The Ecosystem: Manage—Performance Matters

*This article is the third in a five-part series on the print ecosystem. To read the first article, click here.

A print production software ecosystem is like a relay race. There are different steps to the process, and every step is a runner in the relay. At the end of the race, each runner does their part, but it’s the team that wins the day. The first step in your printing process is input, the runner off the starting block that captures job orders using a process that standardizes every element in your system. After that comes the ever-important task of job management.

Like runners preparing for a relay who must track their statistics for continued improvement, print service providers (PSPs) and in-plant operators must manage their business workflow and track key performance indicators (KPIs) to prepare for future orders.

Doing this involves tracking every step of the job through estimating and scheduling to the final output, all the while relying on real-time data to maximize resources. It also requires you to be able to course correct quickly to ensure a smooth production process.

What is a Print Management Information System?

If you’ve been tracking your print jobs through manual efforts using an excel table, you’re doing yourself and your business a disservice. By only using manual tracking, you limit how much your business can grow. With a print management system (MIS), that growth potential becomes infinite.

A Print MIS is programming software that streamlines business processes and automates your company’s essential functions. It allows you to manage your business in an integrated platform and see data in real time. How can this help your in-print or PSP company?

  • Consolidates order intakes
  • Reduces human errors
  • Provides accurate, real-time data on job pricing and costs
  • Automatically generates and tracks in-progress jobs
  • Seamlessly creates reports for leadership
  • Gives you an overview of past and present functioning to allow you to plan better for future spikes in demand

A print MIS is vital to your print company if you want to see unbounded growth in the coming years. But that isn’t the only piece to the management puzzle.

Measuring for Success

Another part of successfully managing your print ecosystem is collecting data that helps your business continually grow and improve. A print MIS collects essential information on job progress, staffing, costs, and pricing to give you a better idea of everything going on in your company.

Most print MIS software will let you choose which data points you want to set as key performance indicators (KPIs). Tracking your business’s core functions through a select set of KPIs will help you monitor performance, manage staff, plan for capacity, and find more profitable ways to run things.

Important KPIs to Track

If you’re an in-print or PSP company just getting started with data collection, you might not even know which KPIs you’re supposed to track. While your options are essentially endless, some of the most important KPIs for a print business to track are:

  • Estimate versus actual cost comparisons
  • Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE)
  • Equipment uptime
  • Material use (includes substrates, ink, toner, etc.)
  • Waste levels
  • Reasons for waste
  • Labor efficiency
  • Productive versus non-productive time
  • Percentage of on-time vs. past due orders

Over time, other functions and modules can be added and integrated to extend the value of your business management system. The other metrics you track should align with your company’s operational goals. No matter how you collect data, you must collect it if you want to see positive results. Without data, you’ll be operationally blind and risk disappointing customers and losing funding from concerned investors.

It sounds overwhelming, but it is here that the Ricoh solution gives you two distinct advantages: First, the MIS tracks everything, and its scalable to your business challenges and changes. You don’t need to tell it to do so—it will have been doing it from the start. Just tell it which data you want to view, and it will pull it up for you.

Second, you may not know which data to analyze, but our customers do! If you invest in a Ricoh product such as RICOH ProcessDirector™, you’ll have access to our industry-leading team of consultants. They will help you determine which KPIs to keep an eye on, and they’ll show you how to generate that data.

Managing the PSP vs. In-Plant Ecosystem

While PSPs and in-plants have commonalities, their goals are different, therefore managing each operation requires distinct approaches.

Print Service Providers

Any commercial printer providing services in the 21st century should use a centralized systems of record – a print MIS - to manage its processes. It’s the brain of your entire operation, capturing data by estimating, quoting, costing, job ticketing, tracking, scheduling, managing inventory, and purchasing. It can also integrate with other business systems to streamline job onboarding and improve automation. At the end of the day, it’s not an option – having a print MIS is a requirement of owning a modern-day print shop.

Take Advantage of Your PSP Management Software

While many PSPs use an MIS, not all are taking advantage of the full potential of this integrated software. The biggest obstacle for print shops with an MIS is getting their staff to understand and use the new software correctly. Convincing your staff to get on board with your new way of doing things is critical to managing your business.

Are you wondering how your PSP can use a print MIS to its full potential and maximize your benefits? Learn all about managing a PSP ecosystem in our Commercial Printer’s Ecosystem Ebook series.

Managing In-Plant

Today’s in-plant printers support the print needs of companies and institutions while under

constant budget and resource constraints. They have to manage workflows and track data so they can have a complete understanding of orders, print volumes, capacity, service level agreement (SLA) performance, and costs. Knowing these variables is critical to providing effective print services for the organization and keeping the print work in-house.

Get Started on Your In-Plant MIS

Managing an in-plant operation requires a high level of accuracy and detail. To reach this high level, you need to commit to using the right tools to manage operations. It sounds like a big task, and it is. But all you need to know is the right place to start.

Moving from manual processes and spreadsheet management to streamlined and automated print production takes time and requires sponsorship from management and rigorous adoption by your staff. To learn more about getting started with your in-plant MIS, look at our In-Plant Printer Ecosystem Ebook series.

The Next Step in the Print Ecosystem

Taking a proactive approach to managing your software ecosystem will drive your business to its maximum potential. By using a print MIS to automate processes, collect high-level data, and limit human touchpoints, you’ll improve your in-plant or PSP business across all areas. But job management isn’t the only step in the print ecosystem.

When running the relay of a print ecosystem, if any one stage fails, the whole race will be lost. After you’ve mastered management, you need to start visualizing your results and preparing for output to avoid costly obstacles and pitfalls.

This brings you to the next step in the print ecosystem: You need to prepare.

 

 

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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