Our Daily Bread Ministries is a non-denominational, non-profit, global ministry with staff and volunteers in over 35 offices working together to distribute more than 60 million resources in 150 countries. Their US headquarters is located in Cascade Township, on the southeast side of metro Grand Rapids and is home to almost 300 full time staff and 100 volunteers. Regardless of whether it’s a radio or television broadcast, DVD, podcast, book, mobile app, or website, Our Daily Bread Ministries provide materials to help people grow in their relationship with God.
In 1938, the ministry started with a radio program called Detroit Bible Class. Since then, their audience has grown from a small group of dedicated radio listeners, to millions of people around the world who use their Bible-based resources.
Today, their Grand Rapids print production facilities generate 62 million devotional booklets and boasts 72 million impressions, with more than ten languages printed in the US. Their M1000 Web press consumes 6 million lbs. of paper, the Akiyama Sheet-fed press consumes 11 million sheets of paper, and their HP7000 and HP5500 digital presses consume 6 million sheets of paper. Since 2011, the plant has grown by 10%.
A bulk of Our Daily Bread Ministries’ production costs support a direct mail workflow. Our Daily Bread Ministries’ main objective was to capture the scheduling and cost performance of all their mailings. They had access to information coming from a variety of departments, disparate islands of automation, and “spreadsheets all over the place”, as Ron Underwood, Supply Chain Team Lead for Our Daily Bread Ministries, puts it. “We had postage stats in a spreadsheet over here, our third-party inserter had its own measurement over there, but there was no holistic view in terms of management.” In addition, the ministry was in the process of re-organizing work roles to further streamline efficiencies, yet they were missing the key component in the cost collection and tracking paradigm.
Every fall, Our Daily Bread Ministries produces a fundraising calendar which has become extremely popular to its members. This mailing initiative, produced and mailed alongside their millions of printed materials, is fulfilled upon receipt of a return postcard. To date, the ministry has been unable to systematically measure the entire initiative from beginning to end against their donation base. This includes both tangible and intangible costs such as: printing and materials; postage; administrative; and third-party resources.
Given the breadth of products and the ministry’s global presence, they needed a solution that could not only manage the printing requirements of the individual items, but provide the production staff a comprehensive, real-time view of the project – as a whole, including costs.
“Each mailing project is made up of individual components like booklets, brochures, address cards and envelopes”, states Ron. “Our challenge was how to oversee the entire project, with each component having individual requirements. We needed the ability to measure…everything.”
Our Daily Bread Ministries looked at several Print MIS vendors. The ministry had history with Avanti; they have been an Avanti Classic client since 2006. With that history was a familiarity in Avanti’s commitment to product improvement and assistance in getting the most out of the software. “We felt that the approach Avanti took in rewriting Avanti Slingshot from the ground up was the right one”, declares Ron.
Our Daily Bread Ministries liked the user interface for its simplicity and organization. The fact that Avanti Slingshot is browser-based was particularly appealing. “There are tremendous advantages to a browser-based solution”, continues Underwood. “The visibility we get from real-time access to our information from both within – as well as outside – the plant is game-changing.”
Avanti has a 30 year history and a deep understanding of the print industry. Additionally, the upgrade path to Avanti Slingshot was attractive from a cost standpoint. “Other systems were either far behind Avanti or over-engineered”, proclaimed Underwood. “We could have spent far more on other MIS solutions, yet not received the benefits and personal attention that we get from Avanti.”
The move to Avanti Slingshot was the first step in laying the foundation for Our Daily Bread Ministries’ plans on improving efficiencies with their mail management processes. The Ministry now has real-time access to ALL costs, from setup to fulfillment, and visibility into where they align to each specific mailing. This enables them to set goals for improvement, flexibility, and efficiency both in scheduling and costs. With the ability to capture the scheduling and cost data, they are in a much better position to identify cost-savings opportunities as well as to analyze and set goals for future growth, retention, and membership loyalty.
“Avanti has been very responsive to our requests”, claims Underwood. “It is clear they have a passion to make their system the best on the market, and have a desire to treat every customer request with respect and dignity.”
The more ownership Our Daily Bread Ministries took for the application, and the more they provided feedback, the more Avanti was able to satisfy their objectives. “We are a complex organization”, concluded Underwood. “But the Avanti team, starting with the President, have walked this journey with us; it truly feels like a partnership.”