Print specifications: the problem with 99% of print tenders in 2021… (and how to fix it!)
So, you’re going out to tender for printing services with a primary aim of identifying the lowest print prices? Yes, you want quality and value-add from your print suppliers, but usually the main focus of any print tender is to make sure you’re not paying over the odds and won’t be for the duration of the contract.
Because you’re asking a range of printers to quote you their best print prices, it’s therefore vital you’re absolutely specific, accurate and detailed in what you’re asking for.
I mean, if you were buying tyres, you wouldn’t let some sellers quote you for bicycle tyres and others for car tyres.
And therein lies the problem when buying print through a tender – because print is a very challenging procurement category for most buyers.
It’s not your fault of course. Very few buyers have received the training they need and many organisations don’t have the budget to put the required training in place. But the unfortunate side-effect is that you and your organisation (as well as your print supply chain) may well be the ones who suffer.
The Complexities of Specifying Print for Tenders
It’s worth knowing the difference. Any printer that complies with any of the ISO standards below will be certified. Only the approved ISO bodies in each country (such as UKAS, the UK’s only national accreditation body) are accredited to assess the standards and they (or their accredited agents) are the ones who certify printers.
At Webmart, we once calculated we offer approximately 11 billion different specifications of print. 11 billion!
You see each print project is slightly different. There are variable quantities bought, paper stocks used – processes, formats, finishings, inks, fulfilment and distribution. And within each of these areas, there are a multitude of options to consider.
Consider paper. We have around 300 different papers on our SAAS print pricing platform. Each of these can be cut in a wide range of sizes and printed-on using several different processes; then they can be bound, folded, covered and finished in thousands of different ways.
And each of these different treatments have a cost implication.
Which means, when you’re buying print or specifying print for a tender, each of these aspects must be:
- a) Fully considered in every detail
- b) Correctly specified so every aspect is noted in a format that all printers will understand
On point a) the whole process starts with your print requirements and with understanding what you’re asking for. You need to know – when you’ve a piece of print in front of you – exactly what you’re looking at and how to turn that into a print specification.
Which if you’re not an expert buyer, is very much easier said than done.