The Ecosystem Finale: Your Print Workflow UNRAVELED

Throughout our Ecosystem Series, we’ve helped you unravel the five stages of your print workflow with a blog post, webinar, and eBook for each.

Before reading today’s post, catch up on the previous five posts if you’ve missed any:

  1. Input: Much More Than File Submission
  2. Manage: Performance Matters
  3. Prepare: Looking Towards the Finish Line
  4. Produce: Make it Happen
  5. Output: Finish and Regroup

Today, we’re concluding the series with a quick recap of each stage and real-world use cases from customers already updating their print workflows with Ricoh’s workflow management solution.

You’ll learn how to maximize all job opportunities, automate tasks to mitigate errors, implement file checks and approvals, ensure you have a system of record, and protect your profit margin.

Unraveling Your Print Workflow

Vince Lombardi famously said, “Hope is not a strategy.”

Not only that, hope can be painfully expensive when it doesn’t work out. Business longevity can’t rest on hope: it needs data, automation, and efficiency.

But this reality conflicts with the way workflows typically develop—organically, adjusting and evolving over time to meet various needs, addressing exceptions, and adding on emerging tech.

This organic approach works. But it’s rarely efficient, and the complexity grows increasingly unwieldy over time with many customized solutions.

Every printer eventually reaches a point where the workflow is a tangled knot of processes. Unraveling that workflow is critical for print businesses that need to reshape strategy around data, automation, and efficiency. Here’s how you do it.

Input: So Much More than Job Submission

Unraveling your print workflow starts at the very beginning: the methods and systems by which you receive print jobs. Job input still ends up going through many loops between job submission and delivery—but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Email is a common method: around 30% of print shops receive orders this way.

20 years ago, email-based order intake was an attractive option. It was more convenient for some customers than other methods in use at the time, and it allowed customers to convey data more concretely than via a phone call.

But email is no longer the most efficient or accurate input method. Email orders must be manually keyed into workflow management software, increasing the chance of errors. And customers may not include all necessary parameters, leading to ongoing back and forth communications.

Want to dive deeper? Watch the webinar, Your Print Production Workflow UNRAVELED.

Manage: Automate Job and Data Management

Next up, data management. You only make money when you estimate properly by accurately applying your actual cost. Taking the most cost-efficient production path is the other component to increasing profits. Manually balancing printer load and job management is often more of a guessing game than a science—often leading to a 50% to 125% swing from the original order price!

But Ricoh’s print workflow management solution flips the equation, instantly finding you the most cost-efficient production path and ensuring workloads are balanced.

Prepare: Get Your Files Right Before Production

When input and management are untangled, you’ve already addressed the majority of discrepancies and errors. But here at the prepress stage, you have one more opportunity to address issues before they cost you (more) money.

It’s not just about having the right prepress software in place; it’s also about how your team uses that software. Put the checks and balances in place here to verify that your files are right (not to mention processes like imposition planning) before they go to print.

Produce: Streamlined Process = Profitable Outputs

The Produce stage is about more than creating files. It’s about document management and understanding your system of record.

Once you have all the artwork, content, and data prepared, it’s time to optimize those elements. File optimization takes the bloat out of your prepress files, improving file handling speeds and optimizing archival storage. Ricoh software also helps with batching, reducing material consumption, and improving output efficiency.

Output: Fulfill, Track, Report, Regroup

One of our top recommendations here is a single system of record: one workflow management system governing all your workflows and service channels. It’s common for businesses that have grown by acquisition to maintain multiple workflows or even ecosystems. This is expensive and complicated to fix, but it unquestionably hurts all five stages.

Think about it this way: every time your press stops because a job came to it that—for whatever reason—couldn’t be fulfilled, you’ve lost substrate, worker hours, and ultimately output capacity and money. If the key to success is protecting profit margins, you cannot afford to fix these production issues.

Workflow Management Solution Use Cases

What do Ricoh’s workflow management solutions deliver in real life? Here are a pair of real-world case studies where Ricoh delivered on ROI.

Small-Medium Businesses (SMB)

One SMB faced significant workflow challenges:

  • Manual input via email
  • Lost job details
  • Re-keying information for every job
  • No system of record
  • Minimal and manual financial reporting and job tracking

What’s more, make-ready files were cumbersome, with unclear communication leading to lost revenue.

Ricoh partnered with this printer to solve these workflow challenges using a mix of Ricoh and best-in-class third-party tools. The solution included a subscription-based eStorefront, templates, and an MIS (which served as the system of record).

With a better intake process, a single source of information, and drastically increased visibility, this print SMB saw impressive outcomes. They were able to repurpose one full-time headcount to other revenue-generating responsibilities, softening the pain of the ongoing hiring challenges facing the industry.

Even more impressive: before Ricoh, this print shop spent an average of two days preparing a make-ready file—sometimes extending to four days. Now they do so in just a few hours.

Automation’s impact on capacity and throughput is exponential, enabling the business to drastically increase its ability to serve customers efficiently and accurately.


An enterprise print business faced a similar set of challenges, including:

  • Manual input via email
  • Lost job details
  • Re-keying information for every job
  • No system of record

Given the size of operations, the business encountered other issues at scale. Their operations were spread across 12 systems to manage print, postal, insertion, and reporting, and these systems fed into four print centers, each with its own unique mix of print and insertion equipment.

In the end, the business was manually processing and distributing thousands of orders every month—an impressive output despite the many challenges.

By implementing RICOH ProcessDirector, our flagship automated workflow management solution, and integrating inserters, the business achieved $1 million in annual savings— just by eliminating redundancies. They also successfully repurposed four full-time employees to revenue-generating activities (one at each center).

Unravel Your Print Workflow with Ricoh

Ricoh Software provides a wide range of workflow optimization and web enablement solutions to businesses of every size across many industries. We’ll work with you to unravel your workflow, automating as much of that workflow as possible and transforming your business’s capabilities.

Ready to unravel your workflow and take back control? Contact Us Today.

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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