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Should I Bring My Production Printing In-House? (Pros & Cons)

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To outsource production print jobs or keep them in-house—that is the question. 

One thing is for sure—your organization or company's print needs far outweigh the capacity or capabilities of your trusty multifunction device (MFD). One solution would be to outsource your high-volume or high-complexity print jobs to a third-party print shop. Another option is to acquire production print equipment and keep the operation in-house.  Decisions, decisions, decisions. The answer to this dilemma, however, may become more evident by answering a handful of questions. 

  1. What is your print volume? 
  2. What are your print needs? 
  3. How much do you spend on production printing jobs? 
  4. Do you want to be responsible for a print shop?

1. What is your print volume? 

Whether you need to print bulletins for your church or brochures for your business, either job is beyond the efficient capacity of your existing printers. Still, what regular volume justifies an in-house solution versus outsourcing to a third-party print shop?

How Production Print Volume Impacts Outsourcing

When opting to outsource your production print jobs, the price per unit decreases as the volume increases. While this can be nice for companies and organizations with higher volume needs, this means that lower-volume orders can get disproportionately expensive. While there are some occasions when your organization can actually save money with a third-party print shop by ordering more than you need, this also means many of these materials will go to waste or leave you needing to store the excess. 

How Production Print Volume Impacts In-House Solutions

An in-house solution, by contrast, may seem like the ideal solution—you only print what you need when you need it with no minimums. Though this is the case, your print volumes also need to justify acquiring the printer hardware in the first place along with the necessary consumables—such as ink, toner, paper, and the like. Unlike outsourcing, which essentially allows you to rent time on production printers that are likely always running anyway, your volumes may need to justify the expense of acquiring and running such devices to your CFO or board. 

2. What are your print needs? 

How Production Print Style Impacts Outsourcing

Many may first seek the services of a third-party print shop for a certain printed document product—an order of brochures, spiral-bound presentation booklets, wide-format items—the list goes on. Such needs can usually be fulfilled by any print shop worth their salt in limited quantities. However, the more customized the style of your document, the more they may cost. These items may also take longer to produce. Still, you may be willing to wait a little bit longer or pay a little bit more if it means the fulfillment of an order of saddle-stitched books or a glossy banner. 

How Production Print Style Impacts In-House Solutions

For those organizations that are tired of waiting extended periods or paying exorbitant fees for specialized document printing and finishing, the in-house solutions may be just the ticket. With no minimum requirements and complete control of print task priority, you can usually leapfrog other print jobs for much less. This sounds nice enough, but you should also consider the need for specialized devices and finishing units if you want to be able to fulfill such unique orders in-house. Do you need to prepare an order of perfect-bound books for an upcoming convention? You're going to need to have a saddle-stitch finishing unit in your shop. 

3. How much do you spend on production printing jobs? 

How Production Print Pricing Impacts Outsourcing

Most companies or organizations only outsource production print jobs to third-party shops for one reason: they don't feel they can afford the devices themselves. For many, that's entirely true. If a business or organization is only spending $1,200-to-$1,500 a month outsourcing production print jobs, they're likely not printing enough to justify acquiring the necessary production print equipment to justify keeping such devices in-house. 

How Production Print Pricing Impacts In-House Solutions

While most don't feel they could ever afford an in-house print shop, they may only feel this way because they're not precisely sure what they spend on outsourced production printing. Beyond these entities, others may have never considered acquiring their own devices or setting up an in-house production print facility. For companies or organizations that have not (a) looked at their outsourcing spend lately or (b) considered the option of an in-house solution, they may be shocked or at least pleasantly surprised by their findings. 

4. Do you want to be responsible for a print shop?

While having a production print shop at your disposal sounds awesome, it also comes with one tiny drawback: having to run your own production print shop. For some, this may feel like yet another pain in the neck. For others, it may be an incredible way to potentially save money, secure operations, and get their print jobs delivered according to their own schedule. 

Other Pros & Cons Third-Party Print Shops

  • No print shop necessary. One of the greatest advantages to outsourcing your production print jobs to a third-party shop is not having to oversee such a print shop yourself. That means no extra personnel, location, or equipment responsibilities for your organization. 
  • No control of price, task priority, or security. When you don't run the shop, you don't make the rules. That means that you will be charged whatever rate the shop feels is best with job delivery at their own pace. The security of sensitive documents is also always in question when leveraging a third-party option. 

Other Pros & Cons of In-House Production Solutions

  • No minimum print size. When you manage the print shop, there is no such thing as a print job "minimum" if you say so. Say "so long" to the bulk-buying game. 
  • You have to run a print-shop. Running your own print shop means, you know, running your own print shop. This may require finding a place to house it, hiring and training new personnel, as well as handling device issues. 

The Decision is Still Case-By-Case

A small business may value having their own production print shop. A larger organization may still prefer to outsource print jobs. Though we're happy to help you discover what questions to ask yourself and your organization to determine which setup makes the most sense, the answers are up to you.

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