It's Time to Track Errors--Dickeson
Communication—defective, non-accountable, information interchange between customer and printer, between printer and supplier, and within the printing company itself, is a major, if not THE major, cause of non-fulfilled customer requirements. People make mistakes. It's not that they want to make mistakes. People want to do the right thing, be appreciated, respected and please customers.
Yes, we all have attention lapses, get a bit careless from time to time. There's no known system that's going to correct all of that. But if we can get a measure of accountability in place, we can identify mistake-prone people and either retrain or move them to another position.
There's an old parlor game called "Gossip." Recall it? It's where one person whispers a secret in the ear of A, A in turn whispers it to C, C to D, D to...and when N restates it to the originator it's substantially distorted. Customer specifications enter a requirements "gossip" circle at the printing plant and the product doesn't fulfill the customer's requirements. And which person or persons in that gossip circle changed the meaning by omission, commission or interpretation? Who's accountable?
Your Starting Point
Start with your internal or intranet plant system. Does it provide electronic job sheets or job jackets that are constantly updated? Is every entry stamped with time, date and employee identifier? Are all change orders and customer revisions constantly entered? Those systems are available from printing software suppliers. With such a system in place, the gossip circle in the plant is terminated. The buck stops right where the digital archive places it. Internal accountability is established. The Who, What, When, Where error source is fixed.
For customers and suppliers, we have a communication system taking form called print e-commerce. This enables direct digital links for the production process. Customer specifications are downloaded to the server computer of the printer and become a digital RFQ—Request For Quotation. A responsive quotation flows back over the Internet to the buyer for acceptance or modification.