With the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) program veering off the tracks, prominent mailers called for the U.S. Postal Service to hit the brakes today on the much-delayed program.
“There is a general consensus that even if the USPS stays with their commitment of May 18 it will be almost impossible for the program to begin in a successful manner,” says a memo written by Jack Widener, a respected industry consultant, that Idealliance released today to its members. Widener, a former Newsweek executive, chairs the IMb users group for the major trade association.
Dead Tree Edition has previously noted that IMb, a major strategic initiative for the Postal Service, is "a train wreck waiting to happen" because of failures in coordination, communication, and planning.
Mailers and their vendors complain that the rules and procedures for IMb are still in a state of flux. Even today, the complex and critical “Service Type Identifier Matrix” in one USPS document contained the qualifier, “Final Revision will be completed as soon as possible.
“When will the changes stop so the program can by implemented by USPS,” Widener wrote. “There are 11 open issues that are not assigned and that must be resolved with only 21 days to go.”
Among the “show stoppers” listed by another report Idealliance sent to members today is one that would force Periodicals-class co-mail participants either to “leap to electronic payment without sufficient testing or pull out of co-mail/co-pall.” The report lists other restrictions for various classes of mail on co-palletization, co-mail, palletization, and firm bundling that would result from glitches in programs related to IMb.
Perhaps postal executives realize, Widener writes, what even their underlings admit -- that USPS will not be ready on May 18 date.
If so, he argues that they should “tell us now so that all can plan accordingly and alert their customers and suppliers in the mailing supply chain. And don’t blame it on their customers; if they do this it will be not due to lack of mailer preparation. We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and invested people’s time to implement as soon as information was received from the USPS. But we must be given adequate time to implement the numerous changes that are happening."