The oft quoted military strategist Sun Tzu had this to say, “In the midst of chaos, there is opportunity” I don’t know for a fact, but I am pretty sure he was not talking about meeting deadlines in the printing industry when he wrote that, but it surely applies. Like most companies, we here at Ingram Express have our peaks and valleys when it comes to how busy we are.   It seems like as soon as we get into a groove on a big project, we get a new order that must be done immediately and our team gets into scramble mode.

Prepress is kicking into overdrive to make sure all of the files presented are laid out correctly and in the correct format. Production continues to stare at the board, just in case they see something different than the last 100 times they stared at it. Sales team is on the golf course, I mean watching You Tube Videos, I mean, uh … well doing whatever the sales team does. Operations takes a deep breath and then heads for extra strength headache relief meds. What should have been a simple job in and of itself, when combined with the current project can become quite a challenge.

So this is where chaos starts to rear its ugly head. The deadline for both projects is important to our customers and so it is important to us as well. How do we manage it? What steps do we take? The answer is quite simple really. It is not always fun or comfortable, but it is simple. We look for the opportunity.   Surely we have a proven way of producing two high priority jobs at the same time… don’t we? Of course we do, I actually watched our production team do the whole rock, paper, scissors thingy several times in determining what was produced first, just last week.

In all seriousness, the opportunity arises in how creative we can be. Moving jobs around so the more experienced operators are running the harder jobs is one tact. Implementing a split shift is another that we have employed. Extending hours of operations or moving personnel from our fulfillment operation over to the production side, to keep our production team from having to pull stock, stack finished product or replenish raw materials. Effective communication between our departments allows our downstream processes to be more aware of when to expect receipt of their portion of the job and in turn that cuts down on set up times. And when it is over, and both customers have gotten their product on time, we take the opportunity to thank our team that puts in the effort to make our customers the priority they are. Then we give them their car keys back so they can actually go home.

One of our goals as a company is to eliminate the valleys altogether, but until that time comes, we need to be able to adapt to our environment and enjoy the chaos and the opportunities it brings.