Accounting Crisis Mode –Dickeson

Our JCA (Job Cost Accounting) system is a view of BHRs (Budgeted Hourly Rates) that defies the understanding of rabbinical scholars. Job costs and ledger costs do not cross-validate. Neither provides the continuous and current monitoring of the Five Liquidity Sisters we must now have to survive.

Here’s a very recent e-mail comment from one of my long-time industry gurus: “. . . The printing processes, size of firms and the accounting approaches with computers, have all changed dramatically. I wonder if there is anyone who still keeps books and worries about cost accounting any more. With electronic imaging, all that’s left is the pressroom, and maybe some finishing. Distribution is more of the game and it’s just direct cost, isn’t it? The rest is shelf pricing, it seems to me. I could be wrong, but truly, how many printers are left to read your stuff?”

That guru is right in some respects. But his perception of commercial printing as a “shelf-pricing” commodity business is wrong, in my opinion. Perhaps some portion of the commercial printing industry is “over-the-counter” commodity transactions, but the major portion isn’t.

My perception is that commercial printing is a conversion “relationship” enterprise. Each job is a customer-specified materials conversion. Each job has varying materials, run lengths, makeup, finishing and delivery requirements. Each job is a standalone project involving human creative and esthetic components. The relationship of customer-printer is one-to-one, no different than those with a barber, hairdresser, dentist, doctor, accountant, priest or lawyer.

Why, otherwise, has Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software become such a major sub-industry (except in printing)? (Just Google “CRM” on the Internet and then browse the 10-12 pages of listings that pop up in response.) That, alone, sufficiently explains the demise of the e-bay-like Internet print buying ventures.

Are any of the printing MIS (Management Information System) suppliers) offering an adjunctive CRM module? Not to my knowledge. Why not? We haven’t demanded it and indicated a willingness to pay for it, so they won’t invest in program development. Why should they? That’s the wonderful, but sometimes fatal, loop we’ve created in our market-driven economy. We demand BHRs and JCAs. We’ll pay for them even though we don’t use them. Suppliers find their market in our misguided and outmoded needs.

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