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The Datamax Thinking Blog

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3 Ways to Put the 'Pro' Back into Your Production Print Solution


Successful planning and implementation often lies in the inherent capabilities of your production print partner — making long-term value and demonstrated expertise part of your decision making process. 

Ever started a home improvement project that should have been left to the pros?

Whether it was a leaky faucet that led to a monsoon of other issues, or a home renovation gone awry, we’ve been there. We know. With the idea of cutting a few costs, we find out quickly that DIY can quickly lead to “doing it all wrong.”

If you’re a commercial printer or CRD that’s recently acquired new production equipment, how do you know if you’re dealing with the pros? If you’re a business considering moving outsourced work in-house, how do you obtain the professional guidance and expertise to make your initiative profitable?

Building a professional production print landscape requires assessment, consultation and taking a panoramic view of your processes… from end to end. The challenges are real, and they are prevalent. Just a few scenarios inside today's press room...

  • Overcoming workflow bottlenecks while meeting quicker turnaround times,
  • Exploring more efficient processes in a hybrid manual/automated production environment,
  • Dealing with untimely interruptions from persistent service issues, and
  • Improving the customer experience in the digital (I need it now!) era.

Successful planning and implementation often lies in the inherent capabilities of your production print partner — making long-term value and demonstrated expertise part of your decision making process. Purchasing not merely on price, but on a well-planned, executed and realized return on technology investment.

Here's 3 Ways to Put the 'Pro' Back into Your Production Print Solution

1. Be Proactive About Industry Evolution

The Production print industry – not unlike any other today – is dealing with a vast evolution, particularly with the expectations of a younger, more demanding clientele. When the challenges arise that come with quicker turnarounds and increasing client demands, in-plants, quick print shops and commercial printers find it harder to adapt.

Whether you’re a quick print shop or a large-scale CRD, there’s no denying that challenges exist when it comes to managing production demand. Three universal elements – faster turnaround times, shorter run lengths, and increased job complexity – all contribute to the trouble in how to invest in this print evolution.

Investing in tools to improve workflow automation can certainly ease industry pains, but only if they are properly vetted, measured and utilized by the production staff. According to a recent InfoTrends report, nearly 68% of print/marketing service providers currently own print management information system (MIS) software.

Despite this high level of print MIS ownership, service providers cite a number of production bottlenecks. The top three bottleneck issues reported were: “Dealing with a high number of small jobs” (36.2%), “Keeping up with change/training users” (27.7%) and “Working with legacy or old software systems” (27.7%).

The numbers suggest that:

  • Print providers are not taking full advantage of their workflow automation software,
  • The team wasn’t properly trained on the software, or
  • Or it just wasn’t a good fit.

If you’re a printer introducing automation, ask yourself how deep your partner is willing to dig into your print workflow environment. Can they demonstrate that the right tools – be they finishing equipment or automation software – are being introduced?

If you’re already utilizing such tools, ask your partner to track operational performance and evaluate the effectiveness of solutions in action. Have them review performance metrics and SLAs, and how well solutions are contributing to your business goals. Ask them what training opportunities exist for your staff. As the InfoTrends report states, “effectively managing challenges involves planning and documenting patterns and processes.”

The best response to the evolution is education. Your partner should also be your resource, your trusted adviser. And they should be held accountable as such.

2. Protect Against Interruptions

There’s no room for interruptions in today’s print room.

It could be downtime, caused by lingering equipment issues or just from a slow technician response. It could be a print operator pulled away from production to email a client pertaining to the job at hand. But in the case of properly vetting a production partner, you show allow no room for compromise in responsive service and advanced technician training.

Do your service technicians show up on time? What is "on time" for them? Valuable metrics such as Response Time, Response + Resolution Time, and First Call Completion Rate are crucial elements to the responsive tendencies of your service provider. Ask for the numbers. See that they’re continually being measured, and improved.

Do your service technicians actually know what they’re doing? Advanced level training from represented manufacturers— while a huge financial investment for service providers — pays huge dividends in uncovering and resolving escalated service calls. The device-specific and online training involved with earning certifications like Canon ATSP is both a refresher course on the hardware and, for you, validation that your potential issue is not beyond their capabilities.

So what will advanced certifications do for you?

  • Equips your technical representative to solve a broader range of problems
  • Fulfills response time promises (just showing up quickly is not enough)
  • Reduces your service problem diagnosis and resolution time
  • Enhances the completion of your service calls on the very first visit
  • Ensures continuity in service approach across all technicians that may support you
  • Positions expertise in delivering preventive (proactive) maintenance for you company
  • Fosters team problem-solving when collaboration is required for complex support issues
  • Maximizes your productivity and ultimate return on technology investment

3. Produce Better Workflows

Getting stuck with broken workflows can occur anywhere within the production process — before and after any actual printing occurs.

According to a 2016 InfoTrends report, 45.6 of all costs associated with the production print process occurred during the print process. What that means, of course, is that 54.4 % of all costs are tied up in pre and post-production workflow.

This includes, but is certainly not limited to:

  • Internal/external creative
  • Editorial
  • Product management
  • Warehouse/archiving
  • Fulfillment/shipping/distribution
  • Business communication, both internal and external

Organizations must examine every stage of the document life cycle to fully improve efficiency. They must take a holistic approach to their workflow, seeing the process from a panoramic perspective.
Web-2-workflow introduces a new standard for streamlining and automating the production process from end to end. As an example, Canon's PRISMAdirect accelerates processes for the print operator, from order acquisition, pre-flight, make-ready, client communication, all the way to production and fulfillment.

  • Just a few of the automated processes at work with PRISMAdirect:
  • Automated order acquisition
  • Automated conversion, preflight and preview
  • Automated post-print (accounting and shipping information pushed directly to appropriate departments)
  • Automated Reporting (i.e. - what percentage of time is the press running?)
  • Automated, flexible customer email communication

Bring the "Pro" Back into Production Print

Are you ready to mazimize the potential that’s sitting in your press room? Tired of leaving potential jobs behind? Do you have little or no trust in your current workflow processes? Perhaps it’s time to evaluate your current production print landscape, so that you can operate at peak efficiency, reliability and profitability.

Make the most of production run time. Realize better efficiencies and maximize profitability in production. Call the pros. Get started with your Production Print Assessment today!


Topics: Office Equipment Print Management Production Print Color Printing