Posts Tagged ‘Company’

Something’s Gotta Give…

February 22, 2010

Free? Free? OK, almost free? No, no how about; at least do it at a loss for me?

Sound familiar?

Over the last 20 years in this trade I’ve seen and heard of more and more companies trying to conjure up magic numbers that maintain their clients illusions that they are getting a bargain. In fact some companies will take hit on the operational cost of producing the work just to have the client under their belt.

And what about cases where a potential client promises high spends that never materialise? Sales guys that expect the company to make investments in time, people and resource for a client that isn’t worth it’s value. I know your thinking that “any financial controller worth his/her salt wouldn’t allow this to happen” – yet it does, and will continue to do so.

These are all examples of how the life is being sucked out of what it actually costs to do the work. That and the high salaries of senior members of the companies that are nothing but a drain on resources – great if their bring in work, but what a dead weight if they don’t!

Anyway, thinking lets consider for example the Publishing industry; someone somewhere must have got some big bonuses for driving the cost per page down to near nothing, but the cost was at the industry’s detriment. It’s all well and good reducing the costs to the client so much that it keeps everyone else from getting a look in, then offshoring it all to India or China, but at some point something breaks! The client’s expectations of how much ‘stuff’ costs to produce are so high (i.e. they expect it at such a low cost) that companies can’t or don’t have the money to invest in the infrastructure needed to service them in the manner that they expect. OK, some companies do get deals on who pays for staff or what the kick backs are of different parts of the supply chain, but on the whole it is now a zero numbers game. Hard work and dedication just isn’t part of the equation anymore and reputation means diddly squat nowadays – in fact requtation could actually be a ‘worst enemy’.

Under such circumstances, is it any surprise that so much work is making it’s way out to India and China. Many moons ago it would have been eastern block countries until their cost of living went up and subsequently the cost of outsourcing rose with it forcing companies to find cheaper solutions – will we see the same with India and China? If so, where to next?

It confuses me slightly why clients source UK companies who outsource their work? Is that again something for them to save money on? I mean if I were a client and I discovered my pre-media operation outsourced I’d be pretty annoyed if they hadn’t told me. If I was in the position as a customer of course one part of me would say “why should I care because I’m getting a great price” but another part of me would say “I could just source an offshore company to work for me anyway”. After all most of them have representitives in my country anyway so what do I gain by having a ‘piggy in the middle’ -surely that ‘piggy’ is just getting fat for doing, er, well not much at all really!?

Well, maybe not that fat! I am sure that you have all been watching the media news recently where a number of ‘piggies’ (or middle men) have been going under. A sign of the times me thinks, where the bacon has been sliced too thin for them to survive off. We can of course stand on the side lines and opine at the fate of these middle men and their companies who clearly “had it coming”. However, at the end of the day these are people’s livelihoods that we are watching disappear down the pan – livelihoods that in some cases have been treated with total disregard and I am not just talking about their own employees, as there is a whole supply chain affected by such sad and sorry stories of mismanagement!

Of course, under such business circumstances something eventually has got to give! And I really do think that it is going to take one of the ‘big players’  to fall for the industry to realise that greed is not good for our business.

Author: Gary George

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Cartoon credit for Corporate Profits to Clay Bennett

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Invest in the Employee – Your Greatest Business Asset

February 10, 2010

It’s pretty easy maths when you think about it; to get set-up as an artworker/designer/creative bod today doesn’t actually cost a fortune and for most people they would probably have a home setup that is better or newer than what they would be using at work anyway.

I did a quick shopping list using some estimates on what it would take to set-up a little home office. Being completely legal naturally (not to say that anyone would use pirated software anyway!) and this is what I came up with:

 

Now, consider that you wouldn’t rush out and buy all of the font collections in one go and let’s say you purchased them on a project-by-project basis (or if you were working on outsourced work you may even be supplied the fonts) a £5,530 investment over 3 years isn’t that bad. In fact £1,845 per year would be a ‘drop in the ocean’ if you are able to get the work in.

The thing with doing this is that you need to actually be good at what you do in order to maintain a steady income! A big part of that is the need to keep on top of your training in the applications, hell you’re responsible for your own income now, so if you don’t put the time in you have no one to blame but yourself….

Now look at it from the companies‘ point of view. They employ you on a wage (or if you’re unlucky a salary) and you are monitored on your efficiency to produce work in a timely fashion and actually that’s not much different to what you would do for yourself, although your attitude towards it is different when someone else is paying you, right?

In my mind, you, the employee are still responsible for yourself and your career advancements. You would be of less value if, for instance, you spent your life in QuarkXpress and never taught yourself Indesign – when looking for a new job you may find yourself unemployable.

But what about the employer? Do they have a resposibility to provide you with some sort of training? Some sort of career progression? Well no not really, not unless it is in their interest. But there is an exception to that you see, since the company wants to get the most out their assets is it not in their best interests to make sure you are the absolute best you possibly could be? Not only that, but you are a massive annual investment to them and you cost them a tonne of money each year that they need to charge onto the client in some way.

