Scottish-based Ink Shop Printing was placed into receivership in April following “six months of difficult trading”. MD Stuart Mason told the trade press a year ago that the business needed to restructure for the future. In his latest statement he said that the restructuring plans were working but “just not quickly enough”. I am sure we all feel sympathy with him. But even if the overall strategy is sound, delivering rapid change in a business is not easy.
Indeed it is funny how even the simplest task can get confusing – you know the expression “Oh for Heaven’s sake! It will be quicker if I do it myself…” The problem is that in most cases a complex task cannot be done by one individual working in isolation, but needs the contributions of several people, a team, and that is where things often start unravelling.
Normal line management is often ok, as people are doing a routine task that they have done many times before or at least relatively minor variations thereof, liaising with others for whom this is also familiar and using information and systems that may not be ideal but are well understood. But then add the key variable of major change, ie new matters to address, new information to gather, new systems to develop, new people to work with and you find that things go wrong much more easily. That is where project management is vital.
Increasingly print management teams, like that at Ink Shop Printing, are faced with a lot of change, as existing printing business models are shown to be running out of road. So it is essential that everyone involved shares some basic habits that makes the process of change work well.
We will expand on this in fuller articles to be published here in the coming months, but in headline terms, these are a few of the issues that must be addressed. You must define the project clearly including resources required, budget, timescales, measures, responsibilities etc. You must plan and schedule the project carefully and agree both how you are going to implement it and how you are going to monitor progress. The right mix of staff must be on the team and they must know the rules of the game, ie how they can best contribute.