Printfuture have been working with Singapore based Superskill Graphics to help them transform their business. They have been engaged with Printfuture’s successful GPS Programme, which has delivered consistent results for numerous print providers.
Superskill Graphics – Digital Publishing and Media Services
Superskill Graphics based in Singapore was formed in 1978 as a phototypesetting, film and platemaking company. In 1988 it was the first company in South East Asia to install desktop publishing for phototypesetting and in 1990 was awarded the prestigious National IT Award in the SME category. During the 1990s it also adopted computerized colour scanning and multi-lingual typesetting. As is well documented the market for these publishing services began to decline with the advent of widespread desktop publishing software and direct-to-plate production methods. As a result and with increasingly squeezed revenues and margins Superskill diversified into digital printing in 2006. Despite its best efforts revenues fell from a high of nearly $8 million in 1995 to less than $2 million in 2013. The initial boost from the introduction of digital printing was soon eroded as the market continued to consolidate and become more competitive. It was clear that print was declining and the publishing world was moving digital. A radical new approach was required to re-energise the business and this had to begin at the top.
Extract from a presentation from Superskill Graphics owner Mrs Tan in 2015
In late 2014 Superskill embarked on an extensive review process of all aspects of the business, in order to come up with a vision and plan for the future. The extensive business plan that was drawn up containing all the change projects became the vehicle for engaging all the staff, creating momentum and driving the business forward. The new plan included changes to the standard operating procedures, a programme of efficiency and cost reduction measures in every department, supported by a comprehensive training schedule.
Out of the review process came a new branding and identity for the company and the development of a new website focused on the delivery of a new range of specialist digital media services for the publishing market. To ensure that these services would be a success an aggressive sales and marketing plan was devised, which was supported by the introduction of a business intelligence process to create leads and develop business opportunities.
The plan was to take what Superskill had historically done well in the publishing arena and add a new dimension through content and data management and the addition of new digital publishing services like web design and mobile content development.
The new business model was designed and developed as in the chart below:
The introduction of the new business strategy and implementation plan has delivered some significant bottom line improvements and ensured that Superskill is back on track with revenues and margins rising through 2014 and 2015. The key turnaround metrics are as follows:
- Improved efficiency by embedding new standard operating procedures
- Created 43% additional capacity to sell through operational efficiencies
- Reduced overheads by 11%
- New customer acquisitions increased by 9%
- Recharging of design services improved by 40%
- Revenue up by 20%
- Profitability up by 9%
Superskill has had to navigate a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business environment but their response has been to:
- Build in a buffer: a personal challenge to finish strong & leave a legacy
- Invest in information: diagnosing the situation & prioritizing changes
- Ecosystem approach: targeting the right customers and partners
- Experiment, experiment, experiment!
The Superskill case study proves that no matter how small the company or how desperate the position, sound advice, vision and planning coupled with discipline, hard work and the right investments can deliver a quick and dramatic change in fortune.
What Superskill had to say about Printers GPS
Why did you decide to go with Printers GPS
I heard Neil speak at a couple of conferences, and the issues and challenges that he shared that the industry faced resonated with me. Knowing a bit more about Neil after that, I thought he had the relevant industry experience in print & publishing, as well as corporate experience in restructuring a business to help a small business like mine.
What were the drivers behind the decision
The industry has been changing very rapidly over the last decade, and increasingly I find it hard to keep up, especially since I’m not that young anymore. Also, I can feel that there are problems in the company, such as culturally and operationally, but I don’t know how to change and where to start. Lastly, being an SME boss, I’m also very operational and always fighting fires, and it is hard for me to step back and think strategically.
What were the reservations
Fear of change, and the energy and will to follow through on painful process changes. I also wondered if my older staff would be able to adapt to the changes.
How easy was it to implement
I think if it is my existing staff, it would be hard to implement, but I had my 2nd generation leaders take over from the start of the project, who knew the business but were less involved, and they provided more objectivity to the situation. Neil also provided a very comprehensive picture of our problems, and clear, itemised “to do list” which helped break it down into manageable chunks.
Was it made bespoke to your business and challenges
Absolutely. While Neil has his own templates and tools, but we co-created the business plan, business intelligence reports etc. He provided the structure and direction, and we own the content. It was very much tailored to our challenges.
Was everything explained well, did you enjoy the experience/find it challenging
It was fun, actually. The first 2 weeks were a little scary, because of all the work that we had to do and the changes we had to implement, but after a while, our staff, even the old timers, went with the flow. Neil is very candid and direct, but also mindful that the messages got to be delivered in a way that’s palatable. It was great fun.
Did you have the right support, advice and tools to implement things
Neil has created templates and tools that we can populate, and of course his guidance supported us during the change process.
How has it helped the business – what results are you achieving
We have implemented a number of new processes, to ensure consistency in our service delivery, and also measured our performance to know exactly which service and product lines are doing better than the rest. This has informed our sales & marketing efforts, and helped us to be much more targeted. In the past we just took orders, now we can determine where to hunt.
How has it changed the focus and confidence in the business
There was a lot of fear in the past, I think more fear of the unknown than anything. Now at least we know what we don’t know, and we know how we can find some answers. I think that itself is a very powerful lesson from this experience.
Would you recommend it to other companies