Effective Strategies for Managing Your Outsourced Printing Services

In today’s fast-paced business world, outsourcing non-core tasks is a common strategy. One such task is printing services, an area often overlooked but crucial for a company’s branding and communication. But how do you ensure you’re getting the most out of your outsourced printing services?

The Benefits of Outsourcing Printing Services

As we delve deeper into the specifics of managing outsourced printing services, it’s crucial to highlight why businesses lean towards this strategic move. Let’s look into the clear benefits that follow the decision to outsource, namely cost-effectiveness, access to advanced technology, and enabling firms to focus on their core business functions.


Outsourcing printing services gives room for considerable savings. When you choose to outsource, you eliminate the expense of maintaining in-house printing facilities. You can look forward to reducing not only equipment and supply costs but also ongoing overheads such as repairs, maintenance, and staff training. Furthermore, outsourced printing services often offer flexible pricing models, allowing businesses to pay only for what they use. For example, let’s imagine a company printing quarterly reports. Instead of maintaining costly equipment, they could engage an outsourced service, reducing costs and increasing overall economic efficiency.

Access to Advanced Technology

Secondly, outsourcing means getting seamless access to advanced printing technology. It’s a given that the printing industry evolves quickly, introducing advanced machinery and technologies to increase efficiency and quality. By outsourcing, you receive the benefit of this cutting-edge technology without bearing the cost and complexity of owning it yourself. For instance, consider the rapid advancements in 3D printing technology. If a company wanted to experiment with this, it’d be significantly cheaper to outsource to a provider already equipped with 3D printing technology, rather than investing in resources to develop this capability in-house.

Focus on Core Business Functions

Finally, by outsourcing non-core tasks like printing, your employees get to channel their effort and time into the company’s primary operations. Let’s say your company specializes in producing organic skincare products. Naturally, your focus lies in product development, quality assurance, and marketing. Outsourcing printing services for packaging would free up your internal team to focus on these core functions, thereby improving productivity and driving business growth. By redirecting attention to what truly matters, you can accelerate your path to success. So in summary, managing outsourced printing services comes with undeniable benefits – it’s cost-effective, grants access to the latest technology, and enables a laser-focus on prime business processes.

Evaluating Potential Printing Partners

When it comes to outsourcing printing services, not all providers are created equal. Various factors come into play when selecting a reliable printing partner. We’ll dive into some critical aspects I consider: reputation and reliability, quality of services, as well as turnaround times and scalability.

Reputation and Reliability

It’s imperative to engage with a printing partner who has a reputation for reliability. I do my homework by reviewing customer testimonials, looking at company case studies, and even requesting client references. It’s important to take note of the provider’s industry experience and market standing. For instance, an established player like FedEx Office boasts years of experience and a massive client base, attesting to their credibility.

Quality of Services

The quality of printed material directly represents a company’s image. Hence, it’s crucial to examine the quality of work a printing partner produces. I often request sample work to assess the print output quality. Paying attention to details like color consistency and material quality become vital in this stage. Vistaprint, for example, is a company that is often commended for its high-quality print outputs.

Turnaround Times and Scalability

A major advantage of outsourcing printing services is the ability to meet tight deadlines and scale services as needed. I scrutinize a printing provider’s capacity to honor quick turnaround times and their flexibility to handle larger volumes during peak business periods. Printful stands out in providing quick services while maintaining the quality of outputs. As each business is unique, aligning with a printing partner that suits specific needs is crucial.

Setting Clear Objectives and Expectations

Defining the objectives and expectations from the outsourced printing services plays an integral role in ensuring smooth operations and high-quality output. Initiating the relationship with well-defined goals provides a strong base for effective and productive collaboration.

Defining Project Scope and Deadlines

A primary step is clearly establishing the scope of the project. It consists of outlining the specifics of the work you’re delegating – the quantity of print materials, the expected print quality, and any particular design specifications. For instance, a business might require 10,000 high-quality brochures for an upcoming event. Deadlines are another aspect that require explicit articulation. Whether it’s the initial drafts or the final print output, ensure all timeframes are well communicated. For example, the aforementioned brochures might need to be ready two days before the event.

Communication and Responsiveness

Open and continuous communication ensures the outsourced partner stays aligned with your business objectives. Regular check-ins help navigate around potential challenges or misunderstood instructions. In terms of responsiveness, a potential partner’s promptness in queries, feedback, or issue resolution contributes significantly to the smooth execution of printing projects. An example of this is a company, like Printify, responding within an hour to a correction in brochure design.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs lay down the mutual understanding between businesses and outsourced printing providers, putting in writing service level expectations, delivery parameters, and penalty rules for any breach of agreement. They are vital documents that guard against quality drops and ensure timely delivery of services. FedEx Office, as an example, has a well-structured SLA that specifically details these aspects.

