7 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 a 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. There are many other reasons to choose print on demand for your association’s CE materials, including:

  1. Frequent content updates: How long does content in your industry remain current? Some associations can get away with large print runs because not much changes year to year. Others, particularly in highly-regulated industries and in STEM, must be updated more often.
  2. Reduced overhead: Start-up costs for large print-runs can be prohibitive or, at least, frightfully expensive. Print on demand requires less initial investment, keeping overhead low.
  3. Improved cash flow: Having less of your budget tied up in printed materials that may never be delivered to learners leaves you free to spend capital on other projects, like online training materials.
  4. Less guesswork: Inventory management becomes easier when you keep a smaller number of books on the shelf (a micro-inventory) and print more as orders roll in. You won’t have to toss hundreds of books, which cost you plenty, if content changes make the titles obsolete, or if a class is canceled.
  5. Minimum waste: When you keep a micro-inventory instead of a large quantity of books on the shelf, fewer books have to be tossed when changes are needed. Even better, your association is only charged for the number of books that were sold.
  6. No back orders: Avoid the embarrassment of back orders. Learners feel irritated when they can’t order the titles they need for class because a printer ran out. Print on demand takes this scenario off the table completely.
  7. Quick turnaround: Experienced printers can balance their workloads to get your larger print runs done without too much lead time. Print on demand requires less set up and fewer resources, so turnaround is even faster.


No two associations are the same; your reasons to print training manuals on demand may differ greatly from another similar organization. What we know: Print on demand works well for many associations, and it could be the right choice for you.

If this list makes you think it that sounds about right, contact us today! We’d love to help you bring educational resources to your association’s learners—and save you time, money, and resources at the same time.

Budget Planning: Make Room for Better Print Quality

It’s time to face the music! Examine your printed training materials. Take a close look at the color, the paper weight, the binding. Are the course books durable, or do they look like they’ll fall apart, at the seams or otherwise, if they’re tossed in a learner’s backseat too many times?

With your 2016 training budget under consideration, probably as I write this, it’s time to think about print quality. Maybe you can do better on your own. Maybe you’re doing the best you can, under the current circumstances, and, in order to make any real improvements, you need some help.

If you handle printing within your organization, maybe your color printer and copier isn’t up to the task anymore. It’s possible that the machine just isn’t built for the kind of wear and tear you’re putting on it.

Are you spending more time and money getting maintenance done on your printer than you are on actually printing and assembling course books? Maybe it just seems that way. Take your frustration into consideration, then, and consider this: Given how much time, effort, money, and mental energy you put into printing in-house, is it really worth it to do it yourself?

What’s your tipping point? Are you there right now? How much more frustration do you have to take on before you decide it’s time to make a change?

In other words, if you have a better relationship with your copy repair guy than you do with your membership base, you might need help with your training course books.

Consider this: Are you somewhere between long print runs with large quantities in stock and print on demand? You want the pricing you get with long print runs, without that waste that can come from maintaining a large inventory. Print on demand has a higher cost per unit and having no stock ready to send out to learners makes you nervous.

You might need help from someone who can help you compare your options and make the best decision for your association. If there a compromise between the two that can save you money while keeping enough stock on hand to meet your learners’ needs? (There is! Reach out to Omnipress to learn more about printing on demand with microinventory.)

Think about your printed training materials, your 2016 budget, and the reputation and brand you reflect through your course books. Is it time to make a change? Omnipress would love to help. Reach out to us to get the conversation started!

Why You Should Invest in the Best Printer for CE Materials

It’s true: You get what you pay for! Most people (and most organizations) can’t afford to spend lavishly on everything, though, so you have to choose what counts and where you can save. Sometimes you need the best product or service available; other times, “good enough” will do just fine.

Where do your association’s printed training materials fall on this scale? It’s tempting to think of this as a place to cut corners in your budget, but when your reputation is on the line, it’s wise to think twice.

Whether it’s the training staff or individual instructors running copies and working with large national retailers to get the materials ready, getting the job done can mean little more than checking the box. The cost is reasonable and it’s convenient to have instructors use a well-known entity for printing services. Seems harmless enough, right?

Take a close look at those course books. The ones created on the fly, as one of an instructor’s weekend errands. Would you describe the quality as world-class? Is your brand well-represented? Hold up that book to another one from a different instructor. Do the colors match? How is the binding holding up? If you looked at the book in 10 years, would it stand the test of time, or would it fall apart from heavy use because the paper quality and binding weren’t up to snuff?Spiral bound notebook with pencil over rattan desk- shallow dof

These pictures show a more generic comb-bound picture (top), which might be similar to what an instructor might put together with limited time and resources. A spiral-bound book (right) has a more professional look and higher quality; a dedicated printer would produce results like this, for less than what you might think.

