Trends in Print and Mail

The Berkshire Company Blog

Mail Center Security: Handling With Care

Posted by Mark Fallon on Aug 8, 2017 5:00:00 AM

“Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge.” – Ben Franklin

Recent incidents involving suspicious mail highlight the need for an effective mail center security plan, paired with ongoing training. In Kansas City, MO, a suspicious package that smelled like ammonia sickened several people at an IRS building. In Queensbury, NY a suspicious package delivered to the courthouse was sent through an X-ray machine, and officers observed an object that appeared to be a hand grenade.

Security in your mail center is always important, 365 days a year. Increased volumes in packages due to internet shopping can lead to a lax attitude. Managers must take a proactive approach towards security and awareness by reinforcing the basics, reexamining current plans, and increasing the amount of training.

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Mail Security / Operations Management

Not Every Proposal Wins

Posted by Mark Fallon on Aug 1, 2017 5:01:00 AM


For most of my career, I’ve been involved with requests for proposals (RFP). First, as a customer looking to purchase equipment and services. Next as a consultant, guiding my clients through the RFP process. Also as a vendor, responding to companies looking for a consultant.

Two things I’ve learned – first, there’s usually only one vendor who wins the business. Second, not every proposal submitted will be successful.

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Operations Management / Outsourcing

US Postal Service to Increase Costs of Non-Compliance

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jul 18, 2017 5:01:00 AM

While many people were celebrating Independence Day with an extra-long weekend, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) filed a price adjustment request with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on July 3, 2017. Under Docket No. R2017-7, the USPS seeks approval for changing how it verifies compliance with Move Update and to increase the assessment charges for pieces that don’t meet the standard.

Move Update, the process for updating names and addresses, is required by USPS if mailers want to receive discounted postage rates. Mailers who use the exceptional address format (e.g., Jane Doe or Current Resident) do not have to meet this requirement.

The Postal Service offers mailers four approved and two alternative Move Update methods:

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United States Postal Service / Operations Management

Selecting an Outsourcing Vendor

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jul 12, 2017 10:23:00 AM

After reviewing several options, a client decided to outsource the production and mailing of certain documents. We helped them identify vendors who had experience with their industry, and with their purchasing department, published a Request for Proposals (RFP). Using the weighted scoring approach, the team further narrowed the list of vendors to 3 finalists. References were called, site visits were completed, and the vendors made their final presentations.

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Industry Vendors / Operations Management / Outsourcing

You Can’t See the Big Picture If You Have Tunnel Vision

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jun 13, 2017 5:00:00 AM

“You've got to think about big things while you're doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction." - Alvin Toffler

There are many business books that emphasize “focus”. Focus on your strengths. Focus on your core business. Focus Daniel-san. Okay, that last phrase was from “The Karate Kid” movie, but the message is the same one many consultants and gurus exhort to their customers and audiences.

But what happens if you’re too focused? People may direct so much attention on a particular problem, and miss everything else. If you have tunnel vision, you can’t the big picture.

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Operations Management / Strategy

Auditing Your Service Provider

Posted by Mark Fallon on May 9, 2017 5:00:00 AM

When a company decides to outsource their customer communications to a service provider, that doesn’t mean the work is done. The vendor must be monitored and managed to ensure that they’re complying with negotiated service level agreements. Savvy customers take managing their vendors to the next level – by conducting periodic audits for quality controls and best practices.

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Operations Management / Outsourcing

Meeting Minimum US Postal Service Requirements Isn’t Enough

Posted by Mark Fallon on May 2, 2017 6:09:00 AM

 

One of my favorite television personalities is Mike Holmes. A contractor from Canada, Mike has been the star of several renovation series, including Holmes on Holmes, Holmes Inspections and Holmes Makes It Right. He’s most famous for uncovering shoddy work by other contractors, tearing it out, and then completing the construction correctly.

For Mike, the building code is the bare minimum standard for contractors. And the bare minimum isn’t the right way to build. “Even if they are minimum standards, codes matter,” Holmes said. “I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of people who build to code because the building codes are minimum standards. I want to see people build past minimum standards, so that every homeowner has the safest possible living environment.”

I feel the same way about most US Postal Service (USPS) regulations – they’re the minimum standards for mailers to meet. If you want to have your mail accepted by the USPS, then you must follow the regulations. But to be successful, you need to do more than just meet the standard. This is especially true when it comes to addresses.

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United States Postal Service / Operations Management

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