"Rolling with the Workflow" is a three-part series to help identify candidates for Output Management workflow software. In part one, we cover how to quickly assess a printer environment. Part 2 will describe job management and how it can add value to your solution. Part 3 will look at how solutions can adapt to vertical markets and applications such as Variable Data Printing.
Always Start with Where You Are
You might be tempted to begin a sales process with the obvious benefits—workflow software can increase productivity, reduce costs, maximize utilization, and improve turnaround time. All true, but to be most relevant and helpful, you should first learn what's happening today on the shop floor.
Here are the first four questions to ask and why:
- What industry are we in?
Educational print shops operate very differently than industrial or financial ones. Different verticals have different input sources, expectations of turn around, accounting methods and applications.
- Are multiple printers or different brands of printers outputting jobs?
This mix might create numerous workflow silos that are tied to clusters of like devices and run as separate islands in the same shop.
- What types of jobs are running through those printers and at what volumes?
The more variation in documents, the more valuable it is to have the right jobs going to the right devices. The higher the volume, the greater the need for automated efficiency.
- Is there an easy way to know the current status of all jobs in the shop?
The key to effective business decisions is timely and accurate information.
A universal output management solution such as QDirect™ can eliminate concerns about printer types, printer brands, and DFE's allowing for decisions about how and where a job is printed to be based on the best printer for a job, not workflow limitations.
Four Questions to Take This Job and Print It
Once you have a handle on the hardware and software in the print shop, take a closer look at the jobs being produced:
- What are the three most important jobs in the shop?
This helps you explain issues such as how transactional jobs may require more advanced workflow solutions and greater capacity.
- What equipment is used to produce those jobs?
Determine if the right devices are being used the right way at the right time.
- What are the manual steps needed to produce important jobs and current workarounds?
Manual steps take more time and can lead to mistakes and missed deliveries.
- How much work is being outsourced?
If the shop can't handle volume because of slow throughput, more printers or better software could resolve that issue through efficiency and automation.
Know When an Output Management Workflow Solution is Needed.
These eight questions and more are all included in the QDirect Sales Tool being developed right now by Rochester Software Associates. The tool also helps describe basic and advanced job management and how workflows can be customized within vertical markets.