Print Productivity vs. Efficiency - A New Way to Think About Output?

As printers and manufacturers, we’re trained to think in terms of productivity—output over time. Things like impressions per day or sheets per hour.

Yet that traditional, time-honored way of thinking about productivity can limit our growth.

What happens if instead, we think in terms of efficiency as well as productivity?

What is Efficiency?

Print productivity vs. efficiency


“Efficiency is all about resources – it’s a measure of the output generated from the resources put into a particular task (or set of tasks). The ‘resources’ invested could be anything from money to components or time, and by measuring the amount put in compared to the amount of useful output you get in return, you get the efficiency of the whole task.” *

In short, efficiency is trying to do more with what we have so we can grow the bottom line.

Efficiency vs. Productivity as a Better Predictor of Growth

Here’s how measures of productivity can hinder that growth.

To illustrate with a simple example, let’s say a company routinely prints catalogs in-house. They’re booked to capacity for the month and their presses are producing at 100%. They’re at maximum productivity.

At this point, guided by productivity alone, the next steps might be to add shifts, buy new equipment, and hire more staff. All of these are risky and expensive and might not show a positive ROI for months or years.

So, even though they’re extremely productive, they’re not as efficient as they could be.

There are two ways they can produce more output, in the same time frame, with the resources currently available to them.

First, they can outsource their overflow to a trade printer (a resource) for about what it would cost to produce in-house.

Secondly, if they have higher-margin work in the pipeline, they can free up their presses to do that work internally by outsourcing both the catalogs and other lower-margin work.

They still get the profit from the outsourced catalogs and lower-margin work PLUS profit from internal high-margin work in the same amount of time.

This kind of outsource + in-house collaboration lets them produce more output—using the same input resources of time and money—than they could possibly do all on their own.

That’s efficiency.

At the end of the month, more output with the same resources = more profit.

The process can be repeated every month, without being limited by internal productivity.

To talk about what might be more efficient for your company, call me directly at 559-251-8595 ext. 411.

You can benefit from our decades of experience at making printing companies like yours more efficient and in turn, more profitable.

*Source: Process Street, Ben Mulholland, Productivity vs. Efficiency: How to Analyze the Performance of Anything