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Perspectives from Outside Your Print Business

Getting outside perspectives into your print business is important, especially when implementing a Print MIS or other print software. You want people who see a wide variety of print businesses to weigh in on best practices.

By Jennifer Matt
Published: September 18, 2019

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Jennifer Matt is the managing editor of WhatTheyThink’s Print Software section as well as President of Web2Print Experts, Inc. a technology-independent print software consulting firm helping printers with web-to-print and print MIS solutions. You can reach her at jen@whattheythink.com.

 

Discussion

By Gina Danner on Sep 18, 2019

Great perspective Jennifer. One of the key reasons to grow a company is that it requires new people and new opportunities.

You are dead on related to the multitude of business decisions to be made in a print MIS system launch. It is also important that the organization realize that an implementation will take 6-12 plus months after launch before things might start to be easy and you realize the total value of the implementation.

 

By Jennifer Matt on Sep 18, 2019

Gina,

Thanks for saying the 6-12 months point (not a popular timeframe) as printers spend a lot of money on a new Print MIS, then a lot of money implementing it, then they have to wait for another few months to really feel relief. Patience is hard.

Jen

 

By robert godwin on Sep 20, 2019

Jen,

Not only is the 6-12 months’ time frame realistic, but so many print companies never use their MIS to its full effect. Two key causes I have witnessed are 1. The MIS was 'bundled' into an equipment sale as added value, and 2. When the MIS was bought it was all too often selected to solve a specific problem and not recognized as an enterprise solution.

As for #1, when a technology solution is used as an ornament for an equipment sale, the purchaser often has no idea of the implementation and ongoing support costs. Those value discussions center on the big-ticket piece of equipment. If they were fully aware of the tech support required and consultative guidance needed, they would likely not see it as added value to the equipment. MIS is a separate consideration and, if implemented properly, a comprehensive business change. Not the stuff the print culture is normally able to appreciate (as you cite on your article).

#2 MIS systems do many, many things. They are a comprehensive solution for an enterprise. So many printers chose a system to solve a narrow issue: estimating; W2P; inventory; trafficking; etc.. While many if not most of the MIS solutions out there are solid and robust, few are fully utilized. That is the core issue when it comes to allocating the appropriate budget to implement and maintain. IT issues do not feel like printing. They are managed by people that are different than printers (oh c'mon, we've all had those stunning conversations with IT...). The culture clash, as I see it, is the biggest challenge for printers to deal with when it comes to technology integration. This inability left them standing on the sidelines when digital marketing ran off with the budget.

You resisted saying what consultants contribute to wise business decisions. No business owner knows everything. As you point out, many print businesses become insular. No new blood, no new ideas. That is what a consultant can provide: exposure to new ideas, directions, solutions. A good consultant would point out the Total Cost of Ownership of an MIS system, what is required to have it deliver the best results and value. Often, all too often, a salesperson will elide those issues to close the deal. Caveat emptor.

 

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