Sunday, May 15, 2011

Requesting Feedback / Input from Reprographers on "education" and "standards" that I believe the IRgA should deal with

I would like to get some feedback / input from my blog-visitors on a few matters.

All of these matters pertain to “things” I think the IRgA should look into and pursue on behalf of IRgA members. Most of us who attended the IRgA Convention are aware that the IRgA may be going through a “restructuring” at some point during the current year. However, no matter what that restructuring ends up looking like, I would love to see the IRgA (whether it continues as an “association” or whether it simply becomes a “group” or “club”) look into and pursue.

Item #1 – IRgA Educational Programs ?

Over lunch the other day, I suggested to one of my IRgA friends that the IRgA has not gone far enough with “educational” programs in the past. I explained to my friend that on any one specific topic, there’s a 10%-90% “split.” 10% of “education” is making someone aware (in our case, making reprographers aware) that there’s an opportunity that’s worth pursuing. The other 90% involves providing detailed information and education so that one interested in pursuing an identified-opportunity will know “how to pursue it, how to do it.” In the past, I believe the IRgA has done an adequate job letting reprographers know about opportunities that are worth pursuing. But, on the other hand, I believe the IRgA has not done a good job, if any, on the 90% piece.

In an effort to ensure that I’m expressing myself clearly, as to what I said in the previous paragraph, I’d like to use an example. Many years ago, the IRgA had, at one of the IRgA Conventions, an educational/breakout session on the subject of “FM’s.” Subsequent to that, there were other “FM” related sessions at subsequent IRgA Conventions. For the past three years, the IRgA Convention has presented “MPS” related sessions. (Personally, I don’t think the “MPS” business is all that different, if different at all, from the “FM” business.) Okay, to go further, what the IRgA has done in the past about the topic of the “FM” business, in my opinion, is to ensure that reprographers “know” that the FM (MPS) business “is an opportunity.” That’s the 10% - the “awareness factor - I spoke of. But, in order to effectively pursue the FM (MPS) business, one needs to know the remaining 90% that’s been missing. Inasmuch as I’ve had at least some experience in the FM (MPS) business, I’m going to “bullet point” the 90% that’s been missing:

· Clear definition of what an “FM” business segment is, including the strategy behind it.

· How to “market” FM programs and how to pitch an FM program

· How to determine an FM prospect’s needs and requirements (survey / analysis process)

· Technology implications

· How to do FM math (costing and pricing, detailed explanation)

· How to propose an FM program (detailed proposal format)

· Suggested terms and conditions of an FM program

· How to effectively “sell” and “close deals” (drawing on successes of others)

· How to organize an FM business segment (people, SOP’s, etc.)

· How to implement an FM deal

· How to monitor, review and manage an FM deal and how to “renew” deals

There are lots of people in the reprographics industry who have significant experience with all of the items I just mentioned, and I’m sure those people could add to the list that I just put forth.

Okay, I used the “FM” (MPS) business as an example. To my blog visitors – am I completely off-base on this? Should the IRgA pursue this sort of “education” for its members? If so, it would require the development of an educational program that contains separate “modules” for each sub-topic. The FM business cannot be “taught” in a 90 minute educational/breakout session.

Item #2 – Certification program for “Document Management” ?

I also “suggested” to my IRgA friend that it would be a good idea for the IRgA, perhaps in conjunction with CIS (Construction Specifications Institute) and the AGC (or maybe ABC) to develop an “educational program”, including a “certification” for “document management” for A/E/C projects. Jared Willis, former Sales Director at BarkerRepro (CA) made a suggestion about this on his blog. Just because we (reprographers) “think we know” all of the “document management” issues our customers have to deal with, does not necessarily mean that “we do know” all of the document management issues they have to deal with. Why not develop a course that “does deal with” “all of the document management issues” our customers have to deal with? And, then teach that stuff to our team members, get them “certified” and then promote our “certified” people to A/E/C customers. Reprographers hold themselves out to be “document management” experts and we promote “document management” software and document management services. Are we experts? As to DM software and services, reprographers face competition from other reprographers AND FROM technology companies who are not reprographers. How do we stack up against the non-reprographer companies that compete with us for DM software and, especially, for DM services? Our A/E/C customers “trust” us with their printing needs? Do they really “trust” that we know all we should know about their “document management” needs? Building a significant level of trust is important. Perhaps “certifications” will help “differentiate” reprographers.

To my blog visitors – am I completely off-base on this? Your input and feedback is welcome.

Item #3 – Suggested “standard” nomenclature and units-of-measure for “government-sector” reprographics services bids and proposals ?

I’ve mentioned this topic in at least one previous post related to “government sector” bids and proposals. As taxpayers, we fund government. We pay the salaries and benefits of people who work at government-sector purchasing departments. Would it not be in our best interests (as reprographers and as taxpayers) to bring about “changes” that would reduce the time it takes for government-sector purchasing people to put together bid and proposal documents? As reprographers, would we not benefit if we received government-sector bid and proposal documents that “called out services” that are “current” (and not obsolete) and using terms that we understand, and using standard units-of-measure that our industry uses?

To my blog visitors – am I completely off base on this? Is this a project that the IRgA should take on?

Have a pleasant Sunday.

1 comment:

  1. Joel,

    Although I have been away from the business since September of ’05 I am still interested and follow your blog regularly. As a former reprographer (having sold to ARC in ’01 and retiring ’05) and former President of the IRgA (2000-2001) I think Sunday’s comments were right on. The IRgA and the industry have gone through some very challenging times. Things will never return to where they were. The IRgA could and should be the instrument to help reprographers transform to the new business model. Keep up the thoughtful comments.


    (formerly Rhode Island Blueprint)
    Now enjoying the Florida sunshine…