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.

6 Reasons You Should Print Training Manuals on Demand

When you prepare to print training manuals for your association’s continuing education courses, do you struggle with choosing the number of initial copies to print? All the historical data in the world can’t ensure that you won’t waste time, money, or paper on books that no one will use. Choosing to print training manuals on demand, however, can solve these problems.

When you print training manuals on demand, you can rest assured that amount of that waste will be kept to a minimum. Here are six reasons to choose print-on-demand for your organization’s continuing education materials:

Update content easily

How long does content in your industry remain current? Some organizations can effectively use large print runs because the content in their training materials doesn’t change much year-to-year. For other organizations, particularly those in highly-regulated industries and in STEM, content is updated more frequently, meaning the potential for material waste increases.

Lower overhead costs

Start-up costs for large print runs can be prohibitive or, at the very least, frightfully expensive for some organizations. Print-on-demand requires a smaller initial investment, keeping overhead low. Having less of your budget tied up in printed materials also leaves you free to spend capital on other projects to improve your continuing education programs.

Reduce guesswork

Inventory management becomes easier when you keep a smaller number of books on the shelf. Print-on-demand solutions often create a micro-inventory that feeds orders as they come in, and more books are printed as needed. You’ll know exactly how many books you have in-stock, removing the guesswork from the process.

Minimize waste

When you keep a micro-inventory instead of a large quantity of books on the shelf, you reduce the risk of having to toss out hundreds of materials when content is updated or a class is canceled. And, even better, your organization is only charged for the number of books that were sold from your micro-inventory, saving you extra money.

Eliminate back-orders

Learners can get frustrated when they are unable to order materials they need for a class because you ordered too small of a print run initially. Using a print-on-demand model eliminates this scenario entirely, saving you from the trouble of dealing with back-ordered books.

Improve turnaround time

Even when dealing with the most experienced print vendors, large print runs require a certain amount of lead-time to complete. Print-on-demand requires less set up and fewer resources, making turnaround much faster.

No two organizations are the same—your reasons to print training manuals on demand may differ greatly from another organization’s. What is clear, however, is that print-on-demand works well for many organizations offering continuing education courses, and it might by the right choice for you, as well.

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.

 

Bringing Unintended Benefits to Your Association

Some of my favorite stories to tell are the ones about positive, unintended consequences. You know, those unexpected benefits that come about after making a decision based on a different, well-thought-out reason.

When I talk to associations about making a change to their training fulfillment workflow, the business case usually revolves around re-allocating resources and using in-house staff more efficiently. These are tangible effects of outsourcing and are easily quantifiable. On a recent customer visit, however, I learned about an unintended benefit to their members and staff that was a direct result of their action.

The State Bar of Wisconsin recently made the decision to outsource their longstanding inventory warehouse and fulfillment service. The business case for their decision revolved around the cost savings and staff resource efficiencies as usual. But what they found once they no longer needed to store all of their materials in-house, was that they had a large portion of their building that was now freed up for another use. This unintended result led them to question how this space could be used to benefit their employees and members.

To date, The State Bar of Wisconsin has remodeled a portion of their now-unused warehouse and mailroom to serve two new roles: a multi-purpose conference room and an employee lounge. Dubbed “The War Room” and “The Peace Room”, respectively, these areas are available to staff to use throughout the day. In addition, the multi-purpose conference room is available for members to reserve for neutral-site meetings and to use as a location for videotaping interviews. The association continues to explore innovative ways to use the additional remaining warehouse space in the future.

“But Dan,” you may be saying, “my members are from all over the country. How does this story apply to me?” Good question! The goal of sharing this story with you is to spark a thought. To create one of those “I never thought about it in that way” moments.

As your association begins to make budgeting decisions for next year, keep in mind that not every decision’s impact is strictly dollars and cents. Perhaps your current space limitations are prohibiting your goal for next year of adding extra staff. Or, maybe you are looking for ways to move your staff to a smaller building and need to reduce your square footage needs. Including some of these unintended benefits into your planning process can provide you with the results you need to make your organization operate more effectively.

