#UKvUSA: Does your teamwork work?

Two continents: US and UK. Two different buying backgrounds: procurement and agency. Two alternative ways of looking at things. I’m delighted to have teamed up with Deborah Corn from PrintMediaCentr to bring two extremely different views to some important print questions. So welcom e to Print Buying: #UKvUSA where Deborah and I share information about our experiences from both sides of the pond.

At the end of this post I have linked to Deborah’s answer to the same question. We wrote our answers (each limited to 500 words) without any idea of what the other was writing. As Deborah says: “Maybe we will agree, maybe we won’t, maybe we don’t even see the question in the same way – who knows… that’s the fun part!”

Please do leave comments, thoughts and support at the bottom of this post and on Deborah’s post.   It would be great if also posted your thoughts on Twitter, using the hashtag #UKvUSA Remember to watch out for our answers to another question next month.

#UKvUSA: Does your teamwork work?

Do you feel like your vendor/client relationship is a constant battle?

Sometimes it seems impossible to get the right results from the other side. It’s tempting to think that it’s all the other person’s fault.

The trouble is that the constant battles usually aren’t just with one other person. Some printing companies think that all their clients are a nightmare. Some clients are constantly changing supplier because “none of them are any good”.

That’s a sign that you need to review how to create a great supplier/client team. Here are three tips to help you on the way.

1.  Manage expectations

This is the number one reason I see for a supplier/client team failing to work well together. There are two parts to managing expectations correctly.

The first part is to be crystal clear about what you expect from the other party. Set it out in writing. Get the other party to repeat it. Make sure that there are NO misunderstandings.

The second part is to let people know if you can’t manage what they are asking for. It is far better to be upfront about things rather than to let someone down. Generally it’s possible to work out a solution that both parties are happy with. If this isn’t possible, surely it’s better to realize this before the post job accusations start flying?

Is everyone in the client supplier team walking in the same direction?

Is everyone in the client supplier team walking in the same direction?

2.  Team up the right people

This can be easier said that done, especially with small teams. However, the right people match can make or break a good supplier/client team.

So try to avoid asking the chatty person to work with some one who has no time for small talk and just wants to get to the point. Remember that the detail person may simply wind up someone who focuses on the big picture.

3.  Review regularly

Make a point of setting a time in the diary three or four times a year when both parties will sit down and review things. What has gone well? When are thanks due to the other side? What could have gone better? Are there any learning points? Does anyone have any concerns?

A regular meeting like this will bring both client and vendor closer together. It’s a great way to sort small niggles before they become big problems.

Here’s the power of a great team

I remember getting a call from one of our magazine printers once. There had been a storm over the weekend. Their bindery was flooded.

We went out of our way to try and help them. But we did this because we had built a great relationship together. The production team wouldn’t have put themselves out the way they did for all of their suppliers.

Whether you’re a supplier or a client, it’s worth taking the time to make sure that people will help you out when you’re faced with a major problem.

How did Deborah tackle this question? See here. Look out for the next #UKvUSA battle next month!

Next month Deborah and I have been invited to present at Jetcomm and Dscoop San Antonio . Amongst other things, we’ll be discussing teamwork. Make sure you come to see, and participate in, our session: “Death to Color Matching and other tales from the Print Buyer Survey”. You may be surprised at what you learn – I’m looking forward to some great discussions!

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