Commentary & Analysis
Printers 5 Top Challenges with Print Software
Software is mission critical to your business, like other infrastructure investments it takes time and effort to make the best decisions, plan to get the most ROI, and continue to build differentiation in the marketplace. Optimizing your print software investments comes with challenges which every printer faces in order to compete in an increasingly online, digital world.
By Jennifer Matt
Published: June 24, 2015
Failure to See Print Software as a Critical Infrastructure Investment
When print was king, all you had to do was keep investing in new production equipment and have good customer service. Now that print has some serious digital alternatives to communication, the landscape has changed. Print software in all its forms (web-to-print, Print MIS, pre-press tools, production automation, CMS, CRM, etc.) is now part of your infrastructure spend. You can’t produce print without a building and presses; you can’t successfully compete in the modern economy without a solid software infrastructure. Your investment and implementation of print software has tremendous influence on your overall business success. Nothing about software is “nice to have” anymore, it is as important as your print production equipment. Successful printers are studying software, becoming experts in the same way they studied presses.
Still Believe Print Manufacturing is Your Differentiator
The print manufacturing process has evolved to the point that many competitors can create similar quality. The differentiation is not in your printed piece, it’s in how you sell, how you go-to-market, and how you solve customer challenges leveraging software technology.
Refusal to See that Print Software is Required to Reach Customers
Customers want convenience. This goes beyond self-service into embedding the offer for print inside the customer’s business process. We have been printing business cards for a long time; the evolution of the business card is more about how the customer buys it and less about how it’s manufactured. This evolution is enabled by software and human resources in your organization that have the technical skills to embed the offer for print in the customer’s business process.
Lack of Internal Print Software Expertise
We would never run our print business without a press operator, yet many print businesses are currently operated without any technical resources (internal or external). Software is something you have to invest in both in purchasing and having the resources to properly care and feed it.
No matter what the technology vendors say, print software takes labor to manage, maintain, and continually evolve with your business.
Buying Software is the Easy Part
Most print software is purchased and then only partially implemented. The reasons are diverse, the frustrations are high, and the finger pointing is extensive. The purchase of software doesn’t solve any of your challenges. Proper implementation of software to fit the unique needs of your business is where all the ROI happens. Print software implementation is often left to the vendors; they know only one side of the equation (their software). A successful implementation requires two sides coming together 1) knowledge of your business, 2) knowledge of the print software solution. This requires at least two parties; you and your vendor. My biggest frustration is that most print software vendors focus on training during the implementation phase instead of doing. Most software implementations take a tremendous one-time effort to implement, why do you spend so much time training me how to do something that I’ll do exactly once? Why not just do it for me and teach me how to edit, maintain, customize, and iterate after the software is up and running? A massive dose of training upfront is usually wasted because it is focused on a very small resource pool (sometimes a single person) and nobody can retain that much knowledge in a short period of time.
Get the software implemented then teach me how to drive it once it’s running. I don’t want to know how to build the car (some Print MIS installations feel this complicated); I just want to be able to drive it.