Today in our series of interviews with providers of print management and document business process outsourcing companies, we talk to Dave Hannebrink, Senior Vice President of Sales and Business Development, for NewlineNoosh.
NewlineNoosh provides a wide spectrum of services spanning the “source to pay” cycle. Implementing a consultative process focus, the company provides technology solutions and business process outsourcing that reaches from the creative process to the distribution process, from strategic sourcing and spend data analysis to managing procurement transactions and supplier relationships. NewlineNoosh delivers these solutions and services to large global customers including Unilever, Capital One, and Genworth Financial.
Before we dive into NewlineNoosh’s management services and technology offerings, let’s take brief look at the company’s past. How did they get here from there? In 2000, Frank Romano talked about “Printing matchmakers who bring buyers and sellers together. They facilitate a sale with unique web-based tools for specifying, bidding, on-line ordering, and job management. Noosh and Impresse and many others are in this area.” In fact those many others included names we haven’t heard in years: Collabria.com, Documentplanet.com, Impresse.com, Mediaflex.com, Printcafe.com, Printchannel.com, and lots of others. (Type some of those names into your browser and see what happens!)
January 25, 2000, Noosh filed an S-1 with the SEC for an initial public offering, and the company described its business this way:
“We are a leading provider of business-to-business e-commerce solutions for the printing industry. We have developed and operate Noosh.com, an Internet- based communication and collaboration service for managing the design, procurement and production of print orders. Our service can be used to manage print products as diverse as business cards and stationery, promotional brochures and direct mail, customized packaging and labels, and books and magazines. It leverages the benefits of the Internet to enable print buyers, print vendors and other providers of related services to communicate and collaborate efficiently through the complex, multi-step process of a print job.”
The “dot com crash” of spring 2000 put an end to any thoughts of public ownership of the company; however Noosh forged ahead and continued to evolve. The service structure as it stands today was made official in April 2005 when Newline Management and Noosh merged to form NewlineNoosh Inc. The company provides software and managed services for print that enable companies to leverage outsourced or internally managed print sourcing, procurement and production to achieve cost savings and gain complete visibility and control over their print supply chain.
WTT: Dave, tell us a little about the history of NewlineNoosh. How did you get from 1999 to today?
DH: Noosh was a technology company in the beginning and our offer was pretty basic. We worked with large buyers and their suppliers to provide a solution that made managing print – production, procurement, and reporting – a lot easier. There are a variety of procurement approaches to do that, including multiple bids, rate cards, contracts, and even reverse auctions on occasion when companies want it. We provided the infrastructure for managing the process and for reporting what happened and where you were spending your money. We were really all about building out a systematic infrastructure to manage print spend. We worked with – and continue to work – with large companies in all segments.
WTT: So why did you need to take the next step in your strategic evolution?
DH: In 2001-2002, when the economy was readjusting and there were a lot of changes going on in big corporations, we found that many large organizations had downsized and had fewer marketing services and procurement skills to bring creative ideas to life.
We began looking for ways to perform those functions and determined in 2002 that we needed to add staffing services for companies who didn’t have or didn’t want people on staff to manage the purchasing of print. We were working with a partner called Newline Management in New York that provided outsourced management services using the Noosh technology. Newline, using specialized sourcing and onsite staff, managed corporate-wide print programs and guaranteed savings and process compliance. After partnering with them for a couple of years, in 2005 it became pretty attractive to do a merger.
Now we can provide a range of solutions from a software solution to full managed services. We can tailor our solution to any print environment; whether the company wishes to just access our technology because they have staff in place or they want to hand off the entire print management function to us.
WTT: Let’s expand on the concept of print management as opposed to print brokering. Your print management services sound like they may or may not include brokering depending on your customers’ needs. Or do you do brokering at all?
DH: First of all, let’s define brokering: to me it’s someone who identifies a network of suppliers, builds a relationship with a buyer, places the print order, takes title to it from a supplier who charges a wholesale price, and then resells it using a markup that is often concealed from the buyer.
