Walking in a Customer’s Shoes…30,000 Steps at a Time

 

Last week I spent some time in our order fulfillment warehouse, just as I do every week, observing and listening. It’s incredible to watch the team manage an order—from picking, kitting, packing and shipping—with such smooth coordination, like a symphony of movement. And then it dawned on me: our staff is in a state of near constant motion. How many steps do we take each day on behalf of customers? Thanks to the miracle of wearable technology, I was able to calculate the answer.

Our team of fulfillment professionals accumulates an average of 30,000 steps per day. That equates to 7.5 million steps over the course of a year, or approximately 3,750 miles! We are essentially walking from New York to Los Angeles (with over 1,000 miles to spare) each year so our customers don’t have to.

If you’re a Training and Education professional who is tasked with handling your own order fulfillment, how far are you (or your team) “traveling” each year, in an effort to serve your members and learners? How much energy are you expending on non-mission centric tasks such as packing student handbooks, tent cards, pens, and supplement study materials into boxes, and then having to track all the shipments? Not to mention the continuous process of managing the remaining inventory. What if you could re-allocate your time and resources to initiatives that grow your programs, elevate your brand and improve the experience for your learners?

Our customers know that we’ll travel to the moon and back to make sure their course materials are delivered accurately and on time. And now we have the data to prove that we truly will.

Get Back to the “Fun Stuff”

 

Think about your typical workday over the past month. How many of the items on your to-do list were truly focused on creating educational value for your learners? Odds are this number is smaller than you’d like. All those must-do tasks for your organization, like packing boxes, are necessary, but perhaps you wish someone else could take care of them so you could get back to doing the things you enjoy. After all, you joined your organization to do the “fun stuff”: brainstorming new courses, recruiting knowledgeable and engaging instructors and creating course content.

Fulfilling training materials takes up valuable time

For many training professionals, kitting training materials is one of those must-do tasks. Your instructors need these items put together, but actually doing it eats up a lot of your time and energy. A typical kit might include one instructor manual, 20 course books, 20 study guides, 20 exams, 25 Scantron sheets and 30 #2 pencils. If you have to pack up 30 of these kits and coordinate each shipment to a different location, your day is pretty well spoken for.

There are many reasons to outsource your fulfillment, and maybe custom kitting isn’t chief among them for you. But maybe it is. Maybe taking this necessary, yet time-consuming task off your plate would change how your organization thinks about handling print and fulfillment internally. Whatever it is that changes your mind, there will likely come a point when you realize that any money you might save by fulfilling training materials in-house just isn’t worth it anymore.

Your time is valuable. There are few (if any) organizations that have enough human resources to implement all of the ideas and goals the team can dream up. With time at a premium, who wants to spend that precious resource packing and shipping boxes?

Work with a reliable vendor that understands associations

The solution to your problem is finding a partner you can trust to handle these tasks on your behalf. If you have to babysit them, checking at every step that the correct materials have been shipped to the right place, you won’t be saving much time—or frustration.

Working with a talented team of professionals that understands how important your training program is to you—and the necessity of getting things done right the first time—is the best way to ensure that outsourcing your print and fulfillment will lead to the results you desire: less hassle for you and more time to spend improving your training program. You know, the fun stuff.

Inspiration and Integration: ASAE Annual Meeting 2017 Video Recap

 

A number of Omnipress employees made the trek across the border to participate in this year’s ASAE Annual Meeting in Toronto. As usual, it was an event full of informative sessions and great conversations.

Two members from the Omnipress Print and Fulfillment team that attended the meeting, Tracy Gundert and Janel Savich, talked with Dan Loomis about their takeaways from the week and about two themes that came up repeatedly in their conversations: Inspiration and Integration.

Watch the video below to learn a common challenge that all associations face, and how association staff can use “integrations” to make their jobs easier.

 

ASAE Annual Meeting 2017 Event Recap Video Transcript

Dan: So what was the number one thing that you heard from people stopping by, visiting the booth, or just networking and general sessions. What was everybody concerned about or inspired by?

Tracy: I think they all want to provide, all the different associations, no matter if it’s a trade association, a professional association, they all want to continue to improve the benefits for their members. What more can they give their members? How can they really become part of the value that their members receive from being a part of the association? They want to be sure that they are providing that.

