This case study focusses on a financial services client that had a large print spend across both operational and marketing areas of the business. The supply chain was fragmented and consisted of a number of print manufacturers with direct relationships and design agencies who were sub-contracting the print to a combination of alternative print manufacturers and print management companies.

The Challenge

The client was a large, financial services provider. Over the years the internal stakeholder managing print had frequently changed and there were numerous problems identified by the client with how the print category of spend was being managed.

There were a number of inefficient internal processes due to lack of technology being introduced from the supply chain, the print quality was variable across the supply chain, there were no documented brand guidelines, the service levels from the suppliers were considered poor by the client and there was no cost transparency at all behind the prices being paid. In short, this category was in a very immature state and the client recognised that they needed some strong commercial support.

The client emphasised from the outset the importance of working with high-quality suppliers particularly due to the regulated environment which the client operates in and the fact that the vast amount of printed material was customer facing. Their brand was very much front and center of their mind on this review.

In trying to summarise these challenges these were as follows:

  • Quality of service – this was considered poor by the client and variable at best.
  • Quality of printed material – again variable across the suppliers and impacting on the client’s brand.
  • Processes – labour intensive and no technology deployed from the supplier base.
  • Costs – not consistently competitive and no transparency in terms of how they are generated.

In the initial meeting, we asked about the appetite of the client to consider every alternative strategy available and they agreed the need to explore all viable options ahead of the most suitable category strategy being selected.

Based upon the challenges identified above it was clear that a very detailed category review was required to conclude with a market leading print supplier being appointed. The client sensed the current approach in this category was not aligned to best practice but wanted ourselves to validate their thoughts and explore and deliver the optimum category strategy for the client.

The Challenges

  • Frequent internal stakeholder changes
  • Quality issues on a regular basis with service and product
  • No brand guidelines
  • Processes very traditional, inefficient and costly
  • Reduced speed to market
  • No transparency around costs

Our Strategy

From the outset, it became clear that there were a number of strategies open to the client. Examples included print managers vs print manufacturers, single supplier vs multi suppliers, artwork to be included or excluded, on-site service or off-site service, etc.

With this in mind, we decided with the client to engage in a number of pre-tender meetings to fully explore the benefits and risks of each approach and to engage with references from each potential supplier at this stage. The investment at this stage of the review proved invaluable in terms of the knowledge gained and the strategies explored.

Once we had a clear understanding of the strategic options available and the benefits/risks of each from a number of perspectives in conjunction with a clear understanding of the current service we agreed with the client a high-level strategy which would transition them from working with a number of suppliers to a potential supply chain of one for both operational and marketing print.

The tender was an incredibly detailed process with an extensive amount of work being allocated up front to ensure that all the product specifications were accurately represented and were accurate. In addition, we had to consider the range of print runs to be quoted and of course, it was key that the right suppliers were engaged in the review. During the tender process, an extensive amount of information was shared by the client (under NDA) to enable the suppliers to put forward their best proposal based upon timely and accurate information. We took a central role in providing this information and acting as the only point of contact for any supplier questions to keep the disruption to the client at a minimum.

Upon receipt of the tender responses, a detailed category report was drafted by ourselves for the project team and sponsor which led to subsequent presentations being held which we fully facilitated to ensure the client has every opportunity to explore all key components of the supplier’s proposals.

Ahead of the presentations we developed and pre-agreed with the client an evaluation criteria which was used by all presentation attendees to ensure we all consistently reviewed the key elements (e.g. company profile, service quality, product quality, technology, innovation and risk, and costs).

The Strategy

  • Challenge the current way of thinking
  • Schedule meeting with market leading suppliers
  • In the meeting discuss alternative strategies pre-tender
  • Evaluate the risk/benefits of each strategy then tender the selected option
  • Select a strategy
  • Run a robust tender and evaluation process

Our Solution

Following a comprehensive tender process, the category solution agreed with the client was to award a 2-year contract to a leading print management provider who could consolidate the management of the spend and deliver enhanced service and product quality in conjunction with the significant investment they had made in both technology and experienced print personnel.

This new strategy was to reduce the client’s supply base to a single supplier and deliver both account management and artwork service on-site at the client’s office. This allowed for maximum integration between the supplier and the client which proved to be invaluable as the supplier quickly attained a very good working knowledge of the account and developed good stakeholder relationships.

Almost immediately, the company saw significant operational improvements from a ‘best-in-class’ provider and the relationship was quickly positioned as a strategic one with the emphasis on improving the client’s service whilst looking to reduce costs on an ongoing basis.

From a cost savings perspective, the savings to the clients were in the region of 35% on a like-for-like basis without reducing the quality of print or substrate. These savings were purely delivered from the reduction of unit rates and modifying print runs to ensure the print runs were relevant to usage.

The appointment of the supplier should be seen as the start of the journey to get this category under management with the output being consistently high levels of service and continually reducing costs.

The Solution

  • Award a 2-year contract to a leading print management provider
  • Partnered with a provider who could consolidate spend
  • Operational service improvements delivered through technology
  • More experienced personnel from the supplier
  • Significant cost saving of 35%
  • Potential to evolve specifications to make further savings

Business Benefits

The success of this review has been based upon the successful relationship and ways of working which we developed with the client.  From the initial meeting, it was important to agree on clear roles and responsibilities and objectives for the review. The document we created out of this meeting became our ‘guiding light’ on this review.

Aside from the significant benefits mentioned in the solutions section of the case study we also led the drafting of the supplier contract to ensure that all commitments made by the supplier were captured including the service specification, the service level agreement, and the key performance indicators.

Whilst the cost savings were important and impressive the value that the client most received from the review was by working with a ‘best-in-class’ print management provider who was motivated to demonstrate the value they could add. This value was captured in experience, technology, service standards, quality of product and was significantly enhanced by their clear motivations to work in the client’s best interests.

In terms of costs whilst a 35% saving was implemented this saving will continue to grow as product specifications are challenged and by focussing on print vs digital execution options which the new supplier can provide the client with.

The Benefits

  • Sustainable and significant cost savings
  • VAT efficiency benefits
  • Improved brand compliance
  • Wholesale review of all print collateral
  • Spend consolidated to one source
  • Further savings to be generated through the life of the contract
  • Significant supply chain consolidation
  • Improved service and technology
  • Improved supplier management processes
  • Internal process savings

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