In other words, “good enough” might not be anymore. At some point, you’ll have to weigh the convenience and cost savings of reproducing books on your own, or having instructors do the same, with the reputation and brand your association wants to reflect. Most likely, these two concepts are at odds with each other, and it’s time to decide what your brand is worth.

Maybe you think working with a dedicated printer for your continuing education materials is cost-prohibitive. When was the last time you checked? Have you been assuming that it’s easier for instructors to run their own copies, regardless of whether that represents your association in the best light. It’s time to think about it: What is quality and reputation worth to your association?

Or perhaps you’re unaware of how much better the print quality could be. That problem is easily solved! Omnipress would be happy to speak with you, determine if your project would be a good fit, and, if appropriate, print a sample of your course book. If you’d be interested to see how high-quality printing looks on your association’s content, reach out to us today! We’d love to show you the difference a qualified printer can make for your organization.

Print on Demand, Explained

We refer to print on demand often as a smart choice for associations that manage the production and distribution of continuing education materials. But what does that mean, exactly? Why is print on demand (POD) a better choice for associations like yours than traditional print runs?

The basic idea behind POD is this: books are printed as they are ordered. This is the opposite of the standard practice of printing hundreds or thousands of books and waiting for orders to come in. Sometimes print on demand is associated with independent publishers, like little-known authors who are determined to get their books in the hands of readers, even if they have to take on the task themselves.

POD is often misunderstood as an inferior way to produce printed materials; maybe this connection with independent authors has colored your view of print on demand as a business practice.

Nowadays the print quality is virtually indistinguishable between large print runs and POD; this prejudice is outdated. POD’s bad rap is unearned, or at the very least, no longer based in fact.

Your association is a different animal than a wet-behind-the-ears author who is just trying to gain exposure. Your goal is different: you want to bring timely, relevant content to learners. To accomplish this, it’s best to avoid printing more course books than you need.

Moreover, POD is a good business decision for associations that run continuing education (CE) programs. Many associations update their materials frequently, so printing hundreds of books that could become outdated (and therefore more or less useless) doesn’t make sense. POD is a smart choice to mitigate the risk that larger print runs bring.

Omnipress customer (ISC)2 switched to a POD model, which eliminated the need to print, ship, and store materials around the globe. This led to a cost savings of 60%!

To read the complete (ISC)2 story, download the case study! If your association could stand to save money on print and fulfillment of your CE printed materials, Omnipress can help! Reach out to us to learn more.

Reading Print: Not Just for the Dogs

In an article for the New York Times technology blog, Bits, journalist Nick Bilton discusses his decision to return to reading print books after a years-long hiatus—motivated in large part by his dog, Pixel.

When Bilton used a digital device to read, Pixel was distracted by reflections from the screen. And by distracted, I mean that she tried to chase the reflections, which created even greater distractions for her owner. When the situation became unbearable, Pixel’s human tried reading print books, more out of desperation than preference.

But a funny thing happened on the way to a placated Pixel. Bilton rekindled his own fondness for reading printed books, and now prefers them to digital.

Naturally, there are pros and cons to both digital and print. They have been outlined on this blog in the past. Print helps the reader stay focused by virtue of the fact that it serves a single function. No emails, texts, or social media notifications coming in just when you start to become lost in the story. No dog jumping on your lap, trying to chase the glint from the screen that you maybe moved half an inch, just when you get to the good part.

Digital’s pros are also compelling. It’s hard to argue with the convenience of carrying hundreds of titles in a device that’s smaller and lighter than a single paperback book. The appeal of a built-in dictionary is also tempting. How often do you run across a word you don’t know but forget to look it up? Social sharing is another important function of digital reading. Show your fellow readers that turn of phrase that you find so clever!

When you choose which format—or formats—to use for your association’s continuing education classes, remember why your learners are reading in the first place. Comprehension and retention matter a great deal, and by many accounts, print is the best choice. According a report cited in Bilton’s article, readers of print books had significantly higher scores on a test that measured understanding, compared to students who read from a screen.

If a learner can’t remember what was taught in a continuing education course when they return to their jobs, will it matter that providing only digital content saved your association a little money? In other words, is your goal to be an educational resource to members of your association, or to spend less than you did last year?

You may be in a position where you’re asked to do both, and that’s tough. Keep in mind, though, that your educational mission is what sets you apart from all of the free webinars and MOOCs online. Your association’s high-quality content, delivered face-to-face by talented instructors, are what makes your association’s continuing education courses the best in the business.

Follow that by providing content in the format proven to improve retention—that is, print—with supplemental materials and other content delivered digitally, and your association will earn the reputation of doing what’s best for learners at every step.