Janel: I think that collaboration, getting together with our clients, hearing how our service fits in to meet the educational goals of their members and the people they serve. It’s inspiring!

Dan: ASAE Annual Meeting always brings people together to talk about innovation, and technology, they always do a good job with that. What types of things did they talk about with integration this year, anything in particular?

Janel: They want that ease to have their systems integrated together so they can talk to one another. Make their jobs easier. Pull the information together; get the reports in one central location.

Tracy: Along with talking about multiple partners, that is certainly one thing we heard, even with print and fulfillment vendors is that they want to have one source. Right now, a lot of them have multiple sources where they are printing at one facility and fulfilling out of another facility and it’s just, you know, its not very integrated in terms of the data. And it also creates a lot more time that they have to spend coordinating it, so they are really looking for that all-in-one type of solution.

 

A Member Benefit in an Unexpected Place

One of the questions we hear regularly from customers and prospects alike is, “How are other organizations solving this problem?” So, it’s exciting when we have an opportunity to let customers share their success stories directly with the association community!

State Bar of WI Creates a New Member Benefit

We had a chance to talk with George Brown, Executive Director of State Bar of WI, about the effect partnering with Omnipress had on the organization’s publications. We realized as we began talking that it wasn’t just his staff’s time that was freed up; in fact, working with Omnipress created another, very tangible member benefit. Watch George Brown talk about the value State Bar of Wisconsin was able to deliver to members because of their relationship with Omnipress.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

George Brown: A number of years ago we had a discussion as to whether we were a publisher or a publisher and a printer and we realized we’re really our specialty is publication, it’s developing the product, it’s not printing it and not delivering it.

And so we looked around for a partner. Not just a vendor but a partner to help us on that publication and distribution side. And we chose Omnipress.

This room is actually because of Omnipress because of the relationship we have with you. We were able to. This is actually where the printers were originally, when we knew we were going to shift over to you it freed up space. It freed up all the space in this room and another room across the hall. We call this the war room. The war room is where we can have all kinds of free form discussions. People can, staff or members can hold it for a day, two days, three days. Across the way we have what we call a peace room. It’s a much quieter room, its designed for in-depth conversations with folks and this extra space was really needed because this then frees up space on our first and second floors so that our members now have more space to use. So it really has been a benefit to us as an organization.

Dan Loomis: It is really interesting to hear what people are actually doing with the physical space. You don’t get the chance to hear that very often.

George Brown: Right

Dan Loomis: We appreciate you sharing

George Brown: Absolutely and what it does as a result in order to gain more space we don’t have to put an addition on the building. So the footprint stays the same, the usage of the building becomes more valuable to our members as well as to our staff. So that is really what we’re after.

The Inventory Management Features that Will Make Your Organization More Efficient

 

Before you select an inventory management system, you need to know which features will make your organization most efficient. Watch Dan Loomis explain how two features can work together to make manually counting the number of materials in your warehouse a thing of the past. They can even be set up so that when inventory gets low, replacement copies are automatically ordered. Talk about efficiency!

 

Transcript:

Dan Loomis: Welcome to Dan’s Corner, and today, we’re going to answer some questions about inventory management systems that I get very frequently.

Today’s topic: selecting an inventory management system and a few key features to focus on.

Obviously, you’re going to want to monitor what you have on the shelf.

You’re going to want to see what products are moving and which products are not moving.

And you’re going to want to consider integration with your AMS or any other database or maybe on an online store that’s going to send that order to your fulfillment system.

One of the key features I like to focus on is making sure that you have a replenish point set up and using that system to help manage your time and create efficiencies for your organization.

Let me explain what that means.

If you set up a product replenish point for something that’s sitting on a shelf, the system can automatically notify you via email that a product has hit a certain minimum level.

A key feature that goes along with that is a reorder point.

The reorder point works with the replenish point. When a replenish point is met, so the minimum is on the shelf, the reorder point will automatically trigger an action.

Generally, that action is going to be to reprint a certain quantity.

For example, you have a 200 minimum replenish point. You can set a reorder point of 100, and at that point, 100 quantity will be reprinted and restocked on your shelves.

You don’t have to spend time monitoring the system and putting in another order for a print run. The system’s going to do that for you.

I hope you find this helpful. I’m Dan Loomis, Product Director at Omnipress. Thank you for your time.

