Employees who make themselves department heads; field staff who order too many cards; wrong addresses, wrong logos or simply typing errors … Yes – all this happens when business cards are ordered decentrally in a company. But much, much less often than some buyers fear. Overly complicated, multi-level approval workflows are therefore not worth the effort. The smarter way: Eliminate errors through clever ordering systems and limit approval to a maximum of two stages.
Ordering business cards online makes life easier for shoppers – especially when self-procurement is used. Every employee who needs business cards logs into the internal or external business card shop, enters his or her personal data and immediately sees what is printed. The back and forth with the print shop is completely eliminated and the purchasing department can take care of more important things.
Studies show that this saves up to 90% of internal working time for the procurement of business cards. But the joy about the new efficiency is quickly mixed with skepticism among many buyers: what if individual employees use the self-service system incorrectly or misuse it intentionally? prinux is aware of these concerns from countless conversations with customers. It is therefore not uncommon for inquiries to include high demands on the approval process – and these five questions are usually the ones most frequently asked:
1. Are name, e-mail and personal telephone numbers on the business card correct?
First of all, the person in need should normally give his or her blessing – i.e. the person whose name is on the business card. This makes sense if someone orders cards for a colleague. After all, the later “owner” of the business cards is the one who is most likely to discover errors in his or her own name or e-mail address. If truly every user orders his own cards, this first step is unnecessary, of course.
2. Is all company data correct – to the letter?
Particularly in corporations with many companies, branches and locations, errors can quickly creep in concerning the addresses on business cards, which an individual buyer can easily overlook. Therefore, it can be helpful if the business card drafts are approved by a second employee who has an overview before the order is placed.
3. Is someone playing games?
Often, the human resources department also likes to take a look at the business card orders: They check, for example, whether the job titles on the business cards are correct – or whether someone is perhaps making themselves more important than they actually are in the company hierarchy. The thought of self-invented, flowery fantasy titles comes up here occasionally as well.
4. Does he or she really need new cards now – and so many?
The next approver could then be the buyer. He or she makes sure that nobody orders too many or too often and that the print budgets are not overstretched.
5. Is everything also CD-compliant?
If there are in-house graphic designers, they also check the cards before they are finally ordered. Is everything in line with corporate design? Are the telephone numbers correctly grouped? Is the correct logo used for the respective location?
These five steps are just a few examples. Particularly cautious companies can think of a whole range of other dangers that could potentially be associated with self-procurement of business cards and which must be contained by an approval stage.
Approval orgy eats up time and money
And it takes five or more people to give their blessing for an online order of a single business card pack. Even if the order is waved through by everyone, it can take a few days. If even one of the controllers vetoes the order, the delivery will be delayed even more, and in the worst case, the whole ordering process will start all over again. The whole thing is now far from efficiency, even if the most sophisticated digital procurement solution is used.
Rethinking processes instead of just digitalising them
But how do these complicated approval procedures come about? Often one falls into a typical digitisation trap: the previous processes are simply digitised without first checking whether they could be drastically simplified.
After all, what can make sense in a manual process can become completely obsolete with a good, highly automated business card solution for companies.
Let’s take the above five questions again as examples:
1. Names & co:
Typing errors in names can be eliminated, for example, by connecting to personnel databases or internal procurement systems (SAP & Co), algorithms ensure the automatic creation of the correct e-mail address – including umlaut conversion and similar details.
2. Company data:
General company and location data must not be freely editable in an e-procurement system for business cards, of course, but should either be predefined automatically (e.g. based on the login) or selected from menus.
3. Job title:
To avoid creative function names, fixed lists of all functions permitted in the company can be stored – including translations into different languages if required.
4. Budget monitoring:
Instead of comparing each individual order with the budget, a detailed monthly overview is often sufficient, since total expenditure with business cards normally does not reach astronomical heights.
5. Corporate design conformity:
A cleverly programmed business card template even knows what is (typo)graphically allowed and what is not. Layout rules, for example, automatically select the correct logo, format telephone numbers, suppress blank lines or know how to deal with overlong e-mail addresses.
As you see: A great many control steps are no longer necessary thanks to intelligent web-to-print systems that are optimized for corporate business cards – or they can be greatly accelerated because many errors are eliminated from the outset.
In practice, one or two approval steps are therefore completely sufficient. Which one of them differs greatly from company to company. In any case, ordering business cards is not a matter of life or death, but only a handful of euros each. A subsequent remark to an employee who may have done something wrong is always more efficient than time-consuming control mania.
A major prinux customer, Sparkassen Versicherung, also relies on trust instead of control – with convincing success: “In ten years, we have had perhaps three black sheep. In such cases, there is a notice and the cards are disposed of – that’s not much damage. On the other hand, the effort we save through the slim processes are enormous”.
Are you looking for an online procurement solution for business cards? Whether with or without approval workflow – prinux has something for you. Get non-binding advice (Tel. 0800 100 2280) or request detailed documentation in PDF format: