Printing and Purchasing

Have you ever had a printing project go wrong? If you have, maybe the project’s job bag was not read or followed, maybe the client changed the specifications after the job was started or the job bag was not completed or updated.

The Job Bag is the repository of all pertinent information concerning the printing project. A job bag may be physical, an envelope that has a printed label or form printed on the outside or electronic which can be viewed on a monitor or printed out. Every job bag has an identifying number which makes it unique from all other jobs and links the physical envelope with the electronic job bag file.

Job Bags have many components. The following are several main or key components:
• Customer information
• Delivery information
• Dates
• History
• Quantity
• Size[s]
• Substrate[s]
• Press
• Bindery
• Dummy
• Proof
• Special Information

The information provided in the job bag should provide production workers with all the necessary information to produce the customer’s project successfully. Calls or questions concerning a project are usually the result of incomplete or unclear instructions.

Recently, I was in a print shop and they were working on a print project with many components. The head of the press department provided an overview of the project. When asked to provide the job bag, however, it couldn’t be provided. When a job bag cannot be found, workers can’t review job specifics and department heads do not have the pertinent information or materials to verify production work results and provide sign-off or corrective action.

Print buyers, when touring a printing company, should look for a project’s corresponding job bag. If you have a project being worked on, ask to see a job bag, and then review it for completeness and accuracy of information. As a print buyer, if at all possible, provide all the information concerning the project when the print order is placed with the print sales representative. During my years in printing, one of the biggest issues in a printing plant is project changes that never made it to the job bag or proofs.

Comments on: "The Key Component of Any Successful Printing Project – The Job Bag" (23)

  1. Sounds like this might be something Putnam Graphics might want to drill into the kids head, right after Safety FIRST.
    And it goes for any job, almost every Shop in Putnam.
    I know in MTT it would be called a work order for medium to small job shops.
    It is crucial to meeting on-time deliveries with high quality work!!

  2. I wholehearted agree with the importance of a job bag as for over 15 years have been supporting the printing departments from State Agencies, Insurance, Education and Commercial Printing / Mailing Industries.
    The job bag demonstrates to clients of these environments control, comprehension and repeatable success by providing detail of every step of the production. From my experience the most successful companies who incorporate such practices develop long standing client loyalty and allows precise decision making in bringing new products to market.

  3. Edward W. Demetrion said:

    Job bags are essential. They are not only the road-map for production of any project, they are also the eternal archives for that project as many production projects are printed again and again; in whole or in parts. A well filled out job bag with all the production notes included within, is absolutely essential to produce that project correctly again and again obtaining the same results. Along with the job bag you must also have a corresponding system of retrieval to locate that job bag in the future. You really cannot function without one.

  4. At TigerPress, we have a rule that only written instructions are allowed, and the only place they can be placed is in the job bag. Our job bags include all information and specifications as well as signed proofs, previous samples, and other relevant information. A complete job bags save time, and it assures the project to be done correctly. A good job bag is in hard copy format, and not digital, and it is essential part of any success printing operation. We continually improve our job bag for better understanding of the project, and easy read.

  5. Mark Pigeon said:

    Job bags are definitely mandatory in printing environmnt. A job bag includes all information for all departments for any project enterng the shop. This also allows notes to be made, including errors, improvements, ect. for future repeat orders on the ticket. I must say, after starting a new path in printing with a new company, I found it amazingly easy to adjust simply because f how universal the job bags are.

  6. A. Hameed said:

    Shaheen Plastic & Leather.
    In Printing project, job bag is necessary where you have all instructions given. This is a rule in Business that “All work will be completed as instructions given in the job bag, that is filled and signed by the client to avoid further inconvenience”. Not only for the printing job, You can easily adjust the job bag in any field of work
    Philip, Your efforts for a key component of any successful printing project are appreciated.

  7. Blu Hawley said:

    At your request Phillip, I am going to say that it is absolutely “hands down” that you must have a job packet. Not just an envelope or a file, but documentation of every move you make on the project. Try to follow me here. Your printing company is awarded a printing project. The project was estimated using all specifications that the customer wanted for the job. The cost was agreed mutually agreed to with a signed order and P.O.. The customer provides artwork via their means. Let’s say for example that your prepress department is receiving artwork via FTP, created on a MAC with InDesign software or Photoshop or Illustrator etc. Then the customer decides the printer needs to do some scannin, color retouching, corrections etc. This is a “change order”. It will need to be in the JOB BAG. A CSR is organized and will want to grab one of the expensive, thick polypropylene job bags – let’s say ( 10 x 13 ) size to start the job documentation.

    The paperwork will come chronologically, so keep it in chronological order, as items will be added to the job packet before the job is delivered. There may be two hours pre press changes at $120 hr., meaning that a “change order” will need to be signed and returned to the salesman to continue working with agreement, and so that the customer understands the nature of the addtional work that must be performed additionally. The last item going in the envelope will be the shipping departments delivery slip. Then it comes back to management and the salesman for review before being billed out and filed away in the documents storeroom.