Why You Must Be Willing to Allow Your Learners to Learn Anywhere

“Education doesn’t just take place in stuffy classrooms and university buildings, it can happen anywhere, every day to every person.”

-Richard Branson

Richard Branson, Founder and Chairman of Virgin Group Ltd, recently posted this on his blog. Mr. Branson is the man behind lucrative ventures such as Virgin Mobile, Virgin Atlantic Airways and is even working on Virgin Galactic, where he wants to run commercial flights into space. Yes, you read that correctly. So to say he is someone that you should probably listen to, is an immense understatement.

Branson is presumably talking about the lessons we learn every single day as we write the chapters to our great adventure we call life. We all know some of the most important lessons learned in life are taught in moments that we least expect, far from the hallways and ringing bells of a traditional classroom. This is why it is so important for those of you that are in charge of training and educating your members, attendees and everyone around you, to embrace technology and make your training material available in all forms.

Life today has quickly become about accessibility and doing things on the fly, and education is no different. Some people, especially those that prefer to train in the traditional classroom, would like to only have to worry about face-to-face sessions or instructor-led training. But the reality is, for your learners to truly grasp the message and information you provide them, you must be willing to let them take your lessons wherever they please. This is where a Digital Publishing Platform comes in.

 

With mobile phones, tablets and laptops becoming more available, we have the ability to access learning material from anywhere. Which for you as the trainer or session leader, makes things even more difficult because that means you have to have printed materials, a website and a mobile/tablet site, right? WRONG. Our Digital Publishing Platform has the power of Responsive Design, meaning your website appears correctly on all platforms.

Our system can automatically detect which device your learners are trying to access the information on, and will present the material in the best way possible for that device. Meaning your large site with lots of information and images, can shrink down and visually optimize itself when someone is viewing it on a much smaller screen such as a tablet or mobile phone. Don’t ever worry about having to update two or three, or even four different sites if you’re thinking about taking your training material online.

Being a trainer or someone who has the opportunity to educate someone is an amazing thing. Don’t hold your content or learners back any longer. Take your content online with our new Digital Publishing Platform.

No Such Thing as Free Coffee

 

This month marks my 28th-year working at Omnipress. We have a board in the break room that tracks everyone’s tenure, and a co-worker was congratulating me as we filled our coffee mugs. “How many free cups of coffee do you think you’ve drunk in all that time?” she asked. Surprisingly, she does not work in accounting.

But her question got me thinking. First, I wondered “How many times has this coffee maker been cleaned in all that time?” But my second question was about associations. Associations have been around much longer than I have been working here. What are the things that they look back on and say, “Wow, I can’t believe we have done _____ for so long”?

Every morning for the past 28 years, a cup of coffee sounded pretty good in the moment. But when I look back, I start to think, “Hmmm, maybe I should have tried to fill my mug with water a little more from time to time.”

Today’s decisions shape tomorrow’s outcomes

I think associations are a lot like that, too. A new challenge enters their world and they make “in the moment” decisions, which then become “our process”. The process makes sense for that particular moment, but looking back, the picture can be a little different.

When you first start developing continuing ed. courses, for example, it probably made sense to have Judy from marketing handle the printing, packing and shipping of your program materials. But as your list of available titles grow, that “in the moment” decision starts to take up a larger amount of her time every week. Pretty soon, before you know it, you’ve got several staff members trying to solve complex issues like international shipping. Not exactly sticking to their job description which ties their duties to member development.

If you have staff members working on tasks that keep them from your organization’s main goal an hour or two every day, what else does that keep them from working on? Because, after a while, those hours begin to add up. Keeping this practice up over the long-term means that after 10-years you have sacrificed 5,000 hours of your staff’s time to a non-core duty. (And if you want to think about the very long-term, the tasks in this scenario would have accounted for 14,000-hours in my 28-years here at Omnipress!) There are only so many working hours in a year, which strategic initiatives are you not doing during this time?

The accounts payable and receivable in budgeting are important, don’t get me wrong. But to be an effective manager, you have to be aware of the opportunity cost of the projects you decide to pursue. In the earlier example, yes, you are saving money by not having a dedicated staff member or outside vendor handle the shipping of your course materials. But at what price? What is the cost of the time that Judy was not able to actively engage in her role of member outreach? How much of that new member revenue would have offset the cost of outsourcing the shipping of those materials in the first place? And importantly, is your association better positioned for the future with her printing address labels?

