Printbuyers Online

Suppliers Outsourcing Your Jobs

I just read the results of an industry survey that asked print buyers if (a) they were aware when their printers did not produce all of their work and (b) would they care if their printer outsourced their jobs. The company that conducted the survey concluded that "61% of buyers really did not care if their vendor jobbed out a printing order to another printer."

Let's look at this closer. 61% of print buyers may not care if at some time their printer outsources their jobs, depending on the circumstances. Here's what you should consider.

  1. The type of project - You probably would be much more hesitant about your printer outsourcing your annual report than you would be about sending out a small job where the impact-- if the job was late or poor quality--wouldn't be so devastating.

  2. The portion of the job that is outsourced - Is your printer outsourcing the entire job or just a portion of it - and which portion? The type of project plays a determining factor in how much outsourcing is appropriate.

  3. The supplier - Many of us have at least one printer that can seemingly read our minds. They know our priorities and what we expect so we may trust them to outsource a project. On a complex print job, they may be able to manage the job better than we do, or we rely on this supplier to reduce our workload by "brokering" the projects for us. There's nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, we might be leery about letting a new supplier do so.

  4. The type of work that is being farmed out - Jobs that require diecutting, embossing, microfolds, or complicated bindery are obvious candidates of being outsourced in part to another supplier. However, if your supplier repeatedly outsources a particular type of job, perhaps you're choosing the wrong candidate.

  5. Risk and turnaround time - The higher the risk of the job and the faster the turnaround, perhaps the less willing you may be to have your printer outsource the project.

    Obviously, you will want to allow your suppliers some flexibility when they have occasional capacity problems or equipment failure issues. And, I'm not in any way discouraging you from allowing your suppliers to outsource. Quite the contrary!

    Consider carefully what is right for you and your company. Industry research can be very, very helpful and much more certainly needs to be done to represent the print buyers' point of view. But whether industry research comes from us here at PBO, or another source, use it only as a tool for helping you come to your own conclusions. You know best, so follow your instincts.

    For more tips, click below to see my corresponding Q&A on outsourcing.

    I'd love your thoughts on this matter. Please send me an e-mail at and title your e-mail "outsourcing."

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