As customer expectations for more convenient ordering, shorter runs and faster turnarounds put pressure on conventional workflows, print shops are adapting to these new realities by changing the way they do business. A new eBook from the team at PressWise by SmartSoft outlines 10 steps to ensure your workflow is structured effectively for future success.
1. Make it Easier For Customers To Order
Use public-facing storefronts with templates to attract new customers, and customized storefronts for existing clients. Showcase your entire product catalog, exposing customers to new items that they may not associate with you. Make all this available 24/7, and reduce the friction of ordering to strengthen your customer relationships.
2. Evaluate Your Current Workflow Costs
Break up your workflow into identifiable steps for each job type, and evaluate the time and employee cost of performing each step, so you can allocate costs to each step in your workflow. This will help you make an informed decision on whether it makes sense to invest in workflow automation tools.
3. Eliminate Redundant Rekeying
Once job information is entered into your system – by an estimator, CSR, sales rep, or an online storefront – that information should flow with a job through your shop without the need for rekeying. Make sure your system is fully integrated, so that data flows seamlessly with a job through you workflow.
4. Automate The Production Process
An effective automated workflow will free workers from repetitive tasks. Features such as self-quoting tools, electronic job ticketing, auto-impositioning and auto-batching eliminate touches and time-consuming manual intervention, allowing you to handle a higher volume of orders.
5. Create A Single, Standardized Workflow
Investing in a system that lets you to take orders from all sources – whether manually entered or pushed electronically via a third-party system – and injects them into the same, standardized workflow. This immediately cuts down on administrative time and cost and getting jobs into production quicker.
6. Think End-to-end
Look at a single, end-to-end system – from order entry to shipping – so orders flow through your workflow with minimal manual intervention, keeping all your valuable order data in a single system.
7. Create Internal and External Transparency
Offering your client access to tools such as order history and downloadable invoices, job status updates, and package tracking, promotes customer loyalty and peace of mind. Internally, a print management system gives staff access to real-time information so they can perform their job more effectively. Production management can see bottlenecks in the process and adjust appropriately; CSRs can easily access up-to-date job information for clients.
8. Ensure Your Team Is On Board
Define your vision and explain why change is necessary. Identify areas for improvement and create clear, measurable objectives. Appoint a project ‘champion’ with a broad understanding of your entire operation to drive implementation and change in peoples’ habits. Be proactive, setting clear goals and deadlines. Run weekly project meetings to ensure they are reached, but don’t expect 100% perfection – unforeseen things will arise in a real-life environment, which is normal and should be built into your planning.
9. Use Your Data!
Print management information systems offer real-time insight into shop performance. Custom reports can analyze sales trends, inventory levels, staff productivity, order history, storefront activity, shipping and more. This data lets you close the loop on the costs of production and job profitability, providing you with critical information to make business decisions in real time.
10. Consider SaaS And The Cloud
Rather than paying a large upfront fee, Software-as-a-Service usually involves a pay-as-you go model. Because the technology resides in the cloud, rather than hosted within your shop, the vendor bears the cost of maintenance – there are no costly servers to purchase, and no IT staff required to manage them. It also makes it easier to scale – the vendor simply increases your server and bandwidth as necessary.
As software has become more sophisticated and cloud computing made it more reliable and accessible, now is an ideal time to reevaluate your workflow. Evaluate your entire print workflow to identify opportunities for improvement, then, most importantly, get the commitment of your team to change.