Trends in Print and Mail

The Berkshire Company Blog

Why Use the RFP Process? Because it works!

Posted by Mark Fallon on Apr 18, 2017 9:48:56 AM

Recently, I participated in an online discussion about the Request for Proposal (RFP) process. It was similar to the conversations I have with clients when we recommend using an RFP to select a new vendor for equipment, software or services. In both cases, the argument revolves around whether the results justify the hard work and time required.

To be clear, a well-executed RFP requires substantial effort. At a high-level, the process includes the following steps:

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Operations Management / Technology / Outsourcing

Color, Color, Everywhere

Posted by Mark Fallon on Apr 11, 2017 5:01:00 AM

My document production team was excited. We’d already surpassed our goal of driving down the costs of color printing down to less than 35 cents a page. With the installation of our new digital press, we’d cut those costs in half – less than 15 cents per page. For full color!

This was in the late 1990s, when I was the Vice President of Document Technology & Delivery at State Street Corporation. We’d just installed the IBM model of Xeikon’s digital press; one of the first roll-fed, full-color digital printers. It was a major leap forward for the team, with a steep learning curve. Success was the result of a lot of hard work and late nights.

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Operations Management / Technology

Selecting the Right Software

Posted by Mark Fallon on Apr 4, 2017 5:00:00 AM

Back in the 1990s, I developed a presentation entitled “Information Technology for Mail Center Managers.” The section on purchasing software was pretty basic. Were your applications on a mainframe, a server or desktop? If a server, what version of Microsoft? If desktop, were you Microsoft or Apple? In the main categories – document composition, address management and package tracking – there were just a few vendors to consider.

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Industry Vendors / Operations Management / Technology

Robots – Coming Soon to a Mailbox Near You

Posted by Mark Fallon on Mar 7, 2017 5:00:00 AM

While there have been a lot of stories about companies exploring the use of airborne drones to make deliveries, another form of technology has quietly been making significant inroads – robots.

Last week, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a law allowing delivery robots to operate on sidewalks and crosswalks in Virginia. From published reports, this is the first legislation in any state explicitly allowing the use of these types of robots. The law has strict limitations – the devices can only weigh up to 50 pounds, must be monitored remotely and are limited to speeds of 10 miles per hour – but this is just the beginning.

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United States Postal Service / Technology

Who's On First?

Posted by Mark Fallon on Feb 28, 2017 9:15:59 PM

Last week saw the announcement of another merger in the print/mail industry. Two national document outsourcing companies will form a new entity, with an interesting new name.

Using LinkedIn and Twitter, plus Google alerts and subscriptions to various industry newsletters, I try to stay up to date with the latest news. Lately it seems that even this isn’t enough. Product offerings, corporate structures and company brands change more frequently than the roster of the Boston Red Sox. I look out at the field, see a lot of unfamiliar names and wonder, “Who’s on first?”

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Industry Vendors / Technology / Outsourcing

Trends in Print and Mail - The Top 10 Posts from 2016

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jan 3, 2017 5:00:00 AM


Exigent postage rate increases were repealed. The upcoming rates changes will have some positive impact for First Class Mailers. Selecting vendor-partners, for technology or outsourcing services, remains a challenge. And legislative reform was seriously considered by Congress – before ultimately deciding to do nothing. These were just a few of the major stories impacting our industry over the last year.

We here at The Berkshire Company can't predict what changes 2017 will bring, but we do know more changes are on the horizon – from the implementation of “USPS Marketing Mail” to new technologies to reinforcing good management practices. We plan on covering those, and other issues, in the coming year. If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see covered, leave a note in the comments, or send me an email at mmf@berkshire-company.com.

In case you missed them, here are the 10 most read posts from 2016:

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United States Postal Service / Industry Vendors / Operations Management / National Postal Forum / Technology

The Extra Ounce

Posted by Mark Fallon on Dec 20, 2016 5:01:00 AM

* Actually, it’s an extra 1.5 ounces!

At the 2016 National Postal Forum in Nashville, Postmaster General (PMG) Megan Brennan announced that the US Postal Service (USPS) would file to expand the weight allowances for commercial, presorted First-Class letter mail. For some time, mailers have been able to add a second ounce to this weight category at no additional charge. In Nashville, PMG Brennan stated that the USPS would increase the weight limit to 3 ounces. Well – she more than delivered – as the 2017 rates include letter-sized, automation mail up to 3.5 ounces.

This is a great opportunity for mailers. This weight increase means savings of between $0.25 and $0.37 per piece for many mailers. Additional pages, heavier stock, more inserts – the opportunities are substantial. What should mailers do?

To start – print and mail operations managers should schedule meetings with the marketing and sales departments of their companies to explain the new rate structure. Print/Mail service providers should be setting up similar briefings with their customers. For example, additional inserts in bills, notices and statements are an easy method of increasing the value of the mail.

But that’s just the beginning. Mailers should reconsider the design of every mailpiece and exploit the prospective ways to take advantage of this rule change. Are there flat pieces that can be redesigned as 6 x 9 letter mail? The savings would be substantial. As a reminder, commercial, automation letter mail must meet the physical standards set in the Domestic Mail Manual, specifically Section 201.1.1.1:

Machinable letter-size mail is:

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United States Postal Service / Operations Management / Technology

Developing a Technology Investment Strategy for Print and Mail Operations (Part 1)

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jun 7, 2016 5:00:00 AM

When I started working in the mailing industry over 30 years ago, postage amounts were set by turning small dials on a meter. The latest model copiers included two paper trays, instead of the standard single tray. Word processors produced output using a daisy-wheel printer. Fax machines, cell phones and personal computers were unknown to the general public.

Back then, it was easy to make technology purchasing decisions. There were few choices, and many of the products were so expensive, few companies could afford to make the change. It was difficult to make a business case for changing. Why would an attorney ever want to edit something with a keyboard and a screen, when they could mark up paper copies with a pen, and then have their secretary retype the document?

It may feel good to have a laugh at our attitudes in the early1980’s, but none of us know what awaits us in 2046. In fact, few of us know what new technologies will hit the market in 2017. With so many unknowns, it’s important to build a sound technology investment strategy. That strategy should consider:

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Operations Management / Technology