A New Breed of Print Production Workflow

Ryan McAbee
Feb 5, 2015

A new class of production workflows, which we refer to as “compact workflows,” received attention in 2014 and should gain traction with customers this year. Unlike existing workflows for digital printing, compact workflows incorporate aspects of online ordering, print management, production workflow, output management, and reporting to handle a high volume of low run-length jobs. Instead of trying to satisfy every technical or business need, as is often the case with software that has a singular focus (e.g., Web-to-Print, Print MIS), compact workflows either integrate with existing software solutions or implement only the feature set needed for this type of high volume, on-demand work.

Compact workflows typically share the following traits:

  • Delivered via software-as-a-service (SaaS)
  • Built upon the premise that the majority of jobs originate online (in some cases integrating orders from multiple sources) and are standardized into a single back-end production system
  • Incoming orders are loaded into the system where they are preflighted, routed based on metadata, imposed, and batched for production
  • Contains print management functions for job ticketing and scheduling, usually through batching via advanced queries with a focus on meeting service-level agreements
  • Output management and routing to a variety of digital front ends
  • Includes shop floor data collection with live updating of job status that is consolidated into user-customizable dashboard views
  • Additional integrations to other online platforms, e.g., third-party shipping, accounting

Source: OneFlow Systems

 

A few of the compact workflows on the market today started as in-house, custom developed software for printers who needed to process tens of thousands of orders in a single day. We expect these compact workflows to evolve from their niche (designed for one printer) origins to incorporate additional requirements of commercial printers, and to some extent this is already happening. An example would be more robust options for printers to accept ad-hoc orders that do not originate online.

DocketManager (CA), OneFlow Systems (UK), PressWise (US), Printernet (US), and PrintIQ (AU) are a few of the companies currently offering compact workflow solutions.

InfoTrends’ Road Map 2015: Production Workflow and Customized Communications Solutions highlights this and other workflow software trends we expect to have an impact this year.

 

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