Fulfillment - SM1Even though summer is at its peak, this is the time of year we begin to hear our customers’ conversations about evaluating costs and processes for next year’s continuing education budget.

Managing your association’s budget is always a complicated balancing act, and if you’re in the same boat as our customers, there’s rarely enough to go around. Training programs are often looking to expand by adding courses and offering more sessions of the more popular courses.

These initiatives take staff time and money—resources that always seem to be in short supply. The question becomes how to make the most of the budget you have to offer the best continuing education opportunities to learners.

When training professionals share their concerns with us, they bring up these three challenges more than any others:

  1. Surprise price increases: Over time, prices have increased, with no notification from their print vendor(s). If a vendor fails to tell you about a price increase, imagine what else the printer may be hiding from you. Has print quality declined? That adds insult to the injury of increased pricing.
  2. Comprehensive evaluation of print equipment leases: Does it still make sense to use in-house print and copier equipment? Is it economical, when you factor in the cost of the equipment itself, managing supplies, and using internal staff? Is the equipment capable of producing high-quality work? Could you substantially improve the print quality—without additional cost to your bottom line?
  3. Opportunity cost of using internal staff for order fulfillment: Could you better utilize your human resources? Has international shipping complicated things for internal staff? What would your program look like if the hours spent on packing boxes and shipping could be reallocated to, say, membership, or marketing, or developing new courses?

As you look forward to 2016, consider how the printing and fulfillment of your association’s continuing education materials could be handled more efficiently—and perhaps more cost-effectively as well—before the budget is settled.