Decision time

So, as I look back at the beverage choices I’ve made over the years, I challenge you to do the same. What are the things that your organization is doing today that are the result of strategic thinking that builds upon your long-term plan? Which things are a result of “in the moment” decisions?

It’s not uncommon to realize that many of the things we do today are a result of decisions that were made “in the moment”, based on what felt right at the time. If you could look back 28-years, knowing what you know now, would you make the same decision? Or, instead, how many of your daily duties are a result of “in the moment thinking”, because, hey, the coffee is free?

Book Binding 101 for Conference Materials and Educational Publications

Lesson number one: Saddle stitch has nothing to do with horses or needlework. If you were surprised, please continue.

Whether you’re designing a conference program or syllabus for your next meeting or even a new training manual, there are many different bindings you can choose from. Selecting the best one starts with knowing what they are and when they work best.

 

Plastic Coil Bindingplasticoil-binding

Looks like: Remember the silver coil notebooks we bought as kids at the beginning of each school year? That’s plastic coil binding… Except the only difference is instead of the metal coil, the coils are now plastic.

Why we love it: It lays flat making it perfect for those seminars and training sessions. It allows the user to flip the book in half for easy note taking. They also ship well as the plastic coil is more forgiving than the metal coil. Additionally, plastic coil comes in a variety of colors and has the option to accommodate tabs and dividers.

When to use it: When note taking is key or the book must lay flat on the table. Also, if your room configuration does not have tables, or has theater-style seats with the pull-up half desks. It’s great for those cool conference learning journals that combine the program and pages for note taking.

 

Perfect Bindingperfect-bound-binding

Looks like: Perfect bound books are the soft-cover books from our college days, or the ones we find at our favorite bookstore.

Why we love it: They have the professional look for an affordable price. With the text on the spine, they are easy to find amongst all the other books on a bookcase. Like plastic coil, perfect binding also allows the option for tabs and dividers.

When to use it: Best for proceedings, reference manuals, and educational publications.

 

Saddle Stitchsaddle-stitch-binding

Looks like: Saddle stitch resembles a magazine with two center staples on the spine.

Why we love it: It’s great for lower page counts under 88 pages, and it also lays flat.

When to use it: Conference programs, journals, conference marketing brochures, or other titles that have a limited number of pages. If you desire text for publication on the spine, this isn’t for you.

 

Case Bindingcase-binding

Looks like: The hardcover textbooks we lugged around in college.

Why we love it: Very professional in appearance which normally lends itself to higher retail pricing. It’s ideal for high page counts.

When to use it: Textbooks, manuals.

 

 

Other Binding Types (we don’t favor):

Tape Binding: It’s a lower quality version of perfect binding with a high risk for pages falling out.

Plastic Comb Binding: This is the lower end version of plastic coil spiral binding. Maybe it’s perfect for a college paper, but when it comes to your educational and conference books… It’s “cheap.”

Which binding have you found works the best?

Features Your New Inventory Management System Must Have [Infographic]

Inventory levels. Product history. Shipping Status. Worry-free nights.

If you’ve ever been personally responsible for fulfilling orders for your training materials, you know one of these items does not go with the rest.

An Inventory Management System can help manage some of the issues that lead to sleepless nights by helping you find the answers to questions like:

  • How many publications do I have in stock?
  • Are any of my course books on back order?
  • When did my orders ship?

But before you choose a system to implement, be sure it includes these five must-have features.

 

Must-Have Features of Inventory Management Systems

Continuing Education: Why It Starts with a Conversation

Continuing education for many associations is at the center of who they are. It’s a way they provide their training and publication materials to their members, so truly, it allows that organization to provide the most value they can. It’s also an avenue for delivering non-dues revenue, which is important to any association. If it weren’t for continuing education, many associations wouldn’t be able to separate themselves from the other organizations like them out there.

Unfortunately, print and fulfillment of continuing education materials is typically one of the biggest pain points for organizations that take part in it. Most organizations are simply not set up to handle the amount of materials required to support the volume of courses they offer. Not to mention the task of packing them into boxes, and send them out in a timely fashion. They quickly find that they’re wasting valuable resources that should be focused on what they were truly hired for. Some of the people we have worked with have described it as “a necessary evil,” or something they must do in order to satisfy the student and/or instructor, but something that they know negatively effects the daily work of their staff.

