’s complex projects up and running smoothly, heave a big sigh of relief and move on to the next project for the next client. Rarely is there the time or ability to plan and develop the most optimum, efficient production process out of the gate. But you can apply some disciplined methods for improvement post-implementation. Usually, there is a motivating factor, such as wanting to postpone additional capital investment.

For example, I recently worked with a client who had an ongoing group of projects, produced and mailed daily, that was growing and had volume spikes. The client wanted to ensure that they could support continued growth without adding equipment capacity. The daily production run was comprised of five separate variable data files, formatted for print and delivered to the print queue. A print operator would select a file to run on one of two high speed roll-fed two-color inkjet print devices. After printing, the rolls were moved to roll-fed inserters for finishing. The following baseline data was collected for the current state:

  1. Threading a printer required sixty feet of paper
  2. Set up time was just under one hour for each file in the print department
  3. Additional set up time was required at the inserter to set up each print roll

After examining the processes and requirements for the printers and the inserters, my team determined that with minor programming and process changes the files could be combined/stacked in the print queue and run in one continuous run without set ups between them. Two banner sheets were programmed between each file to assure separation at inserting. The solution was tested and new procedures developed and staff trained.

As a part of the process review, testing was done to determine how closely the paper roll could consistently be run to the core, without adversely affecting printer and inserter quality and productivity. Based on this testing, new standards were set and the operators were retrained. Some paper inconsistency issues were identified and were subsequently addressed and resolved with the paper merchant. Paper consistency can have a huge impact on efficiency.

Following the initial testing, additional jobs were identified where similar or the same file separation conditions existed. Metrics were developed to continue to track the Key Performance Indicators, (KPI’s), and both hard cost and soft benefits.

The results were immediately visible:

  1. Hard cost savings in terms of material, consumables, click charges, and labor costs in excess of $20,000 per month on the test job were documented.
  2. Overall production cycle time was reduced.
  3. On-time delivery was improved and;
  4. An additional four to five hours of combined printer/inserter capacity were gained per week on just the initial test job!

Getting these results does require some effort – gathering and assessing baseline data, motivating a small team to identify and test possible process improvements, and measuring results of the changes made. But, with a committed and interested management, this can become a way of doing business, not an exception effort, and create an improvement culture through all levels of the company.