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Why Qualifying Print Suppliers is Often a Crapshoot

For print buyers, qualifying printers is more important than ever with the urgent need to spend wisely in a tough economy. But it can be complicated and time-consuming—and no matter how diligent you are, most of the available methods don’t guarantee that you’re getting the best deal on price, quality, and service.

Qualifying methods vary with the size of the organization:

(1) Larger organizations and the government may have extensive screening systems, resulting in an approved supplier list. Their processes may include vendor certification, review of vendor quality manuals, detailed questionnaires, and quality audits.

(2) Organizations such as the Printing Industry Exchange maintain a directory of print suppliers, who pay a fee to be listed. Print buyers fill out a quote form (free) and the exchange matches them with printers.

(3) Some organizations may outsource printer qualification to a broker; using their approved supplier lists, or set their own criteria. Key considerations may include:

  • Location
  • Reputation
  • Certifications
  • Quality
  • Consistency
  • Transparency
  • Competitive price

In addition, print buyers at some organizations may place a premium on creating and maintaining a predictable, trusting relationship with a few go-to vendors.

Unfortunately, these typical printer qualification methods are a risky crapshoot because they are:

  • Subjective: Wanting to maintain good relationships can get in the way of business needs, which should come first
  • Limited: The best-qualified printer for a specific job may not be on your list. Your “favorite printer may not have the capability you need in a specific instance.
  • Outdated: Vendors’ financial conditions, capabilities, processes, and priorities change – your vendor list ca quickly become outdated.
  • Ineffective: Having a go-to printer is convenient, it not necessarily good for your bottom line – which is why no printer can guarantee you the best price on every job

In these challenging economic times, businesses can’t afford to assume they’re getting a good deal from long-time vendors, or rationalize paying a premium for services that could generate cost savings. The alternative to this crapshoot is using an objective methodology that:

  • Qualifies a wide range of printers who meet your specific needs
  • Creates clear job specifications; and
  • Applies an efficient, impartial pricing process

In this tough economy, qualifying printers is more important than ever with the urgent need to spend wisely.

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