Overcoming Challenges with Outsourced Printing

Utilizing outsourced printing services presents its own set of challenges. However, by implementing strategic measures, one can overcome such obstacles, ensuring a smoother collaboration and more efficient production process.

Handling Quality Control Issues

Quality control stands as a significant challenge in outsourced printing. It involves a meticulous process to guarantee that each print material matches the specified standards. Appropriate outsourcing strategies, like conducting regular audits and quality checks, play a pivotal role in this scenario.

Consider hiring quality assurance specialists who have a keen eye for detail and understand the nuances of printing processes. Regular inspections can also help maintain quality standards, reducing the frequency of errors.

Use up-to-date technology, such as a digital proofing system, which provides a high-resolution preview of the final output. This prevents the occurrence of errors before the final production stage.

Resolving Delivery Delays

Timely delivery is crucial for any business. A delayed delivery poses an array of problems, impacting client relationships and the company’s reputation. In outsourced printing, unanticipated delays may occur due to events like equipment breakdown or unexpected demand surges.

To tackle this, establish clear communication lines with your outsourced printing provider. Real-time order tracking systems can play a significant role in managing delivery expectations.

To prevent last-minute rush jobs, plan tasks in advance and maintain a reasonable buffer time.

Addressing Miscommunications

Communication gaps can lead to misinterpretations and errors. Therefore, maintaining transparency and clarity in communication with outsourced printing partners is crucial.

To address miscommunication, try employing project management tools, such as Trello or Asana, that provide a clear overview of ongoing tasks and deadlines. Regularly scheduled meetings can also help clarify objectives and expectations.

Remember, a documented communication process enhances precision and predictability. So, always opt for written confirmations or instructions instead of verbal discussions. This way, there’s a record that can be referenced whenever necessary, circumventing potential misunderstandings.

Monitoring and Managing the Outsourcing Relationship

Continuing with successful printing outsourcing, this section pivots towards monitoring and managing the outsourced relationship. Vertical communication flow, sustained engagement, and dynamic adjustments to business requirements underline this process.

Regular Performance Reviews

Conducting regular performance reviews acts as the backbone of effective outsourcing management. During these periodic evaluations, comparing outputs with set benchmarks lets me gauge the efficiency of my outsourcing partner. Minutes from meetings, reports, and digital dashboards often assist in this review process. For instance, a weekly print quality report may reveal recurring subtleties that escape manual inspection. With these tools, I identify areas of success, chinks in the armor, and room for improvement, fortifying the outsourcing partnership.

Adapting to Changing Business Needs

Adapting to emerging business requirements presents a potential hurdle faced during an outsourcing partnership. It’s crucial to assess whether your current service provider can match the pace of the evolving industry. Market research, customer interaction results, and internal data analysis are a few tools I use that could come in handy to review provider adaptability. Glancing at data, if I notice an increase in demand for sustainable printing options, I’d expect my service provider to meet this shift with relative ease and precision.

When to Consider Switching Providers

While maintaining a stable relationship with a service provider aids in maintaining a harmonious workflow, sometimes switching providers becomes inevitable. Noting instances such as repeated missed deadlines, unexplained surge in costs, quality degradation, or failure to adapt to new business requirements, acts as clear signals for me to consider other options. Being aware of the market and having a few backup options, like Staples and UPS Store, helps in making a swift and efficient transition when necessary.

Preserving insights alike enables me to lead a balanced outsourcing relationship, where I master the act of steering the ship while effectively enabling my partners to manage the sails. By welcoming adaptability to the business landscape, performing regular checks, and staying well-informed about changing market conditions, I ensure that my print outsourcing operations run like a well-oiled machine.


Managing outsourced printing services doesn’t have to be daunting. It’s all about striking a balance between cost-effectiveness and quality. By choosing a reputable partner, you’re already on the right path. But don’t stop there. It’s crucial to stay proactive in overcoming any challenges that may arise. Be it quality control or delivery delays, there’s always a solution. And remember, communication is key. So, keep those lines open and clear. Regular performance reviews are also a must. They’ll help you gauge whether your outsourcing partner is keeping up with your business needs. If they’re not, don’t hesitate to switch providers. After all, your business deserves the best. So, keep adapting, stay vigilant, and embrace the benefits of outsourced printing. It’s a strategic move that can significantly boost your core business functions.