January 22, 2013

The Real Cost of Handling Print Jobs Internally


When it comes to pricing a print project, the “hard” costs — like printing and distribution — are easy to compute. The “soft” costs, on the other hand — those factors such as print design, editorial direction, etc. — are tougher to put a price tag on, especially if the work is done internally.

How much do these projects really cost? InfoTrends, a market research and consulting firm, found that it’s the non-print costs that outweigh the actual costs of printing something — and that makes sense. Project management and editorial are time-consuming components that require a certain level of expertise, and, thus, payment.

If you only look at the invoice from the printer, you’re missing the true cost of your project. InfoTrends found that printing and finishing accounted for about 35% of costs — the biggest chunk of all. However, editorial was 33% of the total cost, followed by creative (whether internal or external) at 21%, project management at 8%, shipping/distribution at 3%, and warehousing/archiving at less than 1%.

Put another way, that print job you thought cost about $3,500 actually cost you more than $8,700 to handle internally, when soft costs are included.

To know what you’re really spending, you have to add up all these variables. If the work is done in-house, consider the time employees are devoting to a particular project as well as their salaries. Consider also whether the time spent handling this has already been allocated or whether this takes away from other job duties. Doing this kind of analysis will give you an idea of what’s a prudent use of your time to tackle on your own and what might be better to take to a creative services agency or freelance designer.

“Companies should determine the level of savings that could be achieved by outsourcing to the right service provider,” said Steve Adoniou, director of InfoTrends’ Consulting Group, in a press release. “They should consider one who not only could save money on printing and related services through operational efficiency gains, but could also provide services beyond printing to reduce the costs of non-print-related activities by delivering improved and consistent product quality, quicker turnaround times, and enhanced performance to service level agreements (SLAs).”

Mario Medina

Mario is the Creative Director of madison/miles media. He has a wife, two kids, a dog, a fish (but it might be dead — hard to tell) and an unhealthy obsession with Batman.