Sunday, 13 May 2012

A Long and perhaps tedious read but oh so relevant to my situation My report to Admin Dependant, Anal Retentive Excutives everywhere....

The issues surrounding the Fizzing Drug Store account remain the same as they have for the past five years. Historically, the previous print management incumbent struggled to maintain a consistent quality focused service even with greater resource. A number of account managers came and went with the single thread linking their leaving being pressure of work and the inherent stress that comes with the job. One individual even went so far as to sue for compensation. He won the case. When I first started working on the Fizzing Drug Store account some four years ago, Karen ******, the then *** appointed account manager, was fighting a losing battle trying to resolve the two hundred thousand pounds of outstanding invoices. Two individuals before her had failed to get client PO’s for these jobs. At the time of my joining the team, including Karen, was six strong. Now there are but two.

*** never could understand why so many staff appointed to the Fizzing Drug Store account left. They would look at the statistical analysis and scratch their heads wondering what was causing the problem. Casual observations made electronically and remotely give only a fragmented, opaque view of production activity. These self-same statistics are flawed because their judgement is based on one single tool of operation - the computer; they fail to recognise the sheer amount of E-mails, phone calls, client visits, client queries, production issues, agency screw ups that need rapid resolution from receipt of inaccurate specifications that make up the working day. Bearing in mind that all of the above have service level agreements that are constantly monitored which brings its own layer of pressure

Another factor that needs due consideration and one that *** never had to deal with is the additional volume of work now arriving from Premiums. That coupled with the unbelievably demanding wants of another new sub-divisional account, A***** Health, stretch our limited resources to breaking point. All these factors, without a shadow of doubt and not withstanding Pauline ***********’s unexpected and protracted illness have impacted on my performance.

I am as equally aware of my weaknesses as I am my strengths. I am by nature a salesman and a man manager. I have worked and sold at board room level, have negotiated at senior union levels and have been responsible for a staff of sixty people. I sometimes, due in part to the unsustainable level of pressure, lack a methodical, meticulous mind. This is something I have and am addressing. I need a robust, flexible, disciplined system to harness me and my talents to the task at hand. I am possibly forgetful at times and this failing is again exaggerated by the sheer volume of work I manage. This needs both me and ***** to address.

Brian is good at his job continuing to improve as each month passes but is still unable physically to take more work on. Even if he were able to do more this still would not address the problem. More resources are required if we are to continue in the way we do.

There are other factors too that have, in my opinion, hampered a cohesive production flow.

1. Having to share a printer that is routed through my laptop which in effect interrupts my ability to type or view documents when in print mode. Historically we always used the Fizzing Drug Store printers which we didn’t have to maintain nor fill with paper – a much better way of working

2. No longer able to access the Fizzing Drug Store network which allowed access to the Fizzing Drug Store global address book thereby granting instant name recognition when E-mailing to clients. Clients seldom include phone details or finger numbers on their E-mails

3. A lack of PST folders to hold all pertinent E-mail both sent and incoming.

I am not presenting a readily prepared and easily made litany of excuses nor am I trying to turn Teflon, the areas I need to improve on are there for all to see but so is the mass of work that continues to flood in. I have made errors many of which when considering my range and wealth of experiences have been silly. They won’t happen again. I believe that I can make those changes but I also believe that there are changes to be made from *****’s perspective too, changes that would benefit both ***** as a supplier and Fizzing Drug Store as a client.

There are two options open to us. One is to continue with the current method but by, and with all due expediency, adding more resource to the account or by a second way that would function by employing the same resource as currently used.

Print Management is a phenomenon that grew out of the much maligned trading practise formally known as print farming. Often viewed by printers as an ignoble business where an individual or small team of people service an account by acting as both sales people to that account but also as production liaisons who administer their client print needs through a portfolio of co-suppliers. This concept was taken, enlarged upon and transmuted into what is now Print Management. I have met **** Williams and I know ******lip his son, the owner of P Printer. I am aware how this mode of operation functions. I am also aware of its limitations, its shortcomings but also its vast potential for growth if allowed to make further dramatic changes to its own existing template. Firstly though it has to accepted that Print management is not a production function but an administrative role; one that, by its very nature, has to ensure that expenditure is more than matched by income.

