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Commentary & Analysis

From MIS to I-COM (Part 2)


By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: January 18, 2007

--- Special Feature From MIS to I-COM (Part 2) As you get started, training is a critical step By Terry Nagi See Part 1 January 11, 2007 -- In a print world that demands immediacy, acceptance and utilization of I-COM (Internet Customer Order Communications) is a key issue. For individual printers seeking to remain competitive and technologically ahead of their competitors, I-COM assists in the de-commodization of print. Potential functions for internet automation of communications between printer and clients can include: * Customer initiated requests for estimates via the Internet for new print projects * Request for estimates on previous orders * Entering an order for a previously produced print job * Entering an order for a new print job based information on the customer's original request for estimate * Automated confirmation of the receipt of the order (printer confirmation to customer via the Internet * Automated or human reply to customer on expected date of delivery * Automated information to customer if the schedule date changes * Internet transmitted requests for customer initiated changes to order * Automated confirmation from the printer of receipt of changes * Confirmation of date of completion * Information on shipment * If mailed, confirmation of mailing * If fulfillment is involved, confirmation of entry into inventory and current inventory levels * System to release inventory in the fulfillment process and confirmation of shipment, with links to shippers (ex: FedEx tracking number), and change in inventory levels * Internet invoice from printer to customer * Payment to printers' bank via direct electronic payment, with electronic confirmation of payment from the bank * And more Major providers of I-COM software systems include Avanti, DMIS!, EFI, Kodak, MindFireInc, Objective Advantage, Pace2020, P3 Software, Press-sense. Printable. Printsoft, Prism, Responsive Solutions, Seefile, Xerox, XMPie, among others (please excuse this author if some providers were not included in this listing). For more information on any of these firms visit the individual web sites of each company, or check their Graph Expo listing. Scroll down to IX Business Systems; scroll down to wither "Business Computer Software" or "Software, Estimating, Plant Management", and then hit "Go." Many of these software offerings from the companies listed above are further detailed here. CSRs must learn and practice the art of explaining to customers and prospects how to make best use of the I-COM system and templates. Training Essential One of the key issues in any selection and implementation of I-COM software is the training of all parties impacted by a more automated Internet relationship between print and customer. This begins with the customer service representative. The job responsibilities and job description for CSRs expand to include: * Working with prepress staff to understand how I-COM will impact the flow of information just as PDF has changed how graphics and text are collected and exchanged. The capabilities of the software must be fully understood by the CSRs who, in training, should be required to act as a customer and practice entering all elements of a job that a customer is likely to use. This kind of "walk through" of possible customer Internet touch points is essential for CSRs' understanding of potential customer issues. * As the system is implemented, CSRs must carefully review all information arriving from customers to ensure it is complete. Especially in the early days of the installation while everyone is getting up to speed, it is critical that job details be confirmed to identify any problems and build staff and customer confidence in the system. This is time well invested because the objective of an I-COM system is reduction of the time spent on administrative and manual order-entry activities, and to allow CSRs to concentrate on difficult orders, problem situations, and demanding customers. * The CSRs must learn and practice the art of explaining to customers and prospects how to make best use of the I-COM system and templates. The objective here to enable CSRs to go into the field to teach customers how to best use the I-COM system and for the CSR to identify and resolve any potential difficulties. To fully incorporate I-COM into a print provider's operational DNA, training should also be spread throughout the print provider's organization. This can be one-on-one, in classroom settings or in webinar formats. * All sales people and sales executives must do the same three activities as CSRs. Sales people should be trained to conduct I-COM training, even if only with a select list of customers, as a means of encouraging use of the I-COM system. * Estimators, schedulers, production executives, and pre-press staff should complete at least basic training in the I-COM system. This should cover system objectives, uses, software demos, how customers will enter data, and how to point out any trouble spots or suggest improvements/enhancements to the system. This new environment can suddenly present very tangible benefits and the advantages of an I-COM system will be investigated in the next few weeks of OnDemand Journal. It will include: 1. Our next two articles will feature discussion from two of the leading providers of I-COM programs as to how they work and why they are important to a printing company. 2. An additional two part series featuring real world of experiences of printers implementing an I-COM system 3. Finally a seventh report detailing the major providers of I-COM solutions, what they provide and their position in the marketplace. Stay with us we review one of the major change agents in the printing industry



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