Printing the docs in-house?

Subject: Printing the docs in-house?
From: "Geoff Hart" <Geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 1999 13:34:17 -0400

John David Hickey's employer << considering printing
our manuals in house rather than giving the job to a Printing
company. The entire software package is made up of 8
individual modules, each module getting its own manual (150
pages each on average).>>

I've done this kind of work before, and it usually becomes a
logistical and quality-control nightmare. Don't you guys have
your own jobs to do? Where do they expect you to find the
extra time? Who's keester is on the line when the inevitable
foulups happen?

<<Now, while it is true that printing inhouse reduces printing
costs (apparently it would only cost 6 cents a page)...>>

Maybe that's true for paper and ink costs alone. Maybe.
Doing your own printing is rarely cost-effective even on the
basis of materials alone (let's ignore labor for the moment)
_if_ you have anything approaching a large print run. The
guys who run Kinko's and all its competitors usually get a
better price on ink and toner, paper, binding materials, etc.,
because they buy it in much greater volume than you do.
Then there's the issue of productivity: you simply won't be
able to set up an assembly line comparable to the ones
printers use for anything like a reasonable cost.

<<I'm wondering how that cost changes when you factor in
the time and effort of overseeing the printing, cutting the
paper, and binding the books.>>

Add it up yourself and provide the boss with real data! Do up
one book by yourself, time the work, then multiply by your
hourly pay. Compare that to the printer's estimated cost per
book. Guess who's gonna come out cheaper? Just to add a
little punch, figure out how many hours per year this is going
to cost you; if you've got a large print run, you might end up
with a full person-year worth of labor required. For the coup
de grace, remind your boss that the printer probably pays his
assembly-line serfs considerably less than half what you're
earning as a skilled techwhirler, even after tacking on markup
for profits and overhead. Plus, they'll do the job faster and
with higher quality because they have better equipment.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca (Pointe-Claire, Quebec)
"Perhaps there is something deep and profound behind all those sevens, something just calling out for us to discover it. But I
that it is only a pernicious, Pythagorean coincidence." George Miller, "The Magical Number Seven" (1956)

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