Most successful printing projects don’t happen by accident. They start with a good plan. How can you create the kind of plan that comes in on time and budget? Start by asking these five questions:
1. What’s your end goal? Smart planning works backward. You don’t want to find out too late that certain design elements bring unwelcome surprises. For example, you might not realize that some binding options can take extra time or that a specific trim size might increase the cost of the project.
2. Who is the audience, and how will they use the piece? What are the lighting conditions under which the piece will be viewed, and how will that impact your color choices? Will the piece need to be lightfast or water-resistant? Also, older audiences may have different needs in terms of readability (font style, size, contrast) than younger ones. Make sure your design choices match the needs of your target audience and the conditions under which your piece will be viewed and used.
3. How many suppliers are involved? How will the schedules of any outside service providers impact the timeline? If you are using a freelance illustrator for direct mail design, what is his or her availability? If you’re placing your printed piece on a product, such as a label on a bottle, do you need to coordinate with the bottle supplier to ensure that the bottles are available when you need them?
4. When does the piece need to arrive? Make sure you plan backward from the delivery date so we can schedule your project appropriately. Because we juggle many jobs at any given time, we need planning to make sure that your project gets to press on time. Especially with more substantial jobs, if there is a delay in getting us the files, it can be more challenging to reschedule.
5. What’s your “fudge factor”? Always add in buffer time to accommodate slippage in the schedule. The larger the project, the more buffer you will need.
With the right project planning, you can keep everything on track and running smoothly. Especially when everyone is working toward the same goal and communicating effectively, you are more likely to be rewarded with a project that comes in on time and budget.