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Optimizing Print On-Demand Workflows

Published on October 20, 2011

PTI's Director of Professional Services Shabnam Behzadpour tells Cary Sherburne what printers should look into in order to optimize their print on-demand worflows.

Cary Sherburne:  Hi, I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with Shabnam Behzadpour who’s the Director of Professional Services for PTI Marketing Technologies, formerly known as Printable.  Welcome.

Shabnam Behzadpour:  Thank you.  Good morning.

Cary Sherburne:  So I’m sure in your professional services role, you’re dealing with customers all the time and as you know the industry’s been a little bit slow to adopt some of these technologies especially the customer facing web technologies.  Maybe you can tell us a little bit about why it’s important to have the web facing technologies and then what happens when it gets into your shop and how do you, you know, why should they worry about that?  Why should they worry about the integration?

Shabnam Behzadpour:  I think it’s important to have a solid web to print portal and customer facing application because I believe an organization kind of offer it as an extension of their service that they offer to their client.  Not only does it provide a stickiness once it gets going but it really allows an organization to reach out to their customers users in a way that they may not be able to through traditional means of procuring print and materials and things of that nature.  It also provides the organization with an ability to not only provide that customer service be an extension of support but also make more efficient their workflows and how they provide their clients with the products with the ordering and acquiring.  It’s really important for a web-to-print portal not only to have a very powerful customer facing side which is the portal itself but to have it backed that helps to promote efficiency within their shop; being able to connect to other systems such as fulfillment applications, accounting applications, shipping applications and inventory applications.  So having an application that’s open and that knows how to communicate, can communicate and makes that communication easy I think is really important.

Cary Sherburne:  Yeah you know because when you think about the printer’s customers, they’re shopping online all the time.  They’re used to 24/7 access and so, you know, I hear printers say well my customers aren’t asking me for that and my answer to that is I don’t go to McDonalds for Chinese food, right?  I mean if you don’t tell them that you have it, if you don’t educate them that you have these capabilities, they’re not going to ask you for it.  They’re going to ask someone else.  

Shabnam Behzadpour:  Exactly, exactly.  So I think promoting that, taking that first step is really critical.  And a lot of times these customers don’t even know that it exists.  Or there’s certain small group of them, they’re talking about it but they don’t really know where to take that.  So it’s really critical for that provider to make that first step and make the approach.

Cary Sherburne:  And then you have the whole backend problem which is if you’re getting a lot more jobs in, a lot smaller lower cost jobs coming in, you can’t handle those manually.  You can’t afford it.

Shabnam Behzadpour:  I mean honestly the last thing print service provider wants is another system, another user id and password, another thing to learn.  So by allowing the application to be incorporated with something that they already use today, and order management solution they already use, you’re already providing those efficiencies right out of the gate.

Cary Sherburne:  And so taking all the touches you can out of the process and a lot of times it is almost lights out.

Shabnam Behzadpour:  Yeah, it can be.  

Cary Sherburne:  Yeah.

Shabnam Behzadpour:  And it shouldn’t be that difficult really.

Cary Sherburne: And so from a professional services prospective, what are the kinds of services at PTI that you find yourself really spending most of your time on?  What is it that you’re doing most of the time?

Shabnam Behzadpour:  Well mostly it’s just talking to our customers and trying to figure out where they pain points are and almost starting out with what’s your dream goal.  Like where do you see this going?  And if you could sit down and talk to me for five minutes and tell me how you wish this could work, let’s jot that all down and then let’s see how close we get to that.  And so really just a lot times it’s drawing out workflow diagrams.  What existing applications do you have?  How often do you use them?  Another good one I like to use is how often do you pick up a pen or pencil and what are you writing down.  

Cary Sherburne: That’s great.  That’s a great lesson.

Shabnam Behzadpour:  If you’re writing something down it means it’s getting lost in that translation somewhere.  And so how can you get rid of that?  How can we make it such that you’re not picking up the pen?  You’re not necessarily writing some number down here because you need to type it in somewhere else.  We want to get rid of that.

Cary Sherburne: You know you bring up a very good point that I think a lot of people miss when they’re thinking about getting some kind of a portal solution, something like that.  The first place you have to start is what am I doing today?  You know I used to say, you know, just pin a job ticket to your tie and have it take you through the shop and you’ll see where all the pain points are, where all the bottlenecks are and you have to understand that first before you do anything else.  

Shabnam Behzadpour:  Absolutely.  Absolutely. Walking around a customer’s shop is enlightening and it’s like the best thing often because you get to see what they’re doing.  And a lot of times by asking them to take you through or to even talk you through it they go, oh wait a minute.  Why do I do that?  Why do we still do that, you know.  So it’s a really powerful practice.

Cary Sherburne:  Plus I also think that as an outside observer coming in you’ll see things that they, like you said, they don’t even realize that they’re…

Shabnam Behzadpour:  Fresh eyes.

Cary Sherburne:  …doing it; fresh eyes.  Well that’s great.  I think you’re in a really enviable position right now in your career because printers are really finally starting to understand I have to do something and so you get to go in and help them and that’s a lot of fun.

Shabnam Behzadpour:  It’s a lot of fun.  I hear it all the time and it makes me feel good because typically the results are really positive and really powerful and you feel like you’ve made a difference.

Cary Sherburne:  Great well thank you very much.

Shabnam Behzadpour:  Thank you.

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