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    « January 2007 | Main | March 2007 »

    February 22, 2007

    Offensive Digital Services

    Most digital services are a result of a company realizing that they are doing more work than they used to and trying to cover their costs.  For example companies are being asked to scan and index documents into a digital plan room.  There is a labor and technology cost associated with performing this service.  In the past many reprographers offered these services for free to get more printing, but quickly realized that as demand for these services increased so did their cost.  A decrease in profit prompted the need to charge extra for this service.  This is a reactionary or defensive creation of additional service revenue.  As more AEC companies use technology and digital content in their day to day work there are more services that can be offered to make their lives easier?  Can you take work off their desk?  You have made an investment in people and technology.  Can you go on the offensive and seek additional services with this investment?  You don't need to wait for your profits to be eroded.  Proactively look for opportunities for digital services.

    February 21, 2007

    Digital Services are Just the Beginning

    There is a lot of focus on in the AEC reprographics industry on charging for digital services.  The IRgA has created a committee chaired by Chuck Gremillion that is setting standards for the industry.  I see more and more companies offering new services to the construction industry, and I am convinced this is just the beginning of something bigger.  It is the realization that there is value provided to the construction industry over and above putting dots on paper.

    February 15, 2007

    Documenting Workflow

    Before you start to implement changes in your workflow it is important to understand what the current workflow is.  Your current process can be documented using flow charting tools such as Microsoft Visio or even a free web based tool called Gliffy.  You need make sure you document workflow as it is today, not as you would like it to be.  You can work towards an ideal workflow, but if you don't understand deeply all of the permutations and exceptions you have today it is very difficult to implement a new workflow.  I'd recommend involving several people who are involved in production and map out every step in the process.  It is important to identify and document every time you do something different.  For example with documents from contractors we do this and with documents from architects we do something else.

    There was some excellent insight into this process in the IRgA Webinar on February 7th.  A recording of the webinar is available to all IRgA members.


    In a recent seminar I promised to publish some templates for people to see. 

    Here is a Visio and pdf document to review.  If you choose to use it as a starting point let me make the disclosure that this document is far from complete.  Based on my experience with reprographers there are many more steps and exceptions that need to be documented.

    February 07, 2007

    Business Planning

    Here is an interesting blog article from Guy Kawasaki: Is a Business Plan Necessary?  It discusses a Jan 9, 2007 Wall Street Journal article.  The conclusion is that business plans are generally not necessary.  I have raised substantial amounts of money and tend to agree that a 30 page business plan is not necessary, but I don't believe that you can operate your business without a plan.  I am a strong believer in the adage, "Those who fail to plan, plan to fail".  At PLP we use a methodology from Verne Harnish where the result of our planning session is a One Page Strategic plan.  It focuses on alignment and simplicity.  It keeps blends the 10+ year vision with short term actions.  I'd highly recommend it to anyone.  Verne also has a great book called Mastering the Rockefeller Habits which outlines a very practical, action oriented business planning and execution methodology.  I highly recommend it to any business owner.