That’s to say that you as an employee can absolve yourself from trying to be a model worker and sit back and blame your company for you not going anywhere. No, you have to be the driver here, you have to want to be the best and your company should know that they can invest in you for their own greater return. Let’s face it most companies that are doing well will reward their employees and there’s even those with stockholders who share the wealth with their employees. I’ve always said that a happy employee is a productive employee, yet all I see and hear is how unhappy people are and how badly their employer treats them.

I wish that employers could see that their greatest investment is in their staff and their staff are what they should be nurturing, developing and rewarding in order to grow their business.

Author: Gary George

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Do Your CSR’s Drive New Business?

February 5, 2010

Ever wondered what is being said to your existing clients?

Are your customer service representatives fully aware of your company’s capabilities?

Have you joined the dots between your business units?

Does your business development team understand the end-to-end processes?

Do your staff development plans tie in with your business strategy?

Does your branding really communicate what you do?

These seem pretty simple questions right? Well in my travels I have seen so much political action within companies that the answers to the above questions aren’t as positive as you would expect.

Since my post is actually about Customer Services teams I’m just going to spend a few paragraphs explaining why your CSR’s are the front-line of your business and how, with very little effort and a little reward, these business peripherals could win you more business from existing clients.

First of all and most critically your CSR’s have daily if not hourly contact with the customer. If they don’t have a clue of the full range of capabilities within your business (and I mean more than the one day tour of your facility when they joined) then how the heck are they in a position to recognise additional business opportunities with your client. They may only be an interface to say artwork origination, yet the customer may also be dealing with the marketing communication and thus have a requirement for multi-channel output. Well wait a minute, your CSR’s are working for a pre-media company who deals directly with multi-channel communication…!

Your CSR’s inevitably get very close to the customer and I’ve even know a couple that got married from a client/supplier relationship that went a little further! They go to business meetings, socials, drinks and events together, places where your CSR’s could leverage your clients friends or connections to sell your company without even breaking a sweat! Look at the statistics for Facebook or LinkedIn and see just how incestuous our industry is. Look at mine as an example; connections in every type of supply chain vertical for our industry and I am always getting asked to make introductions for new business opportunities (should really take commission, but never do!)

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Interesting Facts on Media for 2010

January 19, 2010

Well you always manage to stumble across something that’s pretty interesting out there on the web and whilst browsing away I stumbled upon this lovely little presentation on Slideshare.

What I found interesting was the volume of information that was backed up by a credible source, although some of the figures seem pretty unbelievable you have to trust that the research was fully executed (for example the 72% of mums in the UK are on Facebook, well my partner is a mum and isn’t on there, neither was she surveyed…. so I wish they would simply add the word surveyed into the statement…. 72% of surveyed mums in the UK is far better than 72% of mums in the UK!!)

Anyway I think for companies in our world who need some facts and figures for their presentations on pre-media output channels you will find a lot in here that help you get the message across… Imagine if you are the company launching a campaign for baby milk in the UK, 72% of your target audience is on Facebook, wouldn’t you be thinking about doing a bit of advertising on there where you can target the exact demographic you want?

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Is your asset manager generating you income?

December 21, 2009

Over the past year you’ve heard me ramble, get confused and talk out of my backside, but everything we have brought to you has been about possibilities and the business process thought behind driving your pre-media operations, in a forthcoming post I’m going to touch upon the staffing requirements (or the perceived staffing requirements) for the next generation of pre-media operations.

So today’s subject is about the asset manager you have; ask yourself this question:

Do we use our asset management system today the same way as we did when it was installed?

 Invariably the answer to this will be no, why? well it’s a relatively simple answer, very few companies actually know want they want when they invest in a DAM system, so few perform a needs analysis and produce a future requirements document. Every company has a strategic direction, whether that filters down to the staff or not, it is always a consideration when the CEO sign’s off on a major purchase, it’s part of his preflight check of releasing the funds; but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the DAM systems roadmap fits with your own strategic direction.

On a whole most companies will have growth, flexibility and diversity in their own roadmap knowing that they won’t be doing the same thing in 5 years as they are today, so does the digital asset management system you invested in all those years back provide you with the framework to generate that future income?

We have seen companies suffer through poor or nonexistent taxonomies, through poor file management and through poor management in general, companies have looked at the cost of asset librarians and felt they can cut down or do without, but is that at the cost of securing more income through the reuse of those assets they look after. Today more than ever with the explosion of media output channels digital asset management should play a pivitol roll in any companies strategy for multi channel, multi tenanted environments.

So before you work out how much potential cash has already gone in the bin, evaluate if the DAM infrastructure you have is inline with the companies strategic direction and make sure that you invest in the right people to meet those targets, although you may see this as a short term overhead you can do without, the long term gain will pay dividends that you can not yet realize.

Author: Gary George

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