The Benefits of Using the Right Vendor Instead of In-House Resources
by Paul J. Crecca, President and CFO of Westchester Publishing Services
In my previous article, “The Benefits of Sending Pre-Press Production Work to a Vendor,” I talked about the potential cost savings when using a large pre-press production vendor with an India based composition house vs. handling this pre-press work in-house. In this article, I would like to discuss the question of vendor quality compared to the quality of final work product produced by in-house staff.
To jump right in, let me give you two key reasons why a large vendor can (let me emphasize “large” and “can,” which I’ll come back to) achieve better work product quality than in-house staff:
1. Expert Staff – The professionals and staff handling each task along the production workflow are specialists, experts in performing their specific responsibility – back to the time-honored principle – practice (or experience) makes perfect. Adding to this, because a service vendor must have experts in each task along the workflow, they must ensure each expert is well and frequently trained – otherwise, they will lose the game.
2. Quality Controls – Any good service provider knows that despite having experts handling each task, those experts are human beings, and they will occasionally make mistakes. Thus any good service vendor knows they must have comprehensive Quality Control procedures to identify and correct any errors that might occur.
A publisher can certainly bring on experts in any and all tasks in their production workflow just as a service provider does. But is it possible once the publisher has brought in that expert “shortstop” to keep the shortstop playing in that position full time? Without a substantial volume of projects flowing through the workflow, and all the other positions filled with their own experts (1st base, catcher, etc.), I submit the answer is no, it’s not possible for that in-house expert to only handle one key responsibility. Then how much training, most importantly on-going training do those in-house experts receive? I’ve worked in several very large companies, and job-specific training after day one was non-existent. As a practical matter and a reality, it’s just not possible for a publisher to maintain experts at each stage of the pre-press production workflow.
As a vendor providing a service where product quality can mean the difference between a successful business and total business failure, it would be playing Russian roulette not to have comprehensive Quality Control procedures in place. In this case, we’re talking about the primary product of publishers, the books and other publications they sell, where even a single quality failure could be disastrous. At Westchester, we have QC procedures in place aimed at achieving 100% quality assurance. While it is possible for a publisher to have similar QC procedures in place, often the pressure of keeping internal costs low wins out over having the extra staff necessary to perform those QC functions. Ultimately, the risk of quality issues getting through to final publications are a trade-off these publishers live with, but they don’t have to.
Now let’s come back to why a “large” vendor “can”.
The importance of being a “large” vendor is related to the challenge of a publisher having experts in each key position along the workflow. In order to maintain experts in each key position, there must be a volume of work to keep them engaged and productive in that position. If you only keep an in-house paginator engaged part-time setting pages in InDesign – and doing completely different tasks the rest of the time – will they ever be as good and efficient as someone doing the same task full time? Being a large vendor ensures the volume of work necessary to keep the experts in place in all positions at all times, performing at the top of their game.
The importance above of saying a vendor “can,” relates to a common complaint in today’s pre-press production service market. Large service providers in this space have the resources and the necessity to implement the comprehensive QC procedures which ensure very high-quality end product – but many do not. We at Westchester are baffled by this but take pride in separating our company from those vendors who cannot deliver near-perfect quality. Once again, we aim to achieve 100% quality assurance for all our publisher clients.
At this point you might be asking, can a vendor provide all this, experts along the entire workflow plus comprehensive quality control procedures? The answer is yes, tying back to key points in my previous article about higher vendor efficiency resulting from larger volumes as well as an extremely cost-efficient workforce on the typesetting side of the workflow.
Westchester Publishing Services with our 40+ U.S. based production editors/project managers, 350+ network of copyeditors, a U.S. based customer service department, and 100% company owned and U.S. managed composition/typesetting house located in India, is the only U.S. employee-owned company of scale focused solely on pre-press production services. We’ll leave the printing to the experts in that field, but only after we take care of the coordination and hand-off of your final print files with your designated printer.
I would love to know what you think – please comment below.