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The Software Technology Stack of Your Print Business

Published on March 16, 2017

our print software is as important as your print manufacturing equipment. Software enables you to get to new customers and automate your workflows to enable you to do more with less effort. Software is becoming your most strategic resource.

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Discussion

By Gina Danner on Mar 16, 2017

Jen, I think you are correct in your premise -- printers still aren't focused on a solid technology strategy. The challenge I see is that owners understand how to invest in equipment, they understand run rates, hourly rates, and waste rates. The challenge with the technology stack for the printing industry is that there are really very few systems that work together, are designed to integrate effectively or that do what is needed for those of us on the leading edge.

Those of us who can "figure it out" have a distinct advantage, but it still takes vision to get there. I don't know about my peers in the industry, but I don't have a blank check for technology. It takes a lot to get comfortable with the "money sucking black hole of R&D" in the technology aspect of our industry.

Add to that the very limited way that we view technology staff and the way some technology pieces are sold -- aka bundled in with equipment -- we do have a huge learning curve.

Alas, if it was easy, everyone would do it.

 

By Jennifer Matt on Mar 17, 2017

Gina,

It is a learning curve, there are no perfect solutions (but there are no perfect presses either).

Here's something interesting. When a printer buys a press they don't request the press company if they can make it just a little smaller ;-) or have it come in a different shape so it fits into their floor plan a little better. We laugh at this (I hope) b/c its ridiculous - 1 $500,000 press can't be changed in shape or size after its come off the manufacturing line!

Yet, I see it every day in software. An ERP/Print MIS solution that has been under development for more than a decade (very complex). Printers ask for changes all the time to make the ERP solution fit their business better. Software is expensive to change.

One of the best ways to have more success with software is to look carefully at what is easier to change (your business process / workflow or the software?) In almost every case, it is easier to be flexible with your workflow, yet I've seen million dollar investments thrown out of places b/c the software didn't fully fit their needs.

Our industry can't afford that kind of waste.

Jen

 

By Gina Danner on Mar 17, 2017

Where to start. The biggest challenge for anyone is "Yes, we can do that." and so many start up software companies say that. The larger companies aren't very good at selling the owners on "why they need to change processes".

As an owner, I don't have the energy to change ERP systems. It is a tipping point for many and there is research that points to the change in ERP/CRM being a critical growth point. I always go back to a set of data points...
96% of all businesses are under $1MM in revenue - they exist based on how hard the owner works.
.4% of all businesses are over $10MM in revenue - they have put in some additional leadership beyond the ownership.
To get over $25MM in revenue and beyond one of the key items is ERP/CRM systems and being able to see the entire business in real time at a glance.

Right now sitting where we are, the thought of a new ERP investment literally makes me want to vomit. The energy required to get the entire organization to change EVERYTHING is enormous. That is one of the things that limits printers from going digital - even digital print.

Alas, or industry must change and so much each leader within it.

 

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