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Saving Ink, Maintaining Workflow

Monday, August 31, 2009 by Slaughter Development

Every day, over 600,000 copies of the Washington Post hit newsstands and front porches. Printing now requires 30% less ink yet no additional frustration.

According to an article in Newspapers and Technology, the upgrade has been a success:

The Washington Post is among the latest papers to deploy ink-savings software, in its case capping off a two-year project to study the technology.

The Post rolled out GMG Americas’ inkOptimizer app this spring, following an evaluation that included putting four different vendors through their paces, according to Kevin Conner, quality assurance manager.

Although reducing the total ink required to print a paper is primarily a cost saving measure, the Post understands the potential impact on productivity. “We had some established workflows,” one staffer remarked, “and we didn’t want to change those.” How does an organization conduct a major operational improvement without affecting daily routines?

The team at the Washington Post made a bold choice: implement the upgrade so seamlessly that it requires no changes to workflow. From the coverage:

Deciding the best practical test was to wait for reaction, Conner didn’t tell staff or advertisers about the new app ahead of its deployment.

“Two to three weeks after we implemented it, I received a comment from our photo department about how much better the photos were printing,” he said. “This has been a win-win.”

Advertisers also took notice, according to Bugg.

“Of course, the potential reaction from advertisers was really important to us,” he said. “And we’ve actually seen improvements and had a lot of positive feedback.”

This story demonstrates an exceptional commitment to stakeholder satisfaction: upper management is pleased because of a reduction in costs; staff has an improved product without any change in routine; customers are positive about the increased printing quality of their advertisements. As it sounds, it would benefit other organizations to study this event as a best practice for enhancing in-house technology.

At Slaughter Development, we remind organizations that sometimes the best way to make a change is to ensure it doesn’t require change from others. Process improvement and workflow management is about embracing routines, not disrupting established patterns. If you are considering adopting a new software package, even for only a few people, contact Slaughter Development. Our Service Integration product helps companies make use of technologies without the usual frustration of unexpected change.

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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

Fire Protection Workflow - Every week, Muncie, Indiana firefighters dutifully submit maintenance reports to headquarters. Until last month, this was done by hand—by actually driving fire trucks across town to deliver the paperwork! Read on »
The Importance of Workflow - Improving workflow doesn’t require intimate knowledge of technical systems. As one blogger demonstrates, it simply requires keen observation. Read on »
Unsolved Due to Workflow Error - The British government maintains an ambitious registry of over four million DNA samples used in crime fighting. However, some major data entry problems have left nearly 200 crimes undetected. Read on »
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