*This article is the second in a seven-part series on the print ecosystem. To read the third article, click here.
The lead runner in a relay race has a starting block to help them launch. As the first one out, the lead runner can win or lose the race for the team long before handing the baton off to the next runner.
In a print software ecosystem, your starting block must be a solid input system that captures job orders using a process that standardizes every element. Without it, your job will have a wobbly start and isn’t likely to arrive at a winning finish. It may seem simple, but job input is much more than file submission; way more complex than you may think.
Job Input: The Starting Block
In some ways, this description is correct, but it only scratches the surface of everything that input is and everything it can be.
A robust input process captures your job order and streamlines every single element of that order. How? Every job has commonalities and differences. You can standardize the common things while maintaining a unique workflow for each job with a high-performing input system in place. It doesn’t matter if you’re an in-plant printer or a print service provider (PSP). How your jobs are entered will determine their outcome, and every printer has the same goal – a quality output for the customer.
What Are We Missing During Job Input?
One of the most common ways that orders get sent in is by email. While this may seem like the best option, it has its limitations. Namely, email requires various manual actions to process jobs into production properly. All those human touchpoints take time and may result in errors. In short – it’s inefficient.
Establishing procedures to attach the correct content and data files to the right production job is crucial to avoiding costly mistakes like printing the wrong version of a file or specifying the inaccurate finishing. The best path to efficiency is to automate the interaction between the requesting customer and the print shop, eliminating opportunities for human error. Managing customer files using a print MIS or production workflow management system allows automation to be applied to downstream file preparation. That way, you can reach your company’s maximum efficiency.
Reduce Costly Errors by Streamlining Input
As we said earlier, input is much more than the submission of files. It’s an opportunity to give your entire print process a competitive push off the starting block. One way to do this is by using preset templates that make ordering even easier for your customers.
Similar to a pick-and-play for templates, everything that each customer likes will be held in a centralized system that they can access easily to make repeat orders. That way, your customers can quickly go in, choose the paper and quantity they want, and place their order through a simple, streamlined process.
Get the Maximum Results by Customizing Your Input
Streamlining your input will give you a strong start off the block. But, if you really want to win the race, you need to up your game more than that.
Although there are certain commonalities across various workflows, every print job is nevertheless unique. This is why using a standardized workflow that allows you to customize operations for each job will help you reach the highest output level. Doing this also gives you the ability to handle the variabilities of every job, which is especially important when you’re working on such tight margins.
Ricoh is helping printers customize their approach and maximize their results by doing more than just accepting file submissions. With our network of software solutions, you have the ability to handle your customer’s campaigns and marketing automation systems, allowing your business to integrate a marketing automation system into your storefront. We can also manage and analyze data for you and your customers.
Expand Your Services with Impactful Software
Whether it’s campaign management, digital asset management, or cross-media marketing, the right print ecosystem software can help you expand your print services beyond traditional physical printing. Ricoh integrates several software tools that help your business reach its highest potential.
- Digital asset management tools that handle versioning, archiving and analysis can keep your business ahead. These tools track live updates, meaning they’ll capture any change to ensure you’re always working with the latest information.
- Cross-media marketing services can drive and personalize your campaigns and expand your revenue options by offering them as a value-added service.
The best way to expand your services is to find software that integrates several useful tools into the same workflow, thus automating your business processes without adding administrative costs.
Solutions for All
While in-plant printers and print service providers aim to provide the best output for their customers, the input process for each can be different.
For an in-plant printer, you’re not worried as much about profit as about producing high-quality output for your internal customer. By minimizing errors and increasing your job input efficiency, every piece of output you create will strengthen the validity of your department.
Download our In-Plant Printer's Ecosystem eBook series to learn more about maximizing input as an in-plant printer.
Printer Service Providers
Unlike in-plant printers, PSPs work on small margins and are concerned with making a profit in tandem with quality output, so having to reprint a job because of a mistake can wipe out all the potential earnings on a job. By automating each process, PSPs can keep their production efficient and remove as many manual errors – and the costs they create – as possible.
By mastering each stage of your PSP ecosystem, learn how to stay ahead of your slim margins. Read our PSP Ecosystem eBook series.
Analytics at Every Stage
While it may seem like mere file submission from the outside, the input process is the starting point that sets the tone for an entire print job. It’s not just input—it’s job submission, customer communications, and marketing automation. And that whole process is wrapped up in data analytics.
At Ricoh, we can track your data and help you see your overall performance, open rates, and job success based on when and if things were uploaded and printed. With us, analytics is at every stage of your workflow, and data is the key to ensuring overall success.
The Bottom Line
While your relay race starts with input, it’s the entire race or workflow that matters. Using web and document templates and automating each step will help you streamline input and allow your customers to maintain their brand and easily process orders.
Once the orders are off, it’s time to pass the baton to the next step in the process: managing your software ecosystem to drive your business forward.
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.
Join Ricoh experts online and discover new ways to create efficiencies, reduce costs and improve profitability through our software and solutions—visit our entire webinar series to help grow your business.