This article is sponsored by CoreBridge as part of WhatTheyThink's Print Software Product Spotlight series. In preparing this article, the WhatTheyThink Print Software Section editors conducted original, in-depth research on the company and product. This Product Spotlight describes what the editors feel are the company and product’s strengths in the marketplace. CoreBridge reviewed the final article for accuracy but had no editorial control over the content.
The software industry is moving in the direction of cloud based solutions (vendor provides all the IT infrastructure, all you require is internet access), that are multi-tenant (there is one version of the software running all customers), and a subscription business model (you pay monthly to use the software product vs. buying a license and paying annual maintenance).
Why is the entire software industry moving in this direction? Software is difficult and expensive to build and maintain while our business needs are constantly changing. A cloud based, multi-tenant software application is easier to maintain and upgrade than a customer hosted application.
Why is the licensing or owning software business model giving way to a monthly subscription business model? Software solutions have to constantly evolve; you can’t really “own” a software product because software is always moving. When you “buy” a software license you are getting access to the current version and then paying annual maintenance to keep taking upgrades from your vendor. The subscription model offers a more aligned partnership between the customers and the vendor, payment and value are exchanged in parallel.
CoreBridge is a cloud based, multi-tenant software solution whose business model is subscription based. Like pure technology startups, CoreBridge’s pricing model is easy to understand, available on their website, and allows you to start small and grow with CoreBridge through volume and/or functionality.
This product spotlight will focus on three areas of the CoreBridge Print MIS offering: the user experience/user interface, the costing model tools and implementation, and the customer portals. When you build a software application, you utilize the tools that are available at the time. We all have experience working with legacy software solutions that were built with tools that are no longer relevant or compatible with modern software systems. CoreBridge has built a Print MIS system based on modern technology tools and understanding of the current technology ecosystem; 100% web based software with the understanding that integration is an expectation not a luxury.
Print MIS systems typically don’t focus on user interface, the thought being this is not a customer facing solution so it doesn’t need a “designer” interface. Print MIS systems are the most utilized system in your shop; your people are literally spending hours in your Print MIS system every day. The user interface either frustrates them or compels them to adopt the solution. CoreBridge has invested a “consumer level” attention to their user interface, it is clean, polished, and simple. In fact when you first see it you might think, this can’t be a Print MIS. A clean and easy to understand user interface greatly decreases the learning curve of the users and increases user adoption. Training and user adoption are typically the greatest challenges to a successful Print MIS implementation. Nobody wants to use a confusing system that is hard to learn because it makes them feel insecure and vulnerable in their jobs.
Now more than ever, it is critical that printers have a very clear picture of their overall costs and specifically their costs down at the order level. This takes a strategic effort in setting up your Print MIS system. Too many printers are operating on systems they don’t fully trust; hence they default to intuition on decisions vs. making data-driven decisions from their trusted system of record. The CoreBridge product was designed by a former print and sign shop owner. You can tell the approach to creating the costing model was created by someone who actually solved the business problem, rather than a software developer who tried to understand the problem via software features and requirements documentation. CoreBridge patiently walks you through the setup of your costing model in a way that builds trust with you while you’re doing it. Costing that you don’t trust is a waste of your time. Costing that you trust will enable you to make data-driven decisions that will change your behavior, (e.g. focus on customers with higher margins) and therefore change your business results.
Customers want to engage with you online, not just buy products but engagement. For every channel you open up with your customers, you increase customer loyalty. How do you open up an online channel with every one of your customers? CoreBridge makes this easy; in even the base model of CoreBridge you can create a customer portal for every single one of your customers at no additional charge. A CoreBridge Customer Portal allows your customer to access and view their orders and estimates, approve estimates and proofs, and easily re-order. Online customer engagement can no longer be limited to those customers who have large catalogs of recurring products (more traditional web-to-print). CoreBridge’s Customer Portal allows you to create online engagement with all your customers without costly integration or additional fees.
All software requires effort on your part; a common mistake in software investments is buying software that you don’t have the resources or skill set to implement, use, and maintain. Buying the right software requires you to make an honest assessment of your staff and capabilities. For most small businesses the best bet is to invest in software that requires the least amount of technical expertise, IT infrastructure, and learning curve possible. Print is competitive, you are staffed lean, technical expertise is hard to find and retain – don’t buy a solution that relies on resources you don’t have or can’t afford to retain. The highlights of the CoreBridge Print MIS described in this article; user experience, costing model, and the customer portals all contribute to a solution that lowers the customer burden of adoption, implementation, and maintenance. Give yourself the best chance possible of utilizing software that enables you to become a data-driven organization while maintaining a lean staff that isn’t required to be technical experts. Overbuying isn’t just about picking the wrong technology, overbuying is picking a technology that you cannot properly implement, support, or maintain.
To learn more about WhatTheyThink.com’s Print Software Product Spotlights, please contact Jennifer Matt, Print Software Section Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.