Currently we are following rather than setting someone else’s agenda. Fizzing Drug Store have a bespoke problem and have selected a bog standard solution; one that can never, under the existing parameters, fully deliver the service it expects if not demands.

In layman’s terms the process works like this:

Client instructs agency who in turn select printer who then prints and delivers the job. There is one problem with this method – costs are not controlled nor monitored, the agency has carte blanche to do as they chose. However, in production terms it works well Effectively, Fizzing Drug Store have put in place yet another conduit in the production pipeline. We now have the client who instructs agency that in turn design the piece, a specification is then raised, often incorrectly, which goes to a print manager who then chooses from a huge cache of co-suppliers the preferred resource . With this method we have cost control but production is fractured, disjointed for as the conduit grows thinner through the process so this in turn effectively degrades service. The solution is simple and, as it benefits both Fizzing Drug Store and *****, surely the better of two options.

Option One

Greater resource is added to the existing method by increasing the ***** account management team to three people. With the additional revenue from Premiums and animal Health the extra expenditure is adequately covered bearing in mind that current turnover is 2.2 million and will increase to 2.7 with this additional work. This of course is without the as yet untapped Animal Vaccine work which is approximately another 200,000 pounds of business. This method may work but it is in fact no different to the previous process as used by ***. All accounts should be divided between however many Account Managers there are working on the Fizzing Drug Store contract. This should be allocated by brand so that, for example, Brian looks after C*****x, I****a and A****l Health, Russell T*****z, F******n and G********n. Obviously, there would be far more than mentioned here.

Option Two

Remove ***** from the four tiered conduit leaving client, agency and printer to perform their roles with the agency dealing directly with the printer. Attach ***** as governing administrator who manage all co-suppliers including paper requirements by sourcing best rates for standard and agreed paper stocks for client [2.b]; the roster of co-suppliers who are vigorously monitored and selected [2.c]; the agency who are given a strict list of suppliers they may be sub-contracted to. [2.d].

[2.b] ***** retain total control of paper buying and co-supplier performance by selecting the optimum, pre-selected paper stocks via negotiated prices that favour Fizzing Drug Store but ensure a healthy mark-up for *****. Any retrospective rebate schemes would be confidential and apply only to *****.

[2.c] ***** maintain strict price, quality and performance indicators constantly assessing co-suppliers. All co-suppliers would form part of the ***** chain and would be governed by the self same exclusive strictures including invoicing and pricing. The self same mark-up system would be employed. The self-same profit margins would exist. Should a co-supplier fail to achieve the agreed standards they would drop from being a premium supplier to be replaced by one from the second division. Obviously this would need input from client and agency.

[2.d]. Agency would send all Fizzing Drug Store/***** specs to suppliers, liaising with them to ensure comprehensive understanding. Co-suppliers would load quotes onto P2 which would be forwarded onto relevant client by the in house Fizzing Drug Store/***** team. The agency would remain unaware of price unless client should wish to inform them. Confidentiality would remain paramount.

[2.d.i]. Agency numbers would need to be reduced to ten, certainly no more than fifteen. All agencies would have to exclusively use Fizzing Drug Store/***** appointed co-suppliers. No other agency or co-supplier could be used by Fizzing Drug Store personnel. This would have to be enforced by Fizzing Drug Store to ensure strict control

During the course of any given job, even the highly sensitive ones and those prone to production issues, not one single representative from ***** is present at the printing stage. This is already a source of consternation to Fizzing Drug Store’s marketers but one, under this method, that could easily be addressed. This would improve quality of service by reducing the risks of errant print jobs.

The way to sell my proposal to Fizzing Drug Store would be to highlight the benefits as profiled above and detailed below:

• Creating a closer link between client and production facility enabling tighter control with expedient delivery.

• Stronger quality control over client facing account managers, creative agency and co-suppliers.

