Part One: Compliance and security
1. Where will you store our information, and who’ll have access?
In 2016, the EU GDPR was introduced as a new baseline in data protection. Nobody wants to see a data breach, not least one involving your customers’ data while in the hands of a third party – where it’s still your responsibility – so it’s essential to ensure your partner is fully compliant.
2. How do you protect data from digital attacks, and physical theft?
You want your customer data kept as secure as possible, and your partner has a duty to adhere to this. Ask about incident response plans and breach guidelines – after all, you have a legal duty to know what measures are being taken to protect your customers’ personal details.
3. When disposing of data, how do you prove it’s been done?
“Oh yes, we deleted all that last week.” Did they, though? Or is it still sitting on a thumb drive in a drawer somewhere? Make sure your potential partner has a clear process in place. Who will be your point of contact, and what deletion evidence do they provide? Remember, under GDPR you’re accountable for data while it’s in a third party’s hands, and you (or they) can’t hold onto it forever.
4. When and how will you notify us of security breaches?
You’re going to want to know exactly how you’ll be alerted to such an event. Where the data was, who had access, and what will be done to recover and retain it in the future. Speed is of the essence if you’re limiting damage, so you need a trusting relationship – you can’t afford to have things covered up because your partner’s embarrassed to come forward.
5. How will you help us meet our legal duties?
If you get audited – or if a customer asks for a report of what data you hold on them, why, and who has access – this will include any data being held by your third party suppliers. So you need to be sure they have sound reporting systems that’ll help you meet your statutory duties in time.
Part Two: Quality control and integrity
6. How do you ensure colour consistency?
Data compliance is important, but if the quality of your partner’s output is poor, you still risk disappointing customers. Their printer needs to be calibrated to provide a perfect match for your existing output, with colour match settings locked in. Consistency is paramount, so do a sample run, and make sure everyone agrees the shade and colour are perfect.
7. Who works in your print room?
An outsourcing partner should have a strong cast of characters behind the scenes, working with a passion that borders on obsession, to get everything exactly right. Are they dedicated to detail, quality and finesse? It’s always good to know who’ll be running your show.
8. How do you ensure every fulfilment is perfect?
Just like the previous question, it’s important to know exactly who will be handling your print and mail fulfilment. It won’t hurt to ask about the technology they use, how they are trained, and whether they suffer with a high staff turnover rate. How do they measure quality? What do they do to ensure the right enclosures are in the right letters? And will you receive evidence of these checks?
9. How do you track mail?
End-to-end tracking is a must, if you have important, sensitive or legally-regulated documents to send. So can they tell you when the mail was printed, sent and received? If not, they should – so don’t fear digging deeper on this issue. Should you need it, Royal Mail’s barcode-based MailMark system is a great solution to keep in mind.
10. How would you cope in a disaster situation?
Fires, extreme weather, sabotage – there’s always a slim chance that your partner could suffer a tragedy. Nobody wants it to happen, but it’s important to know about their disaster recovery plan, and find how it will preserve your customer’s data and information – because even the best excuses won’t wash if your customers’ letters don’t arrive on time.
Taking the next step
If you’re considering outsourcing, or simply curious about what the process involves, please feel free to download our practical, 12-step eBook guide: ‘The right way to outsource your print room’.