Omnipress can help your association establish itself as an educational leader in the field. When you leave print, fulfillment, online training materials, and inventory management to us, you’ll have the time you need to focus on improving and expanding your course offerings. We will provide high-quality printed course books that your learners can use to read deeply and internalize the content your instructors present, which creates a better learning experience for everyone.

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!

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.

Why Print-on-Demand Makes Sense for Associations

Innovation is important in your industry—and in every industry, as a matter of fact. As an association training professional, innovation often starts with you. Updated content keeps your courses fresh and forward-looking. However, if you choose large print runs for your books, revisions can really cost you.

If you expect that your course content will need frequent revision, whether that’s due to impacts of emerging technologies or legislation that’s coming down the pike, you should consider printing your training materials on demand.

You’ll avoid two types of waste: leftover books that are no longer relevant (or correct at all) and money on the table. Large print runs usually mean price breaks, but how much do you really end up saving if you throw hundreds of books away?

Omnipress encourages print-on-demand solutions for some associations because it tends to be a better fit for organizations whose content is dynamic. To be a leader in your industry, as most associations strive to be, stagnation is the enemy. If you keep training content constant as the industry is changing, you may be doing a disservice to your learners.

When you print on demand, you estimate how many volumes you’ll need on hand based on past enrollment. As learners order course books, the inventory begins to deplete. A micro-inventory is kept on hand (often with your fulfillment partner, if applicable) to cover any extra orders that may come in. If none do, your bottom line isn’t impacted; you only pay for the volumes that were ordered. Inventory reports are available online, 24/7, so you can keep an eye on stock and request more course books as needed.

Think about how your training program has evolved over the past five years and where you see it going by 2020. Not much change? That’s fine, and Omnipress can help with traditional print runs, too. On the other hand, if you see differences in content and class offerings on the horizon, you should take the time to ponder whether print-on-demand is the right choice for your association’s training program.

New Research Favors Printed Training Materials

We have determined, over the course of our nearly 40 years helping associations deliver knowledge, that print is a best practice for educational materials. It has been fulfilling to find research that supports our position. Last month, the Washington Post published Why Digital Natives Prefer Reading in Print. Yes, You Read That Right. In the article, author and linguist Naomi S. Baron discussed the research in her new book, Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World.

Millennials prefer printed books for many reasons, including the lack of distraction (compared to reading on a connected device). In our own survey/ of millennials, we learned that 59% agree that it’s easier to learn from printed materials, but the Washington Post article notes that young adult readers like print best for both learning and reading for pleasure.

Printed books have many advantages to their digital counterparts, especially when it comes to educational materials. Readers have a tendency to skim on screen. (I suspect, without judgment, that you may be doing that right now!) Distraction is inextricably linked to reading on a screen. If the ding! of an email notification or text message doesn’t draw you away from the task at hand, there’s always cat videos waiting on YouTube, just a few clicks away.

As a result of the skimming and the distractions, as well as other factors more neurolinguistic in nature, both comprehension and retention are compromised when reading digital materials. And that’s the real crux of the matter. It’s important to consider the end result of using printed materials or digital resources. eLearning is still relatively new, and little is known about the long-reaching effects of reading online and retention over time.

Some instructors and providers of educational materials are pushing their learners towards online resources, citing short-term benefits like cost savings, the ability to update materials more easily, and even physiological effects, like the impact heavy backpacks have on posture and back strain. The longer view—including drawbacks to using digital resources, like lower comprehension, retention, and overall learner experience—isn’t being carefully considered. There may be serious consequences to pushing learners to read course material online, and we ignore it to our detriment.

As you decide how to deliver training content to your association leaners, keep these issues in mind and challenge your own assumptions about young professionals. The common perception may be that millennials grew up online and insist on digital resources, but this isn’t what the research—our survey and other sources like the Washington Post article and Baron’s new book—is telling us. To improve retention for your learners of all ages, printed training materials is the right choice.

The Anatomy of Association Training

The human body is made of many interdependent systems that work together to help you get through your day. Likewise, many components go into providing continuing education materials for your association’s training courses.