If you’ve outsourced your warehouse or fulfillment services in the past, what did your organization do with the extra space? Did you find any other unexpected benefits of moving those services out-of-house? Please share your experiences in the comments!

You’re Not That Unique: Printing & Fulfilling Your Organization’s Training Materials

Now, don’t get us wrong. We understand that the value that you and your organization bring to your members, clients, and participants is immeasurable. There aren’t many (if any) other organizations that offer what you’re able to offer and that’s really important. But you’d be surprised how often we hear organizations continue to dedicate valuable time and resources to printing and packing boxes of training material for hours each week. Maybe it’s your marketing intern, or maybe some of your customer service or admin staff that are tasked with the duty of putting the fulfillment hat on. Is that truly what you hired them for, and what are they not doing for your organization while they do these tasks? We’ve asked this question literally hundreds of times, and the answer that is by far the most common is, “Our print and fulfillment process is so unique, that we need to do it manually in-house.”

You’re Not That Unique!

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re not that unique! Yes, each and every print and fulfillment process is a little bit different that requires a certain way of doing things. However, if you’re putting your staff through hundreds of hours of printing, shipping, and repeat, the time to stop is now. Fulfillment of your training materials is something that should be handled by an expert. Someone who’s profession it is to print high-quality materials that represent your brand in the best way possible and ship those materials directly to each individual training site nationwide.

“What we really mean is when it comes to your process, your needs and your system that you’ve set up, chances are that a fulfillment expert has seen it, or a form of it before.”

What we really mean is when it comes to your process, your needs and your system that you’ve set up, chances are that a fulfillment expert has seen it, or a form of it before. Remember, this is the livelihood of fulfillment experts. Their job is to be able to take a unique process and make it run smoothly. A great fulfillment partner is someone who is creative and can think on their feet to help provide you with ideas to improve your process and cut overhead. They’re also someone who chomps at the bit for the opportunity to work with organizations who need guidance on how to properly and efficiently run their print and fulfillment process.

When the time comes that you’re ready to look for a print and fulfillment partner, one of the most important things you should look for is how curious they are. A print and fulfillment partner should begin the process by asking you questions; lots of questions. So many questions that you feel like they know the process better than you before they even print a single training program. At first you may be thinking, “Man, what are they going to ask for next?” Just keep in mind that they are asking questions and being inquisitive because they want to be able to become masters of your process. If they aren’t asking questions, that means they aren’t interested in making your process as efficient and as optimized as possible, and that spells trouble.

One of the other important things to keep in mind when you’re considering a fulfillment partner is their leadership qualities. They should be able to quickly take control of the discussion and lead it with the aforementioned questioning. If they aren’t suggesting ways to make your process better, and just “going with the flow” of your current process, that’s a red flag. Within a meeting or two, you should be able to identify who the team members are that will be handling your process, and who your direct contacts are within the organization. Leadership is an important part of any business process, but it’s especially true when it comes to one that involves a lot of potential revenue.

So just remember, the next time your internal staff is spending countless nights printing and fulfilling your training materials, that your process is not the unique. It’s definitely not too unique for a fulfillment partner to help you free up resources and get them back to doing what you hired them for.

What do you think? How “unique” is your process? Is it worth talking to an expert about? I bet it’s worth a discussion. Let’s chat about your process today and how we can potentially help optimize your time and revenue opportunities.

Print on Demand Checklist: Is POD Right for You?

Here’s the scenario: Your continuing education materials are print-ready. Instructors are ready to go and learners from your association are already signed up for the new course. Everyone involved is excited to get started.

It’s time to decide: How many books should you print? Is it better to choose a large print run or produce books as they are ordered?

Print on Demand (POD) means that printed materials are produced on an as-needed basis. The opposite of POD is a large print run, where hundreds or thousands of books are produced at one time, in the hopes that someone will purchase them. The per-unit price is lower with large print runs, but producing more inventory than you might need can lead to waste and a need for a large warehouse space.

