3 Inefficient Areas of Your Communications Supply Chain

7/9/2019 Chris Renn

3 Inefficient Areas of Your Communications Supply Chain

As the saying goes, “Haste makes waste.” You know what else makes waste? Inefficiencies in your communications supply chain (e.g., untapped technology platforms, non-compliant messaging, poor inventory management, etc.). And nearly a third of C-level executives worldwide say “worsening supply chain management” is a leading operational environment challenge.

When organizations have dedicated people distracted from their core functions and managing multiple vendors and workflows, it’s not unusual to find inefficiencies.

The good news is these inefficiencies represent opportunities to improve business outcomes. The trick is knowing where to look. Here are three places to start.

Procurement models

Based on experience, I’ve come to know roughly 15-30% of program costs are derived from product, yet the remainder is sourced back to managing the program’s supply chain. So designing a process that allows your organization to capture, categorize and rationalize multichannel communication supply chain costs is essential.

Unfortunately, formal procurement processes like RFPs and bid requests of pre-defined specifications back most organizations into a corner from the start.

It’s not to say these processes are wrong, but they can limit (unintentionally) the conversation and understanding around all cost inputs across the supply chain.

Today, to support business growth, more than 90% of CMOs oversee a complex portfolio of 20 marketing, media, channel and technology investments [source 1].

Unfortunately, print and digital communications supply chains are complex, procurement models are decentralized, and supplier pools are overflowing. When these variables are present, ledgers can become fraught with inaccuracies.

Manual processes

“Digital transformation” has become a corporatized buzzword. It’s also becoming an enterprise-wide initiative. We've seen reports that nearly half of companies worldwide expect automation of business processes with digital technology to grow in importance in the next few years.

Are you using technology as effectively as you can? I know, that’s a loaded question. It’s also one that deserves an answer.

We’ve witnessed firsthand how investments made to digitize manual processes and hard assets can yield improved customer acquisition costs as well as better support customer-preferred communications channels.

Two-thirds (67%) of decision-makers agree “transforming business processes to be more digital” is a leading business priority [source 2]. If you find your organization slow to acknowledge the benefits of a digital migration, you’re leaving a lot on the table.


Poor design. Unapproved color palette. Old logos. Low-quality imagery. If any or all of these reach your customers, prospects or investors, your brand’s reputation will most likely be called into question.

“We don’t know where our first impressions come from or precisely
what they mean, so we don’t always appreciate their fragility.”
– Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times best-selling author

Do you know where all of your content is located? Who has access to it? And are there brand controls currently in place to protect against inconsistencies as you go to market?

To mitigate some of this risk, centralizing content and developing processes across your platform — regardless of product type or communication channel — can work wonders.

Take a closer look at your multichannel communications supply chain

Ask the right questions. Review the right data. Deliver the right solutions. Sounds simple. We both know it can be anything but.

To drive your brand toward a more efficient version of its current self, start by taking a closer look at your print and digital communications supply chain.

  • First, assess your current state. Look at how you manage your communications today. Do so by creating process maps, reviewing samples, analyzing financials and understanding your technology. (Are you ready for a comprehensive assessment of your communications supply chain? RRD’s strategic communications consultants can help.)
  • Next, conduct a gap analysis. Compare what you’re currently doing to best-in-class communications management processes, objectively viewing strengths and identifying opportunities based on your needs.
  • Lastly, identify options to drive results. Performing this research due diligence (i.e., steps one and two) will uncover a more comprehensive solution to enhance your brand and connect more deeply with your customers. This is results-based change management that delivers cost savings and communication effectiveness.

According to a survey by Forbes, approximately three-quarters of Global 5000 CMOs “feel their inability to quantify, communicate and optimize the value of marketing hurts them both professionally and personally."

Through broader, deeper analysis, a comprehensive assessment of your multichannel communications supply chain is a proven approach for lowering your total cost of ownership. It also happens to help ignite improved quality, brand consistency, and accelerated cycle-times. Win. Win. Win.


Chris Renn is Senior Vice President of Operations, Enablement & Strategy at RRD.


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