• Ensuring a lengthy relationship between Fizzing Drug Store and ***** that borders on symbiosis.

The concerns from ***** will be multitude:

1. That they are not fulfilling the precise role as stipulated in the contract

2. That the agencies will be able to somehow use their connection with client and co-suppliers to undermine *****’s part in the process.

3. That the potential European jewel in the crown may suffer if not controlled in the same manner as currently employed.

4. That they may lose revenue.

5. That Fizzing Drug Store will not accept having ***** effectively control their errant agency roster.

6. That Fizzing Drug Store will baulk at having a new, bold but untried replacement process foisted on them so soon after signing the contract.

7. That this is not the core function of *****.

The concerns are easily answered:

1. ***** will be proving to the client that having assessed the current process and spotted its obvious deficiencies that they are capable and proactive enough to offer other viable solutions.

2. By reducing the agency roster to manageable proportions, something I believe Fizzing Drug Store would welcome, whilst also holding the reins in terms of paper and co-suppliers supply, any agency will find it practically impossible to usurp *****. This coupled with the contractual obligations would ensure that the agencies are no longer the concern they historically have been.

3. The proposed process would increase *****’s hold on Fizzing Drug Store and not reduce it. Once a common paper stock(s) have been agreed on along with an effective roster of Europe wide co-suppliers the same principles would apply.

4. By controlling all base costs, i.e. paper and supply chain there can be no loss of revenue.

5. Fizzing Drug Store would welcome such controls as they, Procurement certainly, have said as much. During the early stages of the contract the idea of *** extending their creative in house design team was put forward to seven of the then twenty four account/brand managers. All of who said they would welcome such an initiative and for two reasons: 1. It is more cost effective. 2. Control.

6. Fizzing Drug Store may, at first hearing of a change in the contract, question why. Once the rationale behind the proposed change is explained and the subsequent benefits afforded illustrated, they will bite the hand off ***** to accept it. Bear in mind that they are faced with a group of Brand Managers that do not have time to be laden down with heavy administration duties. They, the Brand Managers would rather, for convenience sake, pass that role over to, and thereby make the one connection with, a single source of control. By having ***** remove themselves from that process, the consequence of such a move enacts positively with them and with their bosses who desperately need both cost controls and expedient production with rigid quality controls enforced.

7. The core function of ***** cannot be to glibly sail the print management oceans using the same tried and tested charts. They may have worked well for them in the past and undoubtedly will continue to do so but when ***** enter new and unknown waters whose depths offer riches sufficient to bring them great wealth then surely it is only common sense to re-write those charts to suit the current situation? It can only be by being proactive and flexible whilst offering a degree of insight that ***** can assure a great many years of mutually acceptable prosperity to Fizzing Drug Store.

I strongly suspect that any idea of radical change will be swiftly pushed to one side leaving the existing situation in place. Nonetheless lack of innovation leads to stagnation.

I hope this brief report with its well-meant suggestions is taken in both the positive and constructive way it is intended. I wish to be a part of ***** enjoying its success whilst at the same time safeguarding my own. I truly believe that my proposal would ensure that ***** would be able bind themselves to Fizzing Drug Store in a manner that would be very hard to break. Such a relationship as I envisage here, symbiotic as I suggest, would last for a great many years giving ***** the much needed revenue to feed its entrepreneurial heart but also fund its growth to become the leading light of Print Management.

End of Report

It should be noted that all proposals, apart from one, were ignored. I continued to struggle with the workload. To give some perspective my colleague who had worked for ***** for four years had completed in that time  under 1700 jobs. My other colleague who joined a month after I started the function produced less than 500 jobs. I produced 957. I verbally complained to my line manager who ignored me. I then, in January 2012 following a stressful Christmas period sent an E-mail again asking for help and requesting brands to be managed individually and not through a single conduit - me. This never happened.

all words and art are copyright © of Russell 'C.J' Duffy.To view my books on Amazon/Kindle go here: -- For another side of CJ go here: sOMeThiNg For tHE wEeKeND, SiR?

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