Managers – Stay Educated!

Educated Managers Make Better Decisions
The document printing and distribution industry is similar to most other businesses today. It is driven by technology and changing fast. Managers that don’t keep up with trends, innovations, and advancements are putting their careers on the line.

For a long time it was OK to operate within one’s own shop; managing the day to day issues, getting the work out, and not worrying too much about what was happening on the outside. Not any more.

In nearly every facet of our business there are new products, methods, or regulations that will have an effect on print/mail operations. Document professionals owe it to their companies and themselves to regularly investigate new approaches.

Pursuing Active Sources of Information

There is a ton of information online – vendor sites, blogs, trade publications, newsletters, and social networks cover the document business from all angles. As difficult as it can be, document center managers need to carve out time for reading some of this content. However, actually interacting with the outside world can spark fresh perspectives and open some communication channels that are impossible while sitting passively with a computer or mobile device.

Exhibits, Education, and Networking

Attending trade shows is a great way to see hardware and software in action. This is especially useful if considering a purchase. It provides a chance to compare competing products side-by-side and talk directly to vendors. If there are integration concerns, chances are that representatives of all the vendors may be at the same show and can collaborate to resolve questions on the spot.

But managers should not spend all their time in the exhibit hall. Be sure to take advantage of the informational content that is available in the conference sessions. It is here that one is exposed to expert analysis, new approaches, or industry trends. Coming away from the educational sessions with just one good idea that can be implemented back home can pay for the whole trip.

Networking opportunities are also abundant at trade shows. Take plenty of business cards and strike up conversations with people at lunch, before and after educational sessions, and while standing at a vendor booth. Finding someone who has similar operations yields the opportunity to swap stories about how each organization solved particular problems. These peers can also be invaluable as sources of unbiased opinions of software, service, or hardware products your company might be considering later on. You will be glad you have someone to call that isn’t trying to sell you something.

Up Close with Individual Vendors

Some vendors put on open houses or user conferences where they showcase all their products, provide training classes, or share their plans for upcoming developments. These are often at low or no cost, and can be another great source of information. Check with printer, inserter, and software vendors about these events.

Joining trade associations and attending local meetings is another avenue open to most operations managers. Meetings are generally partial days and are local, so there are no expensive travel and hotel costs requiring approval. Local Postal Customer Council (PCC) meetings and events are also a low-cost way to get out of the shop for a while and learn something valuable about mailing issues.

Not Easy – But Worth the Effort

When managers travel to conferences, meetings, or trade shows, supervisors and lead operators have a chance to gain valuable experience running things on their own. With a smart phone and a laptop, managers are really not out of touch should an actual emergency develop. Concern about being away from the operation for a short time should not be a deterrent.

Keeping up with what is going on in the document business takes personal initiative.

Regardless of how it is accomplished, managers who allocate time to educate themselves about developments and trends in the industry will find the effort to be a worthwhile investment.