Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story...

The Disappearing Task Force Model

The college I attended liked to create ad hoc committees they called Disappearing Task Forces, or DTFs for short. DTFs came together to complete set tasks, then disbanded. In effect, they disappeared.

I always liked that model: Get together, get it done, go away. Come to think of it, that’s how I work as a by-project print production manager. My solo designer clients and those with small studios tell me they value my fast, thorough work and technical advice. They like skipping all that running around and being freed up to focus on their billable design projects.

How this looks in practice

Earlier this week, I was a DTF print manager for a solo designer who is immersed in designing a complex book with inclusions. When we met, she outlined the challenges and parameters involved in creating the inclusions. We explored possible approaches and structures, making dummies as we went along to see what worked and didn’t. Then we discussed printing options.

This arm-waving-stage conversation helped me understand her design intentions. She said that talking the project through with me reassured her that she had covered all of the project considerations. By the end of our session, we were both confident that we’d identified the most suitable and cost-effective way to achieve the results she wanted.

After our meeting, I prepared detailed print specifications for the inclusions and sent them out for bids. A couple of days later, I delivered to the designer a spreadsheet that showed the the real print costs—bidding printers’ base prices, plus sales tax and an alterations allowance. I recommended the bidding vendor I felt was the best fit for the job. I also passed along to her paper samples for her consideration.

Fewer surprises, greater peace of mind

As I firmed up the print details with the selected printer, he and I reviewed everything to catch any glitches that might arise. For example, some of the paper colors the designer liked were available only in full cartons. The print rep and I pinned down the locally available stock colors, avoiding having this paper issue come at the untimely moment when job headed toward the press.

“Thank you Nani. You really are my design hero!” says my happy designer client. She will pass my charges along to her client. The print job is staged to go smoothly, without surprises. Everybody wins.