Jan 13, 2017
There are still a few more items in the Workflow Quiz to work through before we can say that every stone has been turned over in the quest for optimization and documentation. In this segment it’s time to look at what processes you have that might qualify as islands of automation that should be linked together.
Most print shops have some automation in place. Tools are purchased to meet a specific need, and sometimes suites are brought in to automate specific sets of processes. What tools and suites have you brought in over the years to automate? Web-to-print solutions? Order entry and management solutions? Job tracking? Are your production processes linked to your accounting processes?
Workflow Automation orchestrates the handoffs between processes to eliminate human intervention and create seamless activity from the start of a job to delivery. It may include automation of resource allocation, flow control, and consumables ordering, but always includes reporting as each step is completed.
Over the years I’ve visited shops with some amazing automation. Some was bought, some was assembled from a variety of software sources, and still other solutions were written in-house. In most cases the teams working in the shop started their automation out of a need to streamline multiple job onboarding processes or tie multiple touchpoints into a single process. The goal is always to move jobs through faster. Read more »
Dec 20, 2016
The fifth item in the Workflow Quiz is where the business of making money begins. Up to now we’ve looked at processes and tracking, but now it’s time to take a critical look at what happens when a customer wants to place an order and you want to accept that order. In a sense we’re coming back to the beginning now that you’ve named all of the steps in the workflow and have a good idea of the paths that jobs take through your shop.
Onboarding is the set of processes the start when a customer places an order and ends when the job is in the production workflow. It includes acquisition of the final job specifications, print files, associated data and resource files, job ticketing, logging the job into the accounting system, establishing proofing requirements, defining delivery requirements, and defining the payment methods.
How many ways can a customer place an order with you? Are customers required to have a sales person, or is it possible for anyone to place an order over the phone, via fax or email, or using a web-to-print or web-to-order process? How the orders are received and verified drives many of the next steps.
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Sep 6, 2016
Clearly, the idea of documenting your workflow architecture and environment resonated with those who read the last installment. It is not surprising! We all know that every business process should be backed up with documentation, but it is easy push it down the priority list. Perhaps raising the visibility will help raise the priority!
The next item in the Workflow Quiz asked if there was an owner for your workflow process, and if you have an assigned owner, does that person have a named backup. It is an important question because without a named owner your workflow processes are at risk. In addition, without a backup, the risk only grows.
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Jul 19, 2016
Most companies that have a printing operation believe that they have a workflow process. In-plant departments, packaging converters, direct mail providers, commercial printers, sign shops and transaction producers all know that to keep the business running they must identify each job, break it down into components, and track it through their organization until it is delivered to the end client. That makes the obvious answer to the question: Yes! Of course our company has a workflow. Jobs come in and they flow through the organization.
What is Workflow?
The repeatable and auditable tasks, events, and processes used to consistently move work from job onboarding through to completion. Some or all tasks may be automated toward the goal of super-efficiency and predictability in production and supply chain management.
On closer inspection, however, what most organizations have is a series of processes that have grown over the years to mitigate bottlenecks as they arise. Whiteboards, spreadsheets projected on the wall, boards with sticky notes holding job information, flags and lights visible across the enterprise, and physical job jackets, emerge over time as teams look for ways to ensure that all of the stakeholders know the status of the jobs coming through the plant. While all of these processes serve a purpose, they rarely provide a consistent view of a slice of time because they are only tied together by the thinnest of strings and an agreement among the participants to keep the reporting current. What happens when a team member is on vacation or new team members are added? The process often suffers because new thought processes were added. New team members may have new ideas, even better ideas, on how to move work and report on progress. That begets change and evolution, but is it a workflow?
Unless all of the processes are tied into a Read more »
Jun 2, 2016
Following the spring hardware updates, today HP announced a range of solutions and enhancements to their mobile printing and print analytics solutions strategies for business. HP is addressing IT needs and end user expectations with these new solutions that attend to security challenges, cost containment, deployment issues, and device lifecycle management that IT struggles with, while also addressing end user wants such as flexibility and device diversity. Read more »
Mar 11, 2016
Yesterday, March 10th, Xerox announced advancements to its Xerox ConnectKey technology to expand what multifunction printers (MFPs) can do in the workplace. The Xerox ConnectKey-enabled i-Series MFPs are equipped with ready-to-use apps, speed up paper-dependent business processes and make it easier for users to collaborate and work more effectively. The technology also gives Xerox and its partners opportunities to better understand customer business needs and uncover new recurring revenue streams. Read more »
Nov 17, 2015
On November 16th, Xerox announced two new workflow automation solutions for the insurance industry and HR departments, updated versions of two of their platforms (Digital Alternatives and DocuShare), and new components of their MPS strategy for the channel.
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Jun 11, 2015
I spoke recently at a user group meeting composed largely of commercial printers when the topic of the ‘Cloud’ came up. I was a bit surprised to hear a very high level of suspicion. I asked the audience: “Who is excited about the opportunities presented by the Cloud.” Two hands went up. “Who’s not?” About half the audience raised their hands. Multiple questions were put forward about data security, possible integration issues, and overall viability. The bad vibes were much stronger than I anticipated.
It continued. The ‘Cloud’ was dismissed as a marketing buzzword. “It’s just a question of where the server resides,” said one attendee. Others were very skeptical about turning over their production data or any client data to a third party. Some said that their agreements with clients would not allow it. Another attendee told a horror story of a cloud service that became unavailable for two days because of a snowstorm and power outage on the East Coast. There was also concern that integrations that their companies had built on top of workflow software could stop working if software revisions were made to the cloud offering. Loss of control, concerns about expense, and cloud-based licensing issues were also key themes. One attendee described the cloud today as a “royal cluster of inconsistent services.” Wow.
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May 13, 2015
Interprint one of the world’s most prominent manufacturers of décor paper for the laminate industry has gone digital. In a press release dated May 5th 2015, the company stated their strategy to use digital printing technology to address the growing demand for shorter runs of décor paper used in the manufacturing process of decorative laminates used for furniture, cabinetry, kitchen counters, doors, and other woodworking applications. Interprint is using the marketing slogan “Hello World!” to introduce its clients to this investment in digital innovation, a KBA RotaJET with a print width of 1.68 meters capable of speed up to 150 meters per minute. This CMYK device is capable of producing over 3.7 million square meters per month (based on a speed of 150 meters per minute, a 1.68 meter width, 2 shifts a day, and 22 days a month operating at 70% productivity).
Interprint is using the slogan “Hello world!” to promote its new capabilities (Source: Interprint)
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May 12, 2015
The importance of workflow and the matching software ecosystem has been frequently publicised and although not every user might have realised it yet, all production printing hardware vendors are strengthening their offerings in workflow and solutions nowadays. The importance of workflow is however in stark contrast with the lack of approaches in making the benefits of workflow visible in an exhibition or open house environment. Software remains intangible and while the benefit of some features can be calculated in time and money, for other features like customer satisfaction, error reduction, new services offerings and overall process efficiency calculating the exact value for a single business case is much harder.
Canon-Océ already organised several Commercial Printing Business Days, but for the event that took place in April 2015 the software portfolio was targeted to take centre stage. Presentations, workshops and customer testimonials focussed on workflow solutions. Canon-Océ invited users and prospects with interest in workflow solutions and had a total attendance of 550 visitors from around the globe at the three days of the event.
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