Print-shop management programs such as Ordant can help your team efficiently oversee the details associated with processing the many printing-related projects that come through your shop each week. When a good print-shop management program is in place, your staff will have more time to focus on special projects that can affect the long-term success of your business. Training your staff in the principles of print shop project management can help them approach each new assignment in a more disciplined and productive way.

The Project Management Institute defines a project as “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.” Managing a project involves initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve the defined goals of project. Construction industry project managers work with clients and architects for months to ensure that a building is designed and completed within the given time frame and budget. But in the fast-paced world of printing, every order you receive can also be considered a “project.” Each order is unique with specific requirements for completion and delivery. When you have streamlined the management of fast-turnaround printing projects, you can turn your attention to longer-term business-development projects.

Many people have never been formally trained in “project management. So before asking your staff to handle special projects, make sure they understand the fundamentals of each stage of project management.

Initiating a Project

Define the project.

Clearly define the problem to be solved and the expected result. For example, if you want to find ways to reduce wasted materials in your print shop, ask your project team to “Research the underlying causes of wasted materials in the print shop. Then, recommend at least five action items that can help reduce wasted materials by at least 10% this year. Present your findings and recommendations within 90 days.”

Make sure everyone involved understands how the project relates to your company’s larger goals. For instance, reducing waste can free up money for salaries and benefits or new equipment or facilities.

Select the team.

Ask for volunteers or bring together employees from different departments to offer a wider range of perspectives. For example, is the waste caused by color-management errors in prepress and production? Or are you buying low-cost, low-quality materials that don’t feed properly through your presses? Is some waste caused by improper storage and handling of materials? Appoint a project manager who has demonstrated good leadership skills. Or, use special projects as a way to identify and develop leaders for your print shop.

Planning the ProjectInvolve the team in defining the best way to proceed. Outline steps in the process and clarify who will be responsible for which steps. Determine time frames and resources required for each step in the process. Some projects can be completed within a couple of weeks. Others may take several months, depending on how much research and/or testing is required.

Executing and Controlling

Define how results will be measured and reported. Who will be responsible for keeping the project on track and making adjustments as needed?

Sometimes, the scope or timeframe of the project may need to be changed. So it’s important the team members know who is in charge of making those decisions.  

Closing

Before the project is officially closed, check to make sure the team has delivered everything you requested. Determine what follow-up projects are required or how you will implement the team’s recommendations.

Then, ask the team members to evaluate how well the project was managed. Can they suggest ways to improve the process? For example, could the project have been better defined from the start? Could the team have benefitted from more time during certain phases of the project?

Specialized Project Management Software

Depending on the complexity of your special projects, you may want to use specialized software to facilitate collaboration and information sharing. Some Ordant customers use tools such as Slack and Google Drive to help manage collaborative projects that require sharing information and ideas.

Ordant connects easily with both Slack and Google Drive. This is helpful in case a project-management team needs easy access to some of the estimates, job data, customer requests, invoices, and purchase order information that can be stored in Ordant. For a demonstration of Ordant, visit www.ordant.com