Industry contacts report continuing frustration getting problems resolved and questions answered regarding IMb, one of USPS’s major strategic efforts. Mailers are having trouble getting postal officials even to discuss the challenges that might derail the program and are questioning whether IMb, already delayed twice, will be ready for implementation next year as scheduled.
USPS last month pushed off implementation of IMb once again to a three-phase process -- as Dead Tree Edition predicted -- that is to begin in May. Some chastised me for improperly abbreviating the name, which USPS refers to as IMb. That seems DUMb to me, but so be it.
Representatives of mailers, printers, and mailing-industry vendors in such organizations as Idealliance and the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom) are nearly unanimous in their frustration with the Postal Service’s lack of communication and planning regarding IMb.
“How can we implement IMb when we customers are uncovering things at the eleventh hour? When the switch is flipped will it work?” reads one of a litany of concerns recorded at a recent Idealliance meeting. “There is a lack of direction,” reads another. “We seem to take one step forward and two back."
Some in the mailing industry who must communicate IMb requirements to their own organizations now find themselves in hot water: Their bosses can’t believe the Postal Service’s decisions, planning, and communication regarding IMb could possibly be so bad.
Since the Idealliance meeting, yet another communication breakdown has emerged: Postal officials have decided that mailers must presort addresses before assigning an IMb. That will force mail vendors to undo much of the work they have already done on IMb because they were planning to assign bar codes before presort. Perhaps the Postal Service's IMb folks have been attending the William Burrus School of Customer Relations. (See “When business is down, kick the customers.”)
Intelligent Mail Barcodes are a printing issue as well as a postal issue because there have been questions regarding how well USPS equipment can read IMbs produced by printers’ current inkjet machines. Despite their complaints about implementation, mailers are generally supportive of the IMb concept, which should enable the Postal Service to track mail as it moves through the system, spot problems, and optimize its processes.
A source reports that when he asked an industry expert to explain what was going on with the program, the expert replied that “IMb is too complex for mere mortals to understand.”
To get a taste for the complexity, check out the slide below from an IMB DPP that had MTAC LOL because the TWTDSTR. Translation: At a recent Mailers Technical Advisory Committee meeting, industry representatives laughed at a postal official's Death by PowerPoint presentation because of this slide in which the type was too darn small to read.
Not that anyone could have understood the slide even if the type had been larger.