Is POD right for your organization? Consider these questions:

  • How many learners do you expect will enroll for the course? The higher enrollment is, the more likely it is that a larger print run will work. If you’re unsure, POD is the smarter choice.
  • How often does content need to be updated? Associations that operates in an industry with frequent changes driven by legislation or credentialing requirements are best served by POD because changes can be made before new volumes are printed.
  • Do you have room (in a warehouse or your office space) to house books from a larger print run? Which is more cost-efficient for your association: Doing a large print run and then having to give up office space (or, worse, renting warehouse space) to handle the inventory, or printing fewer copies and not having to worry about creating space for extras?
  • Are you confident that your printer can turn around new orders quickly? If you print on demand, but your provider doesn’t take the time to respond to requests in a timely matter, that has a negative impact on your association’s reputation. Alternatively, would your printer be willing to house a few extra copies of each title on your behalf, to fill orders easily (known as a microinventory)? While not true print on demand, using a microinventory is more efficient than POD and less wasteful than large print runs.

One question that might have been included in the checklist a few years ago—are you willing to compromise on quality? Print on demand has a bad reputation of creating a poor product, but the technology has improved to the point where it’s difficult to tell the difference between a book produced through POD from one that was part of an offset print run.

POD is considered by some to be friendlier to the environment than long print runs. It can be more cost-efficient, too. If you produce 500 books and content needs to be changed when half still sit on the warehouse shelf, 250 books will go to waste. The per-unit price break you got for a large print run becomes a moot point.

Looking through the questions on the checklist, did you determine that your organization should consider POD? We should talk! Check out print on demand page on our website and contact us to get the conversation started.

Spring Training for Your Course Books

Every spring, professional baseball players come out of hibernation (or, wherever they spend the off-season) and head to a sunny locale to whip themselves back into shape. Even the most dedicated athlete on the team likely has a few cobwebs to shake off his technique, and spring training is the time and place to get it done.

What does this have to do with your continuing education program? Spring can be a time to refresh and reinvent for you, too. Take a close look at your course books. Are they looking a little tired? Is it time to whip them back into shape?

Rebranding your continuing education materials is easier than you think. Half the battle is making the decision to do it and finding the right provider to guide you through the transition.

The National Retail Federation Foundation (NRFF) gave their materials a fresh face, with revised, streamlined content and a new look. The new course books are a big hit with instructors and helped the staff feel more comfortable marketing the program.

Looking for similar results with your materials? Read NRFF’s story, and if you’re ready to take your course books through spring training, give us a call!

State of the Industry Report: Top 3 Challenges of Training Professionals

The continuing education (CE) and training industry has moved forward from the recession and into a period of prosperity. The next several years look to be strong as well, with an increased demand in professional development training.

CE professionals are adding more training programs, but there is little to no budget increase to accompany the growth. Therefore, these programs must have a better ROI so an association can continue to offer them.

To get a better idea of the issues facing the CE industry and the impact on the production and delivery of training content, we conducted a survey. Ninety training professionals named their biggest challenges.

  1. Program marketing: In order to create more programs without an additional budget, it’s important that each course attract enough learners to earn its keep. Promoting training programs has become increasingly important. CE professionals, many of which don’t have a marketing background, might not feel comfortable in this role.
  1. Content development: In some industries, the same issues continue to arise for professionals. Even if topics are evergreen, though, content is not. Keeping training materials fresh and relevant to learners is an important component to a successful course.
  1. Program development: New courses show that your training program is responding to suggestions from its members. Adding topics, or changing the focus of an existing course, keeps your association relevant and allows learners to continue their professional development through your association.

Are these challenge consistent with your experience? How do you plan to meet these challenges? A few suggestions to get you thinking:

Program marketing: Look for opportunities to cross-promote programs. You could include information about a new program in a printed book or online materials for your association’s most popular course. You might also consider refreshing your content to ensure that your materials and training program are marketable. Promoting a course is easier when you feel proud of the materials your association has produced.

Content development: Consider alternate ways to make content changes more manageable for your association. Print on demand is one option; there will be less excess inventory and waste if you print materials as needed. Outsourcing this process can help save you time and frustration.

Program development: Call on feedback from post-course surveys to determine topics that are most important to learners. Remember that creating brand-new courses takes time and energy. In order to make big projects like program development tenable, delegate day-to-day tasks to other staff and volunteers as much as possible.

