Everything Changes! Or: Why You Should Print on Demand

 

Everything changes! That’s true of the industry your organization serves, and it’s true of the continuing education (CE) materials that learners use to master best practices and stay current on new innovations that are gaining traction.

Many associations print their CE materials on demand to handle the challenges of frequent changes to content. Few things are more frustrating than having to throw away hundreds of course books (that don’t come cheap!) when content has to be changed. Time, money, and resources were wasted because print runs were set too big.

If only you had the opportunity to do it all over again! Unfortunately, the past is past, and there’s no going back for a second chance. You can, however, take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Next time, print on demand.

When you choose to print your CE training materials on demand, your provider works with you to come up with an estimated number of books you’ll need. As the orders roll in from your learners, and inventory begins to deplete, the provider will notify you.

A microinventory is kept to prevent delay in getting course books out to learners, but there won’t be shelf after shelf of boxes that could go to waste. And while there’s no guarantee that all books will be used before content changes, you can rest assured that with print on demand, you won’t be charged for any course books that weren’t ordered.

Think about that! Won’t you feel better knowing that fewer books are wasted, and none of your association’s money was set aside for resources that your learners never even used?

Everything changes—your CE content, your learners’ expectations, and even the best way to handle your CE training materials. When you partner with Omnipress, though, you can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that you took steps to reduce waste and protect your budget with print on demand.

Print: It’s Not Dead Yet—And It Never Will Be!

We’ve heard it time and again: Print is dead. No one buys paper books anymore. People live online, so there’s no value in printing continuing education training materials. Have you heard the death knell, too?

What do you think? It’s easy for us, as provider of (among other products and services) printed educational materials for training and events, to take the position that there is much to be gained from reading physical books. But we’re not alone.

According to a study out earlier this month from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumers are buying paper books and digital books almost equally ($29.20 annually on paper books vs. $30.18 on eBooks).

According to an article on Vox.com, there are some important differences among age groups. Younger “boomers” (ages 55-64), for example, spend three times as much on paper books as those under 25 do ($40.28 and $12.56, respectively).

Add this to the long list of reasons that print is, in fact, still relevant to your learners of all ages. Ask the next 20 people you see whether they prefer print or digital educational and professional materials and you’re likely to get a mixed bag—some want only print, some use digital exclusively, and some (perhaps most) call on different resources for different circumstances.

To be most valuable to the most learners, your continuing education training content should be available however your learners may choose to consume it. So go right ahead and offer content online; many learners will appreciate the opportunity to review content before the course and refer to it on the go.

Be careful not to count print out too soon, though. It’s far from dead, and many of your learners will find a printed course book or manual to be a vital source for learning, in and outside of the classroom.

Omnipress can help you with online access to training content as well as printed materials, order fulfillment, and inventory management. Partner with a vendor that can help you deliver educational content to learners, in print, online, and whatever format the future brings.

Thinking Globally? Act Wisely!

When your organization’s continuing educations programs are relatively small, filling orders out of the office makes sense. Shipping a few orders of books a day doesn’t seem like a major imposition on staff time, whereas outsourcing print and fulfillment does feel like it would have a big impact on the organization’s budget.

Even as the training program grows, increases in books printed and staff time spent packing boxes don’t necessarily register as pain. Print and fulfillment is something you do in-house, as you always have, and in many cases, a second thought is never given to it.

We find that some associations first come to us for help with print and fulfillment of their continuing education training materials when their reach begins to extend beyond United States borders. Only when the complicated processes involved with international shipping enter the picture do these organizations understand that they need help. Even filling Canadian orders can be a headache.

When is the right time to bring in the experts? That depends on your organization’s goals and your particular situation. If you want your staff to be focused on mission-critical work for the majority of the time, for example, the tipping point might be when one person is spending more than four hours a day packing and shipping boxes.

We have found that many people don’t realize how much time and effort is being spent on order fulfillment of CE training materials. It’s common for us to hear that organizations wish they would have started working with us months—or even years—ago.

If your training program is going international, this might be the right time to consider using a trusted partner for print and fulfillment. But even if you don’t see that in the cards for your association, there’s no reason you can’t also consider outsourcing fulfillment. The process is different for everyone. By the time you start thinking about it, it may already be time to make a change. Reclaim your staff’s time and ease the stress of getting orders out the door.

Stay tuned for information about the Omnipress training team’s trip to ICE Exchange 2014! In the meantime, learn more about fulfillment services here.

Continuing Education Training Print & Fulfillment – Order Processing

After a couple months of “reruns” (repurposed webinars as podcast episodes), Dan and Tony returned to the podcast studio to record the latest episode. They discussed the behind-the-scenes magic that happens between the placement of an order and receiving that order, usually just a few days later.

Dan and Tony begin by defining the audience for the discussion. Training and Development Talk is intended to reach learning, development, and training professionals, and specifically for those who hold face-to-face classes with printed materials. Whether you have a room or a closet dedicated to housing your CE training materials, or you used an off-site warehouse for inventory, if your learners are getting together, in person, for a meaningful learning session, Dan and Tony are talking to you.

Dan defines small order volume in terms of the frequency of the order, not the size of each event. For example, you might have classes with 15-25 participants. That’s fairly standard. The difference comes in how often you ship out materials. Do you send 15-25 coursebooks out once a month? Twice a day? The larger your order volume, the greater the need for other options to deal with fulfillment.

There are three main ways an order is completed:

  1. An order is received by email, fax, or phone. An in-house fulfillment specialist is given the order to fulfill, or it’s sent on to a fulfillment house to complete.
  2. An order comes in through an online portal. Inventory is managed through this system as well. Orders are placed, titles are managed, and print on demand may be a factor as well. Even with these features, it’s likely that the in-house fulfillment specialist will receive an email and is responsible for notifying the fulfillment house to get the order packed and shipped.
  3. An order is placed through an online store or registration system. This process is completely automated. The fulfillment house receives the order without intervention from the organization, which lessens the possibility of error and delay.

Dan outlines an argument in favor of automating the order process. When order data is submitted by the learner, the chance for data error in transmission is avoided, which gives an organization the lowest cost. (Fulfillment houses often charge an order processing fee if either of the first two ways are used.) Automation does require a higher upfront cost, however, so this is often the best choice for companies with a higher order volume.

Technology has helped increase the flexibility between these methods. Often a start-up begins by handling orders internally with a view to hand over those duties to a fulfillment partner as the business grows. We see this especially with organizations that begin to ship internationally, as that becomes much more complicated. If your staff doesn’t have experience with this, it usually makes sense to outsource fulfillment at that point.

Please reach out to us with your thoughts on this podcast. Email Dan and Tony at podcast@omnipress.com or call 800-828-0305 with questions or comments. Please subscribe and share with a colleague!

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