    It all adds up to having the job ticket, with the entire papered history. This is a problem avoider and a way to retain your customer. It all comes down to being organized and when you ask me about the importance of a “JOB BAG”, you made me have a good laugh at the end of a long day, so I was happy to reply Phil. Thank you for that. Whoever bucks the notion of a JOB BAG, does not have the expertise to be involved in any single area of production! The salesman wants to make sure the job goes smoothly for the client, so they will not give any guff about you using a JOB BAG OR not.The JOB BAG goes through every department, starting with estimating, customer service, finance, pre-press, on press, bindery, shipping and delivery. The JOBBAG will have all the facts of the printing job in the end. I have always thought the JOB BAGS ( whichever your style is) they were worth the hefty price and reusable. I always liked to joke with my crew and tell them to take it easy on the JOB BAGS, but I was really serious because I wanted reusability without asking the VP for new bags at $15 a pop? Hope all is well with you and your families and to all here! Blu Hawley

  8. This is very well thought and written. The job bag is a crucial document and component of any successful project. In my experience, Operations should never proceed without this information. If it is not available for any reason, the work should be skipped and rescheduled when the information can be provided. This single component saves a great amount of rework and allows the operations staff in all areas to proceed with confidence knowing that they have all of the information necessary to help the organization satisfy the customer.

    I appreciate that there are complex jobs that go through many revisions while the project is being tested and sampled. Until the job is released to production, this is possible and something that the Project Manager must manage. This is the value they bring to an organization. They work directly with the customer to represent an organization’s capabilities. I think that moving to an “online solution” is the most dynamic way to manage the work throughout the entire cycle. In my experience, it is best for the job bag to be broken into sections where the essential information for that stage is included. This information is often function specific and not of interest to departments in other stages of production. This can be achieved successfully in an online or hard copy style job bag.

    These sections should include pertinent information and samples (stocks, envelopes, instructions to perform tap testing, approved print samples, etc.) so that there is one single place for each process stage to refer to. This allows them to focus their efforts on their processes and assure quality and timely delivery of material to the next step in the process or identify issues for escalation (And how to escalate appropriately) that prevent them from completing their process.

    Once this information is released, there can be no revisions. In live production there are live jobs (Where the specifications are detailed and “locked down”) and there are samples (Where tests are being run for decisions to be made). The tests should have a job ticket but it should appear different to draw attention to it as a test. The live jobs should have no chance of a revision and there should be nothing open for interpretation. The instructions should be reviewed and approved by each department in the process to assure that flawless execution can be achieved. Anything short of this introduces the possibility of error into the process and that is something no operation can afford or support.

    As for chasing down the job bag, production planning and control should prevent this issue. Each department along the line must know what they are going to do at least 24 hours in advance and assure that the job tickets they have on their schedules are available. If not, the issue should be raised at the daily meetings that coordinate activity for the organization and resolved well in advance of the work beginning in production.

  9. Earl Buss said:

    We have a job envelope that contains minimal information, just enough to identify the order. Our “job ticket” is electronic. Each area that works on the job is responsible for pulling up an electronic copy of the ticket. If necassary, they can print it out for their use but must destroy it when done. This allows us to make ticket updates electronically at almost any time. Our only rule is if you make a change when something is in production, go to the machine it’s running on and communicate the change. We also worked very hard to eliminate most of the paperwork, so even the few things left are attached to the job electronically (PO, layout, quote etc.).

  10. Great topic: A few thoughts on the Job Bag (I love the old school sound of it in our digital age).
    Manage it – Properly managed, the Job Bag represents discipline and accountability resulting in a successful project collaboration! Through my years of buying, supplying, and managing printing/packaging projects, I’ve seen great concepts quickly devolve into a disaster requiring significant time and resources to get back on track. The time and money lost in those situations can be significant, and in my opinion avoidable 95% of the time (at least 5% is going to be unexpected!).

    Keep it Simple – Have a method for segregating/identifying the many dead ends; incorrect proofs, AA’s, etc., from the most recent approval. You may have all the data, but if it’s confusing it is worthless to everyone.

    Designate an Owner – Determine who can review, alter contents, walk away with it, etc.

    Audit the Job Bag – Before you dig into it with a customer present, be sure your team is completely familiar with all aspects of the project as it relates to their areas of responsibility.

    • Mark S. Discipline and accountability are great descriptive words for the Job bag. “Keep it simple” is another concept that is critical the more complex a project becomes. Thank you for your comments.

  11. I have been in printing since 1972 in multiple commercial and web facilities, in positions from job planning and estimating to typesetting and pre-press through press and bindery. The job jacket is critical to communication through the manufacturing process but is only as good as the information received. I found that some of the facilities I worked in were better at asking the client the correct questions at the beginning of the project than some of the others. Another aspect to consider: the procedures established should include change orders and follow through. I am now a print buyer and the horror stories we’ve dealt with when a printer has no procedures in place to handle changes is terrifying.

  12. […] be knowledgeable and experienced in the trade. Read our previous blog about the importance of the Job Bag a key fundamental in the trade. Individuals will practice what they have been taught, and when they […]

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