Pros Outweigh the Cons in Print E-Procurement

In today's market, corporations cannot afford to overlook the value a complete print e-procurement program ? the managing of the entire process of ordering, printing and delivering materials online via Internet solutions ? can have on their bottom line.

An end-to-end solution provides a faster, more accurate and cost-efficient method of procuring a corporation?s printed materials.

Despite these benefits to companies, the print industry faces many challenges in getting print buyers to adopt online technologies as a solution to manage their printing needs. Transforming any industry from an analog to a digital world faces barriers from the start. We saw it with the move from typewriters to PCs and from film cameras to digital photography workflows. The result will be just as dramatic in e-procurement.

The print industry is trying to establish trust, shift paradigms and drive adoption of new technologies. Another challenge includes creating awareness among corporate executives that printing is an area where the shift to new technologies can have an immediate affect on their bottom line. What is less known is that when executed successfully, online management and procurement of printed materials can enhance a company?s effort to establish and maintain graphic integrity and brand consistency.

About 3 percent of a company?s revenues are spent on the execution of the brand in printed materials, according to some marketers? estimates. With many corporations decentralizing operations, the potential for increased spending as a result of issues such as brand abuse or the arbitrary bending of brand rules for logos, signage, e-mail signatures and other forms of corporate messaging is a harsh reality.

Corporations have voluminous graphic manuals, filled with pages and pages of specifications dictating graphic and brand rules. Yet, employees still bend the rules. Who can blame them? To avoid the hassle of the corporate procurement process, they become maverick buyers of local printing services.

Some employees do not recognize the need for consistent fonts, colors, papers and other design elements; others forget details, such as changing a street address on both the letterhead and the envelope after a move. And others make mistakes struggling with an unfamiliar and unwieldy process of submitting materials for printing, reviewing proofs and making corrections by fax or by hand. All of these issues translate not only into brand abuse, but also into wasted dollars for the corporation.

To resolve these issues, companies can look to an e-procurement solution to streamline the process. Implementing a print e-procurement solution means using a customized, secure Web site containing a digital catalog of custom-printed business materials that ties in with existing e-procurement systems to order, manage, print, proof and deliver materials direct to their door. Only then can corporate customers begin to realize minimized brand abuse, improved workflow processes and reduced costs.

Driving this process to the desktop gives corporations more control and allows them to enforce purchasing and brand rules for every piece of printed material the company produces. No more inconsistent fonts, paper or forgotten details. No pages of specifications to thumb through. A change only needs to be entered once to cascade down to every printed product, because the specifications are there in an online database.

Regardless of which printer fulfills the order, the specifications are exactly the same. That online database also solves the problem of handling printing jobs from its offices worldwide. Any employee anywhere can order corporate printed materials with the correct graphics, text and other branding elements with a Windows-based Internet-enabled personal computer. This saves corporations time and money by controlling the quantities people can order and ensuring consistent price across the organization.

When an employee submits a request for a new printed document, he provides the necessary information, then receives instant proofs online so they can be reviewed and modified easily and quickly from the desktop. The e-procurement system also eliminates typesetting and prepress manufacturing steps by providing printing vendors with print-ready files routed into their printing systems. This cuts down on printing errors and the accidental branding inconsistencies that could hurt a company?s image?-resulting in cost savings to the corporation.

Print e-procurement will eventually be seen as an instant way to shorten amortization cycles, increase return on investment and produce net savings within months of implementation. This movement towards implementing print e-procurement is the stepping-stone for enormous market opportunities.

CAP Ventures, a leading print research firm, projects that more than $113 billion per year will be spent on print procurement through Internet-enabled processes by 2005 – about six times the $19.5 billion seen today. Corporations that recognize this need for change will be the ultimate winners.

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