Your Customer's Biggest Workflow Bottlenecks and Initiatives

In-Plants and Print Service Providers are Having Trouble Doing More With Less

  • Patricia Ames
  • |
  • December 13, 2018

The best way for office equipment dealers to move beyond being just "the printer guy" and become an invaluable component of their customers' businesses is by having an intimate understanding of their customers' biggest problems and needs. With this knowledge, dealers can spend a lot more time talking with the customer about the solutions and not just the difficulties. It helps dealers ask the right questions, so they can guide customers to the software that can solve their problems.  

In recent studies* from In-plant Graphics (IPG) and Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends (IT), professionals from in-plant print centers and commercial print service providers (PSP), respectively, discussed workflow bottlenecks and initiatives. Both studies revealed that in-plants and commercial PSPs don't have the resources to keep up with the increasing demand for high volumes of short-run jobs. Because of this, in-plants and PSPs are rolling out initiatives to address their biggest workflow bottlenecks.

Breaking down today's biggest workflow bottlenecks

At in-plants, the biggest workflow bottlenecks are the product of too much work combined with the lack of human and technological resources. Respondents told IPG that "dealing with shorter print runs/higher number of small jobs" (49 percent) and "lack of staff" (48 percent) to handle them are their biggest workflow bottlenecks.Respondents also listed "getting print-ready jobs into the print center" (35 percent), "customizing the workflow to meet our needs/managing many workflows" (30 percent), "reducing turnaround time" (29 percent) and "working with legacy systems" (18 percent).     

Just like in-plants, commercial PSPs are struggling with increased demand and a lack of resources to deal with them. Although PSPs don't think they're undermanned like in-plants do, 44 percent blame increasing demands for small jobs as their biggest bottleneck. PSPs also said that among their chief problems were increasing throughput and shortening production times (37 percent), customizing and managing workflows (31 and 39 percent, respectively), and customer onboarding (20 percent).

Addressing problems: workflow initiatives for in-plants and commercial PSPs

Workflow initiatives at in-plants and commercial PSPs weren't very different. Cross-training staff was the most popular response in both the IPG and IT reports (47 percent and 45 percent), while reducing manual labor (42 percent and 23 percent), improving automation (38 percent and 39 percent), and improving customer interaction through web-based systems (40 percent and 21 percent) were also top priorities for in-plants and commercial PSPs. In-plant respondents were also interested in improving print quality and reducing errors (39 percent), while commercial PSPs were looking for a way to improve their finishing automation capabilities (21 percent).

Solutions that solve problems and meet initiatives

With the right software in place — like that developed by Rochester Software Associates — dealers can eliminate many of their customers' workflow bottlenecks and simultaneously help them achieve workflow initiatives.

One of the best tools for doing this is a Web to print (W2P) solution. RSA's offering, WebCRD, makes it very easy for users to create and submit jobs over the web. The solution offers job tracking, so customers can check the status of their job in real time. This should help businesses who want to improve their web submission/ordering processes. The solution can also eliminate bottlenecks associated with jobs arriving to the print shop before they're ready to print and help the print shop increase their capacity to take on more jobs without adding more staff.   

Meanwhile, with QDirect — an output management and workflow automation platform —customers can overcome the barrage of incoming short-run jobs, even if they're undermanned. The solution can eliminate manual touches, which can free up some time that customers can use to cross-train their staff. The solution also delivers a powerful workflow engine that is simple to manage, which should improve throughput capacity and job turnaround times.

In today's production print environment, W2P and workflow automation are more than just tools that can give you an edge — they are a necessity, and it's the job of office equipment, BTA and independent dealers to communicate this message. One of the most efficient ways to eliminate your bottlenecks and meet your goals is through automation. If customers want more time to cross-train their staff, fewer manual processes, more refined automation and an improved job submission experience through the web, then turning to W2P and workflow automation can be the magic bullet.  

Contact your RSA Business Development Manager today to learn more about you can solve your customer's bottlenecks.

*Studies are: "Software and Automation Trends in the In-plant Industry," In-plant Graphics, 2018 and "North American Production Software Investment Outlook: 2018," Keypoint Intelligence| InfoTrends.

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About the Author

Patricia Ames

Patricia Ames is senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 10 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community. Follow her on Twitter at @OTGPublisher or contact her by email at patricia@bpomedia.com.

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