*This article is the first in a seven-part series on the print ecosystem.To read the second article, click here.
The Ecosystem. Though a widely used and accepted term in the print industry, I admit to struggling with what it actually means. It seems a little too clean a term that tries to explain a very complex model. The answer to ‘What is a print production software ecosystem?’ fluctuates depending on who you ask and what they are using it for.
Some reduce the term ecosystem to being the print process from concept to delivery. Others describe a convoluted process with lots of industry buzzwords including end-to-end and optimization.
To simplify what can become ridiculously complicated, this is a preface to a 5-part series for in-plants and print service providers that breaks down every step in a print production software ecosystem in vivid detail.
Think of it as a relay race. Every runner has their role, but it takes a team plan to ensure that everyone understands the pace and handoff points. The lead runner has a starting block to help them launch, so they spend extra time understanding how to use it to get the best advantage when the starter pistol fires. Every additional team member understands their role in the race and the importance of each handoff.
This is the starting block that captures job orders using a process that standardizes every element. Given the potential variability of each job, how files are entered often determines the outcome.
Track every step of the job through estimating, scheduling, relying on real-time data to maximize your resources and being able to quickly course correct to ensure a smooth production process.
Visualizing what the result looks like and preparing for the output is the key to avoiding costly obstacles and pitfalls that hinder your bottom line.
Optimize the job files so the output matches the customer’s intentions.
Deliver the best product possible based on customer specifications and take corrective action over any issues that may have arisen before inputting the next job.
A job should not succeed or fail in a single stage.
Take a proactive approach to managing your software ecosystem infrastructure to drive your business. The days of relying on whiteboards, spreadsheets, and team knowledge to bring work onboard, capture the right specifications, and optimize production should be in your past.
No matter the size of your plant or facility, limiting human touchpoints on a job through automation and having a smooth handoff from step to step is your path to efficiency and improved profitability. That is my definition of an ideal ecosystem!
To browse each of the seven blogs in The Ecosystem series, click here.
Meet the Author
Linnea is Ricoh’s Director of Global Marketing, Alliances & Operations. She is responsible for growing the worldwide awareness of and demand for the production workflow software and solutions portfolio. Linnea is a brand specialist with more than 25 years of experience, having previously held key leadership positions at Hunter Douglas, Qwest, and PepsiCo. Linnea holds an MBA from Hoffstra University and Bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and International Affairs from the University of New Hampshire. Linnea manages global strategic partnerships and marketing operations for Ricoh, giving her a comprehensive view of the business, customers, and markets. An accredited global marketing leader, Linnea is passionate about small businesses, even volunteering her marketing communications, social media, and digital marketing expertise to small businesses and associations. Her goal is always to help other businesses thrive. She authors many Ricoh blog posts to this end.
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