Key Learnings from In-plant Print Center Insourcing Interviews

As I write this blog, I am completing a series of interviews with in-plants offering services to outside companies (insourcing) for an upcoming article in In-Plant Graphics Magazine (IPG). I vividly remember the first time I heard the term insourcing, because I struggled to figure out what it meant. I found it counter intuitive until someone explained to me that insourcing was the opposite of outsourcing.

In an IPG article entitled “The Insourcing Opportunity” published in March 2008, editor Bob Neubauer talked about the steady increase of in-plants offering insourcing services since 2004. In this article, Neubauer reported in-plants insource approximately 5% to 10% of their work. The latest IPG survey found that approximately two out of three in-plants insource an average about 13% of their revenue from insourcing.

One of the surprises from these interviews was the length of time different in-plants had offered insourcing. Some have been offering insourcing for decades, while others have just started. Both Richard Beto at the University of Texas at Austin and John Sarantakos from the University of Oklahoma talked about selling externally for almost two decades. In contrast, for John Oliger at Modern Woodmen of America and Leslie Blagg from the County of Placer located in Auburn, California, it was a relatively new idea.

Two things discussed by many were the importance of building an infrastructure and the critical need for sales. Several people talked about the importance of having a Web to print solution to make it easier for customers to order and to automate billing. Danny Kirkland from HealthSouth talked about the importance of having a print MIS system to measure and report productivity.

While everyone discussed the importance of sales efforts, there was no consensus of opinion about who should be responsible for sales. Several managers accepted the responsibility themselves, others assigned the responsibility to their customer service reps, and one in-plant dedicated a sales person and a customer service person to outside sales.

Two people interviewed discussed the strategic implications of insourcing. John Oliger at Modern Woodmen talked about being a good corporate citizen and not competing with local printers. Dwayne Magee from Messiah College discovered that insourcing helped him better strategically align with the mission of the college.

This will all discussed in greater detail in the article appearing in In-Plant Graphics Magazine later this year. Keep your eyes open for the article, “Ten Lessons Learned about Insourcing.”

About the Author:

Howie Fenton is an independent consultant and trusted advisor to in-plant printers. He recommends equipment, best practices and workflow automation tools to streamline operations. To learn more about measuring performance, benchmarking to leaders, and improving your value e-mail Howie@howiefentonconsulting.com.

Leave A Comment