I’m a firm believer that organizations have a great opportunity to be able to continue to offer their high value materials to their members, but also eliminate the hassle and utter discontent within the organization that print and fulfillment may be causing. The approach that we take, isn’t to simply complete a proposal and sent it their way. That’s simply an order taker, not a partner.

The best way is to start a conversation, and not just about your print and fulfillment process, but about your organization and its goals. If we can get a better idea of what your organization sees as a future path of success, and what the fundamental values that you uphold, it quickly turns into a true partnership. Those values that you hold true are absolutely important in the print and fulfillment process, and without knowing that, we’d be doing you an injustice.

A print and fulfillment partner that you’re considering should do three things when you first reach out:

  • Ask questions: This is one of the most important parts of the process. The print and fulfillment vendor should be asking you questions. So many questions that you feel like they know your process better than you do; because they should!
  • Challenge your current process: If a potential partner you’re considering simply duplicates your current process, what good are they really doing you? During the question asking process, they should discover inefficiencies or areas where best practices could be applied. They should be the expert and once they learn about your needs, they should provide a cost-conscious plan of attack.
  • Get to understand your intentions: Without understanding the real purpose of why you are printing and fulfilling materials, they have no idea the value you hold in those materials. For most organizations, their training and publication materials are some of their most valuable assets. It’s important that your new partner fully understands that value.

So what do you think? Is it time for a conversation about your continuing education materials? If so, let’s chat now!

Managing Your Print & Fulfillment Challenges

Every day, you experience small victories and challenges at work. Vacillating between highs and lows is part of your life, career, and, as a microcosm of the bigger picture, every single workday.

What frustrates you about handling the print and fulfillment of your continuing education training materials? What do you find to be easier about the process? How can you limit the former, while building on the latter?

In a 2014 survey of training professionals (view the infographic here), we learned that associations are challenged with:

  1. Managing frequent content changes.
  2. Determining print quantities for new courses.
  3. Utilizing the best price per unit without overprinting.

Omnipress can help you with all three challenges, turning frustrations into tasks that no longer require quite so much of your attention or worry. Let’s unpack that a little bit.

Managing frequent content changes means updating your printed materials, which can be costly and wasteful—if you choose traditional, larger print runs. If you print on demand, however, small quantities are produced and just a microinventory is kept on hand, saving you money and resources.

Determining print quantities for new courses becomes easier when you work with professionals who have experience doing just that. Omnipress project managers work with training professionals like you every day and have a good idea of what might work for your association. If you’re uncomfortable relying solely on intuition, just ask for advice!

Utilizing the best price per unit without overprinting is a matter of balance between print on demand, which helps to prevent overprinting, and large print runs, which ensure the best price per unit. The Omnipress team can help you balance your association’s needs.

Learn how we helped one association reduce their print and fulfillment costs by 60%! Could we do the same for you? Can we help turn your daily frustrations into wins, because you don’t have to worry about them anymore? There’s only one way to find out—reach out to us and get the conversation started!

Achieve the Happy Medium: Outsourcing Fulfillment of Your Corporate Training Materials

When you decide to outsource a task, you may want to maintain some control over the process—without having to do it yourself. At the very least, you’d like to remain aware of what’s going on.

This is true when it comes to print and fulfillment of your corporate training materials. The idea of having a trusted partner handle this on your behalf is attractive; packing and shipping boxes is not your idea of a good time, or even a productive workday.

On the other hand, you’re not entirely comfortable leaving this task to anyone who might not have your best interest in mind. Part of the reason you hadn’t outsourced this process long ago is your commitment to delivering not just course books and manuals, but also your organization’s promise of quality and timeliness. Leaving this in the hands of anyone besides you and your colleagues feels disingenuous.

The best choice is to find a happy medium—a process you don’t have to implement yourself, but can follow closely to make sure your learners’ needs are met. When you partner with Omnipress for the print and fulfillment of your corporate training materials, you have 24/7 access to standard reports so you can stay in the loop. Custom reports are also available to meet your organization’s specific needs.

To learn more about Omnipress’ complete suite of services for corporate training programs, download our whitepaper—Simplify with an All-in-One Partner: Best Practices for Continuing Education Training Materials. Give it a read and let us know what you think in the comments!