“Outsource” Is Not a Four-Letter Word

When you hear the word “outsourcing,” what comes to mind? A call center in another country? Americans losing jobs? Sometimes that’s the case, but not always.

For training companies and small publishers, the purpose of outsourcing is to allow the proper use of internal human resources. If you’re printing books and fulfilling orders in-house, your employees are doing busy work, not business.

Imagine how your organization would grow if you stop printing and shipping out books on your own, and redirected those employees to tasks that help you build your business. Most companies, whether you provide materials for sales training courses or homeschoolers, have more ideas than they have time or resources. Freeing up employees for more meaningful, mission-driven work can help bring more of those ideas to fruition.

Question your assumptions about outsourcing, and you’ll find that this can be a good thing for your organization and its employees. Trusting someone else to manage print and fulfillment doesn’t mean you have to let employees go; no one has to lose a job. This is simply a matter of redistributing staff time.

Skills needed for print and fulfillment are often more complicated than they first appear, especially if kitting, multiple delivery locations, and international shipping are involved. Using a partner with expertise in these areas, like Omnipress, will alleviate the burden on your staff and increase the likelihood that training materials will arrive as your requested, on time, and to the correct location, with the right course books and training manuals.

Outsource is not a four-letter word, unless you work with multiple vendors. The time and frustration you’ll experience trying to juggle more than one fulfillment vendor might make you feel like using a few four-letter words of your own. Instead, turn “outsource” into a productive, cost-saving phrase: S-I-N-G-L-E P-A-R-T-N-E-R.

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.

Yes: We Can All Get Along

When everybody gets along, life is better. When you work with people that actually like each other, the workday is more pleasant. If you regularly enjoy fun times and few conflicts with friends, your social life feels fuller and more satisfying. This extends to companies as well; if a restaurant and its suppliers have a good working relationship that feels fair and balanced, both parties can relax and focus on other goals, like preparing a tasty, fresh gnocchi dish.

And “everyone” doesn’t even have to be people—it can be systems, too. If you make a change on a mobile device, and it carries through when you check out the same program on your laptop, you don’t have to do the same thing again and you can get on with your day. Many a workday headache is caused by systems that don’t “talk” to each other. Add manual data entry (that wouldn’t need to be done, if systems worked together) to the mix and frustration ensues.

If your organization holds continuing education training, your learners may order course books online. Then what happens? Is your eCommerce store connected to the order fulfillment system? Or do you have to manually enter the learner’s order into a different system to alert your fulfillment house that a new order came in?

Omnipress’ order fulfillment system works directly with your AMS or class registration system. If a learner signs up for a CE training course and orders a book, that information can automatically be sent to Omnipress for fulfillment. Your organization can run reports at any time to check on inventory, order status, and package tracking, but the intermediate step of entering the order information—that has already been entered by the learner—can be skipped entirely.

Streamline your order fulfillment process by partnering with Omnipress for print and fulfillment of your continuing education training materials. For examples of how we’ve helped associations like yours, read the training case studies, found in the Our Work section at Omnipress.com.

Training Materials From the Mother“ship”

When organizations use a printing partner for their continuing education training materials, many of their issues, from titles taking up residence in their much-needed office space to countless hours spent away from mission-centric work, are resolved. Learners receive the correct materials on time, whether they live down the road or halfway around the world.

When learners receive the shipment, though, often they wonder what in the world they ordered from Omnipress. The name doesn’t look familiar to them because they feel a connection to the association, not its printing partner. Once the box is opened and the contents are revealed, all is well.

More than once, however, we’ve received return shipments of materials sent to the learner, correctly. Because Omnipress is an unknown commodity, the package was not accepted.

Maintain your branding and limit confusion with a new offering available to Omnipress customers! Organizations can now add a logo to the shipping label of materials printed, fulfilled, and sent by Omnipress. Learners will know the books they receive have come (though indirectly) from a source they recognize. Your brand will extend to the outside of the packages learners receive. This is what we call win-win.

To get started, contact Omnipress to discuss print and fulfillment for your continuing education materials. If you already work with Omnipress, contact your project manager and ask about adding your logo to the shipping label for a low, one-time set-up fee.

Shipping continuing education materials with your logo for quick and easy recognition, while still not having to deal with printing, filling, or shipping your orders, sounds like the best of both worlds to us, and to many of our customers. Join them!

For more information on this new offering, contact Omnipress today.

Is It Time to Break Up With Your Fulfillment Vendor?

Your fulfillment vendor is the linking relationship between your organization and your members or customers. If your members receive their orders late, or receive the wrong order altogether, it’s your fault in the eyes of your customer (even though your fulfillment partner is actually at fault).

But how do you know when the time has come to consider a new fulfillment company? With so much invested in one (or a few) fulfillment partner(s), this is a HUGE decision to make.

What are the warning signs you should break up with your fulfillment vendor?

3 Signs Your Organization Needs a New Fulfillment Vendor

  1. You’re not communicating. Since your fulfillment vendor is the link between your organization and your customers, it is critical that they are keeping you informed of any problems. If one of their printers is down, if a customer gets the wrong order or if they lost an order, you should be the first to know. What’s more, your customers should not be the ones informing you of these problems.
  2. Your fulfillment vendor does not treat your product as their own. If the company fulfilling your continuing education materials or publications is shipping out books with missing pages or incorrect covers, they are clearly showing a lack of concern for your product and a lack of respect to your organization. These careless mistakes are a direct representation of your organization’s brand. Is this how you want to be represented?
  3. Your order fulfillment process causes you a lot of work. Getting your training materials or publication orders filled should not mean manual labor for you. If you’re sending your orders via email or an excel spreadsheet to your fulfillment vendor, you’re already doing too much work. You should be able to automatically send orders from your online store directly to your fulfillment partner in XML format. It’s not as difficult as you might think.

If your fulfillment vendor is causing you more harm than good, it may be time to break up and find a new one.

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