Here is the anatomy of association training materials:

  • Printed training materials are like the cardiovascular system—they are the lifeblood of your training program. Course books, learning guides and exams are at the heart of helping members learn and retain information presented in your classes. Many studies support the idea that reading printed materials is a better match for deep, intensive reading of important information.
  • Formatting and design are part of the process and can be represented by the respiratory system. Good design and sleek formatting breathe life into content, making it easier to read with a proper flow and clean appearance. Branding is consistent when colors, logos and other elements are handled by the same organization that puts your materials on press.
  • Online training materials are akin to the nervous system. Do your learners have a trigger finger, ready to tap on a smartphone or a computer mouse to receive your training content? If so, the content should be available there, where they spend so much of their time already.
  • Physical digital media (CDs, DVDs, and USBs) are the digestive system. Learners can take home a USB, plug it in and read content on a screen without having to connect to the internet. This gives them an opportunity to really “take in” the information you presented in class, on their own time, on their own device.
  • Order fulfillment is best represented by the muscular system, and not just because it takes strength to move boxes of course books from our warehouse to your course site. Bringing your printed materials to your learners takes strength of a different kind, too—robust order systems that can handle the kind of customization each and every association deserves. Smaller muscle groups do important work, too, like kitting services, to make life easier for your instructors.
  • Inventory management is the skeletal system. Imagine rows and rows of metal shelving, where printed training materials are managed, and you’ll understand why a skeleton is the image behind inventory. Managing your inventory in your office, while it becomes overrun with boxes stacked in every corner of floor space available, is a drag. When you trust a printing partner with the task, you’ll lose the hassle without giving up control. With reports available to you 24/7, you’ll know the score.

Association training is a complex series of systems that, together, help your training program run smoothly and efficiently, just like the human body does. If the systems that help you deliver continuing education training content have been less than healthy lately, reach out to Omnipress for a consultation. We’ll have you back in tip-top shape in no time!

Good News! Formatting Help is Available for your Corporate Training Materials

Bringing your corporate training content to the printed page is quite the process! Getting a course book print-ready often takes more time and patience than you may realize. There are margins to be set, a table of contents to create, images to place, and countless other tasks that can eat up hours of your valuable time. If you’d like to reallocate that time to improving your courses and creating new ones, you may want to look in to using a printer that can also provide formatting services.

The Omnipress team includes some crack project managers and project technicians who are more than up to the task of formatting your corporate training materials. When you provide them with a sample of a course book to use as a “blueprint” and the content for the current version, they begin to work their magic. Soon you’ll receive a proof of the new book, complete with your organization’s colors, logo, and feel, presented in a clean, clear way that leaves the focus where it should be—on your important content.

The value in a well-designed and –formatted book goes beyond the aesthetic. When a course book is created with little regard to formatting, the learners’ attention is compromised. It’s just like reading a web page with too many sidebars and pop-up ads; you can always tell when attention was—and was not—paid to the reader experience. This level of awareness and scrutiny comes at a price, though, and one that corporate training professionals can scarce afford—lots of time.

That’s why it makes sense to trust professionals who spend their days formatting and designing educational content for all types of organizations for events, training, and publications in a wide variety of industries. The Omnipress team of print project managers and project technicians have a combined total of 55 years of experience, handling dozens of projects each year.

The appearance and clarity of your corporate training materials is critical to the success of your courses and an important component of your learners’ retention. Formatting services, especially when paired with print from the same vendor, can make this goal easier to achieve, without having to take on this time-consuming task on your own. Reach out to Omnipress today to start the conversation!

The Truth about Environment Impact & Printed Educational Materials

Here’s the situation: Your association’s continuing education program depends on great instructors and quality content. Every year, you wonder, as the course books are printed and shipped, about the environmental impact of all that paper and ink. So many of your learners already have tablets, smartphones, or eReaders. Would it be better to offer only digital copies of training materials?

Environmental impact is just one of many factors that goes into your decision on content distribution, though. Avid readers of the blog will remember that we recently released the results of our independent survey of over 500 young professionals (age 22-33). Their answers showed their preference for print when asked about professional and educational materials, also stating that printed materials are better for reference and easier to learn from than digital materials. (For full survey results, download the white paper.)

A growing body of research supports the notion that reading print leads to better retention. Where your association’s continuing education program is concerned, this should be your primary concern, above environmental concerns, cost, and reader preference. We’ve said it before, and we believe it’s true: Print is a best practice for educational materials.

Which is not to say that online versions of printed materials are completely devoid of merit. Convenience is an oft-cited selling point of online distribution of content, as is the flexibility of dynamic content. Once a printed course book is off the press, there’s nothing to be done about that typo or a research-based claim that has recently been called into question.

On the environmental front, an article from The Huffington Post sheds some much-needed light: It’s basically a wash, and certainly not enough of a distinction to play a large role in decision-making. The environmental impact of eReaders and smartphones depends on how often you upgrade your device and how often you use them to read. Unless you read somewhere north of 100 books before trading your device in for a newer model, print has no bigger a carbon footprint than its digital counterpart.

As you determine how to deliver continuing education content to learners, keep your ultimate goals in mind. If your mission includes the professional development of your association’s members, and their implementation of what they learn in your continuing education courses in their daily work, the choice is easy: Printed training materials are best.

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