Print brokers tend to be transactional in nature; they are there as a convenience to the buyer when the buyer doesn’t have the time or ability to look for printers capable of doing a specific job. A broker can generally provide pricing that is more attractive than the buyer could get for themselves; but we find that it’s usually not the best available price.
Brokering jobs is not a service we generally provide, though we have on occasion helped companies out with individual print projects. Even then we provide these customers with complete transparency and visibility into what we’re doing.
Print management on the other hand is a strategic, holistic approach that considers corporate-wide print requirements, systematically analyzes opportunities for improvement, and then structures an infrastructure and supply base for ensuring that savings and process improvement can be sustained permanently. That’s what we do.
WTT: What is your revenue model? Where do you make your money on print management?
DH: It’s all fee based. We charge separate fees for the upfront consulting analysis, the technology deployment, onsite staff, and for managing the print transactions. These fees cover our costs and a fair profit. In every case, we’ll show what the actual print purchase costs are; for example, if there are multiple bids, we’ll show all the bids. If the customer has certain constraints around their purchasing, such as doing business with minority-owned or women-owned businesses, and that bid is higher, we will show how the purchase meets their constraints. We don’t conceal any rebates.
WTT: So to reiterate; there’s the technology element – for which you have a fee structure, and there are your managed services – the people and processes – for which you also have a fee structure for. Then you pass the print costs literally through.
DH: Yes. It’s all based on the fact that the technology is core to everything we do. We believe we’re the most efficient provider and we can deliver the most attractive total cost of ownership because our people can manage so much more print when the processes are automated. That’s the key.
WTT: We’ve been focusing this discussion in “offline media,” that is, physical documents rather than “online media” such as pdfs, web pages, and e-mail. Are you providing management services for online documents as well?
DH: We help our clients in the development and management of both traditional offline media projects and alternative or online media projects. There’s nothing about our technology that limits it to print, and because we don’t own any production assets we aren’t concerned that moving projects from offline to online will cost us money.
It’s true the easiest way to reduce print spend is to print less and that can take the form of online documents. Through our supply chain analytics we identify printed material that is out of date or obsolete and we use web to print and print on demand technology to reduce and contain print spend.
WTT: Print comes from a lot of different sources in an enterprise: office or desktop print, reprographics or data center print, and commercial or digital print from outside print service providers. Does your solution apply across all of those sources of print in a company?
DH: It does, but in varying degrees. Sourcing or procurement staff traditionally focus on commercial print; they are used to dealing with spend, invoicing, and supplier management. We do work in other areas of print origination; for example, we completed an analysis on an internal production facility in a recent engagement. We can take a deeper look and help decide whether this function should stay inside, go outside, or go online. If the print production stays inside, we can measure costs and improve processes with our technology.
At this point, office/desktop print is out there on the horizon. However, as production machines get less expensive and more capable, there will be a trend to put these capabilities back into the corporation at the department level. One of the things we’re looking at is the analysis of when to keep the job inside and when to send it out.
In these cases, we’re not charging for the print we manage or procure; we provide a consulting service to help a company sort it all out. They get the value, we get paid for the service.
WTT: Is a big part of your solution still collaboration and project management with a print element? I remember when Noosh was promoted as a collaboration tool.
DH: Yes, that part of our solution has really grown. There are project management tools like Microsoft Project or marketing resource management applications; however they don’t have the specificity to manage print. Our project management applications are used to manage very sophisticated print projects like direct mail, for example. There’s a lot that has to be managed before going out to source print, including specification design, document proofing, approvals, and instructions for production. All this happens in a highly-automated fashion.
We manage the design and procurement process under the guidelines of the enterprise. We structure a tailored management program for our customers around their purchasing policies, their marketing objectives and their organizational constraints. They will own every piece of data that we’ve collected for them, and they will have complete visibility throughout all sourcing processes.
E-printing and production – as it was called in 1999 – has really evolved into something interesting. Back then there were a lot of good ideas but a lot of bad interpretations and poor execution. In the end, if you do a good job for your customer, you will both benefit.