To learn more about your colleagues and the challenges they face, read the full report.

 

Training & Development Talk: Finding the Perfect (Print & Fulfillment) Partner

Finding the right industry partner can be tricky. Don’t you wish there were a Match.com or Tinder for meeting your perfect partner to satisfy your business needs and solve difficult challenges?

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy; you have to do a little shopping. Suppose you’re looking for a new print and fulfillment provider to address ongoing order accuracy issues. You put together an RFP and send it out to the masses to collect information and get pricing.

But finding the right industry partner is more than just completing a checklist. The RFP process doesn’t lend itself to learning about a company’s culture and fit, and that means not every potential match that looks good on an RFP will work out.

Even if a provider produces a quality product and meets your budget requirements, they might not be the right fit. If something unexpected comes up that changes the parameters of your project, will they be willing to adapt? Or will a customer service frustration, like lack of responsiveness, leave you feeling like a small fish in a big pond?

Deciding on a future partnership isn’t just swipe left or swipe right and you’re done. Your provider should give you the kind of service and attention that proves you’re special to them. Ask yourself: Is your organization treated like an important customer with specific needs? Do you get individualized attention? When issues arise, are they resolved in a timely fashion, professionally and with the utmost care for your brand?

Relationships are so important that a whole day this month—February 14th—is dedicated to celebrating them. Business partnerships deserve the same kind of consideration. Think about the long-term potential of a relationship with your print and fulfillment vendor. Take the time upfront to make sure it’s the right fit.

So what do you say? Are you ready to go on a first date with Omnipress? Contact us to make the arrangements. We look forward to getting to know your organization better.

2016 State of the Continuing Education Industry [Infographic]

Have you read our 2016 State of the Continuing Education Industry yet? If you haven’t had a chance yet, this infographic will give you a good summary of the results. What do you think? Does your continuing education program face the same issues?

Read the white paper to get the full report. Leave us a comment below! We’d love to hear what you think.2016SOIRCE-Infgraphic

Custom Kitting: Delegation at Its Finest

Managing your association’s continuing education (CE) program is a huge job and it takes an enormous amount of time and energy to pull it off. There are always more tasks to be done than time to do them. It’s tempting to try to do it all, but there simply isn’t enough time to focus on high-value activities like curriculum development and all of the details that come along running a CE program. The best way to conserve your energy for meaningful work is to delegate tasks that are important, but lower-value, in the grand scheme of your duties.

Accept the help you need to get your CE materials and other items to your instructors by working custom kitting into your fulfillment process. Many providers will take on the task of hunting down office supplies as well as course books, instructor manuals, and learning guides. Surely you would rather spend that time doing work that’s more mission-critical and interesting.

A typical kit, sent to the site of a CE course, might include the following:

  • 25 course books
  • 1 instructors manual
  • 25 learning guides
  • 25 exams
  • 25 highlighters
  • 25 packs of sticky notes
  • 25 pencils
  • 1 wall chart for the classroom
  • 25 completion certification

Save time and hassle while giving your instructors a useful, prepackaged kit they can use to move on to the business of teaching. Custom kitting gives you the option to take the smaller tasks off your plate so you can focus on what you do best.

What would your custom kit include? Leave a comment!

 

You Can Count On It: Measurement & Management Go Hand-in-Hand

Quick! Do you know how many boxes of tissues you have at home? Are you running low on water softener salt? When was the last time you had your HVAC system serviced?

Why does any of that matter? For the purposes of managing your association’s continuing education (CE) materials, it really doesn’t. But a basic principle of inventory management applies to all of these examples—you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Whether you need to pick up salt pellets this weekend or next is of little consequence, but what if your count is off for your CE course books? A learner is going to be left out. That leaves a bad taste in her mouth about the training program, and the association in general. Even if the mistake is rectified quickly, your association’s reputation takes a hit.

Trust one provider to produce, house, and inventory your CE materials and you’ll always know where your quantities stand. After all, you recognize how important inventory management is. Quite frankly, though, you’d rather spend your time on other initiatives. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Omnipress can help you manage your CE materials, leaving you free to build and expand your training program. Contact us to learn more.

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