Is your in-house document center part of the process, or just the end-point of a lot of upstream decisions that get made without you? Here are 3 ways to get more involved in printing and mailing projects earlier in the planning stage - instead of just dealing with whatever shows up in your shop.

1. Ten Minute Outreach - Put together a short presentation with some photos or videos of your equipment in action, along with some slides listing the services your operation provides. Ask for a spot on the meeting agendas of departments that influence work that eventually ends up in your facility. Educate these departments about what your operation can do and how experts on your staff help departments lower costs, avoid delays, and ensure the effectiveness of future communications. Prepare some useful content to leave behind, such as a print/mail project planning guide.

2. Come On In - We're Open! - Schedule an open house in your facility. Personally invite people in the company who may never have set foot in your production rooms - including administrative assistants. Serve snacks! Have some demo jobs set up and ready to run so the machines can be seen in action, and coach your equipment operators to give short explanations about how their machines work. Not only does this exercise introduce the capabilities of your operation to a larger audience that can send you more work, it gives your staff the opportunity to show off their skills and knowledge - a great morale booster.

3. Read All About It - Put together a short newsletter that can be printed and distributed through your internal mail system, or sent via email. Include helpful informative articles on postal matters, multi-channel communications, address hygiene, etc. You could also include employee profiles, mini-case studies of successful projects, or highlight the capabilities of certain pieces of equipment. Provide examples of how your operation saved departments money by improving their mail pieces. Encourage readers to ask for advice when they plan their next campaign or mail project.

In many corporations, document operations are an under-utilized resource. Unbeknownst to operations management, departments create documents themselves (at much higher cost) or send work that could be done on idle document center equipment, out to vendors. Having a higher profile and being less intimidating can result in more work for document operations, higher quality communications, and lower costs for the organization.

Mike Porter is an expert in Print and Mail operations and President of Print/Mail Consultants. For more helpful tips, visit and sign up for their free newsletter for document operations, Practical Stuff. Or look for the book "Take this Job and Stuff It! - A Practical Guide for Document Operations Managers" in the Mailing Systems Technology online store.