November 14, 2022

How to Create a Rockin' Print Budget in 4 Easy Steps

Although there are many skills you need as a purchasing manager, print buyer, or sourcing/procurement guru, creating print budgets may be a critical part of your job requirements. A well-formulated budget ensures that your team understands the financial parameters of their work and provides a baseline for what your organization can accomplish with its existing resources.
Although there are many elements to consider when estimating your overall print costs such as printing, paper, and shipping, budgeting is often a critical part of the print procurement process, as is tracking expenditures. Budgeting helps print buyers and sourcing specialists predict costs of future goods (think paper purchases) and services (such as printing, packaging, or transportation fees), as well as how funds should be allocated so operations run smoothly, even during unexpected economic crises or cashflow downturns. It also helps management calculate profit margins for a given product or set of SKUs.
How to Create a Print Budget
Although budgeting can be a challenge, breaking it down into actionable steps makes the process easier.
1. Create the Spreadsheet
Utilize an online print management platform such as PrintMediaManager.com or design a simple spreadsheet to have columns for items/tasks, estimated costs, deadline dates, and actual expenditures. Then create rows for each expenditure, relevant to your needs. The rows might include:
  •    Graphic or packaging design fees
  •    Marketing/branding consulting fees
  •    Paper/board purchases
  •    Printing, packaging, finishing costs
  •    Kitting or fulfillment expenditures
  •    Shipping or transportation fees
  •    Postage and mailing fees
  •    Warehousing fees
  •    Taxes
2. Analyze Historical Data
Next, review invoices from past projects (or archived spreadsheets) to calculate a rough estimate for each line item. Since it's almost impossible to predict how much any given project will ultimately cost, especially during times of economic volatility, some experts recommend adding at least 10% to each estimated line item. That way, if there are any unexpected fees, it won't affect your budget adversely. Keep in mind that on average, most projects go over budget by 27%!
3. Seek Feedback
Once the project spreadsheet has been completed, ask your colleagues for feedback; fresh eyes might catch an item you missed or suggest something you didn't think of. Then adjust the budget as needed and submit it for approval, if required by your company or customer.
4. Track and Compare
As your project moves its way through the printing or packaging pipeline, update your spreadsheet with the invoiced costs. Once completed, analyze how your previously calculated estimates compare to the final amounts. For any significant savings or overages, create a management summary that explains the difference, so key decision makers can adjust their department budgets and re-calculate profit margins.
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