Print buyers should audit their suppliers

I’m grumpy!
I’m resentful!
And I hate forms!

The taxman is rarely anyone’s best friend. But print buyers can learn a useful lesson from taxmen.

Taxmen do audits: so should print buyers.

Print buyers should audit their suppliers
If you use print companies, you need to know all about them. And that’s what a supplier audit is all about. It’s about asking for information from your printers. It’s about making sure that your printers can deliver what you require.

Print buyers who audit their suppliers form powerful partnerships. This is because both sides have a much better idea about what is expected in the relationship. Print buyers who audit their suppliers have better control over their supply chain. And they achieve more with their suppliers.

Print buyers who don’t audit their suppliers will not achieve the same results. They won’t understand their suppliers so well, so they won’t achieve the same level of control. And they won’t achieve the same level of partnership.

Here are three reasons why auditing your printing company will create this better partnership:

1) Auditing your printer forces you to think about what you want from them
When you decide to audit your printing company, you have to decide what to ask them. And, in deciding these questions, you are forced to think about what you really need from your supplier.

Are you simply looking for a good general printer? One that prints efficiently to a reasonable commercial quality? Or do you have special requirements? Do you need a print company with particular manufacturing capabilities? Or particular data management skills? Or environmental commitment? It is often the audit stage that provokes discussion about these questions.

But once you know what you want from a printer you need to be sure they can deliver.

2) Auditing your printer forces them to prove themselves
If you audit a print company they need to step up to the mark. They need to be able to explain their capabilities to you. And they need to be able to demonstrate them too. Some suppliers are much more focussed than others on what they deliver. The auditing process will show this.

But the auditing process is not just about your print suppliers. It’s also about you.

3) Auditing your printer avoids internal politics
Have you ever had colleagues question your choice of supplier? Have you ever been accused of favouritism? Or, worse still, choosing the printer that buys you the best lunch?

A good supplier auditing system will allow you to explain your choice to your colleagues. You will be able to show them that you went through a structured process. And that your choice of print supplier was not just a random decision.

Of course, you may make a decision differently today than you would have done a year ago. That’s why auditing your suppliers should not be a one-off event.

You should audit your printers regularly
Ideally you should carry out an audit of a print company every one to two years. Print companies change. They may no longer so well suited to your needs.

And your needs may have changed too. You may have a different set of questions that you need to ask your print supplier.

Here’s how I used a print audit successfully
I needed to choose the right supplier for a laser over-printing contract. The contract involved handling large amounts of sensitive data. It required excellent barcode generation skills. And the printer needed to be able to manage a product that had a high re-sale value.

So it was essential that I understood the capabilities of all the printers who might be bidding for this project. A simple request for a quote would not have been enough. If the printer couldn’t manage the data properly then the job would fail. And I couldn’t risk using a supplier that didn’t have secure storage.

A supplier audit process made sure that I was certain the chosen supplier could deliver.

Here are three action points to make sure that your printers can deliver
1) Write down a list of exactly what you need from your print suppliers
2) Create a standard audit questionnaire
3) Consider using industry expertise to help you with your audit or to audit on your behalf. Print & Procurement can help with this.

P.S. Anh Khoa ‘s Brother always welcomes Print Buyer come to audit. Please put your comments right after here in case you want us to pick you up at the airport, at your hotel or wherever .

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