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Goodbye Job Cost Accountancy--Dickeson

January 2001
We've never seriously considered process costing for printing, have we? All we know is job cost accounting. That's our business model—our security blanket. We see our business as the sum total of a series of jobs. We may have just about run out of time for that model. It's seduced us into overcapacity and razor-thin margins for years.

I'm slowly getting the feeling that things began to change with the fax machine in the late '80s. It got so easy for print buyers to spew out a bunch of "Requests for Quotation" on the fax machine. The feeling of relationships became just a tad less personal. Competitive intensity increased. Each day, we sensed more buyers shopping prices for their print jobs. Agree? Still, we clung to our job cost business model.

Then we entered the digital communication age in the late '90s with the Internet and its World Wide Web. In late '98 we began to hear the term printing e-commerce. With a rush, it's upon us. The fax machine is now on the down slope of obsolescence. Many of us are rebellious about e-commerce. We resent those quasi-brokers out there trying to shave off a bit of our margins, while at the same time increasing the intensity of competition beyond the old-fashioned fax by some geometric order of magnitude. "Not fair," we shout. "Go away," we cry.

But it is fair and it won't go away. Now that broadband is upon us, digital everything is sweeping in like a tsunami. The separations, proofs, layouts, graphics, mail lists, photos, quote requests, orders, invoices, changes, corrections and supply chains are increasingly digital each day. That's just the way it is and, if we don't like it, we can go into a closet and pout.

Make Your Own Terms
We can't change progress. We're in the communications business and it is we who must change. And we shall. So let's suck it up and get going on our exciting new life. The old job cost model is obsolete; it served us poorly anyway. The old King is dead. Long live the new King: Statistical Print Production Management.

Don't like the term "e-commerce?" Forget it. Use other non-irritating words. How about CyberPrint? Make up your own. Just keep the emotion out of what we must do to accommodate the new communication medium. You can use the central server of an application service provider or you can do all or any part of it yourself. You choose based on the depth of your pocket.

 

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