This article is sponsored by Sabre Limited a Microsoft Integration Partner who sells and implements the Print MIS PrintVis 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 Sabre Limited and PrintVis. This Product Spotlight describes what the editors feel are the product’s strengths in the marketplace. Sabre Limited reviewed the final article for accuracy but had no editorial control over the content.
The print industry is dominated by print-specific Print MIS/ERP solutions. These solutions are sold by vendors who specialize in the unique challenges of the custom manufacturing process of print. Businesses in other industries can select their ERP solutions from a larger set of offerings because their business challenges can be solved by a generic solution. The PrintVis Print MIS offering is a “print-specific” app (addon) to a globally recognized ERP solution from Microsoft now called Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (formerly Dynamics NAV). So PrintVis is giving printers access to a globally recognized ERP by solving the print-specific challenges on top of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.
This is an interesting business model, rather than building an entire ERP solution from scratch, PrintVis built what makes “print unique” on top of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. So PrintVis only had to build the print-specific features of their Print MIS because they “borrow” all the other features of an ERP from Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. I think a Print MIS is about 25% print and 75% generic ERP.
The Microsoft ecosystem also handles implementation differently. Unlike the print industry where Print MIS vendors implement their own solutions, the Microsoft model is to have integration partners who handle the services, allowing Microsoft to focus on the software. Sabre Limited is a Microsoft partner who implements Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and the PrintVis App. In reviewing both Sabre Limited as an implementation partner and PrintVis as a Print MIS, I found quite a few strengths worth talking about. I will start with the entire Microsoft software ecosystem as a clear strength.
The software is all cloud based, provisioning is seamless, and they’ve adopted the user-based business model that Salesforce invented (or at least that’s who I remember inventing it). You pay for utilizing the software by the number of users per month; that’s the whole business model. Can you see how this makes the solution able to “flex” down to smaller printers and up to very large ones? The limitations are really in the sophistication of the users. Really small companies don’t require the overhead of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central but once you get above that threshold the user-based subscription licensing provides a great deal of price flexibility across a large range of companies.
Why do I consider the Microsoft software ecosystem a strength? Popular software platforms get invested in, continue to evolve, and benefit from usage at scale because the vendor is making money and getting lots of feature ideas for improvement. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is being used globally by more than 120,000 companies. This deployment scale far exceeds any specific vendor in the print-industry because Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central serves companies across lots of different industries.
Microsoft tools are present in some form in virtually every business on the planet. The Microsoft ecosystem means that the PrintVis App sitting on top of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central comes fully integrated into Outlook for email, Word for customizing reports, and Excel for importing and exporting data. It is a very deep integration, for example Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central can interrogate your emails (using artificial intelligence) and guess what estimate the customer is referring to and then provide suggested next actions without having to toggle back and forth between email and your ERP. It makes complete sense that Microsoft would reward you for being loyal to Microsoft throughout your business technology stack.
Print MIS/ERP implementations are no fun. I think everyone agrees with that statement. As a Microsoft partner, Sabre Limited has full flexibility in how they go-to-market with their implementation of both Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and PrintVis. This is where I find the next strength. Sabre Limited has a fixed fee implementation model. This is unique in the industry. Most vendors would say the implementation package needs to be modeled to meet the unique needs of every organization. I find the most powerful part of this idea is that it better aligns customer and service providers. The goal is to get your organization implemented successfully; it is not to consume as many services hours as possible as quickly as possible. A fixed fee implementation can enable the services provider to hold the printer accountable and for the integrator to figure out how to optimize their implementation to get a return on investment as efficiently as possible.
The next strength I want to discuss about the PrintVis/Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offering is the existence of additional Addons for your ERP. Your ERP/Print MIS is your system of record for your business. When printers have an excellent implementation of their ERP, they often outrun the vendor, meaning they want new features faster than the vendor can provide. In the Microsoft ecosystem, they borrowed another good idea from their competitors at Apple and created the ecosystem to build Addons (app store). So, you want to implement EDI with one of your customers; you don’t have to wait for PrintVis to build it, you can buy the addon in the App store. In my cursory search, I found more than 1,500 addons for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. The integrators like Sabre Limited can also build custom addons that will follow the necessary protocols to keep you on the upgrade path for both Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and PrintVis.
The final strength I want to point out for the PrintVis Print MIS is their specific features around quoting. I have always said quoting is a race. A huge percentage of competitive quoting goes to the supplier who gets their quote in fastest. In PrintVis there is a feature set called Quick Quote. You can build out Quick Quotes in a manner that allows your salespeople to do a portion of their quoting themselves. This is not price-list based quoting, it’s quoting that is still based on current cost factors but its setup in a manner that allows sales to execute on their own. In speaking with a current PrintVis printer, after a lot of dedicated work towards this goal, their sales team is now doing more than 25% of their own quoting. This is a game-changer for the whole organization.
When shopping for software; we often get stuck down in the weeds of very specific features. In this product spotlight, it's easy to see that you’re buying into so much more than a feature set when you buy a Print MIS/ERP solution. In the Microsoft ecosystem you are picking an integration partner (Sabre Limited), an ERP solution (Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central), and a print specific application (PrintVis) and they all operate within an ecosystem that keeps evolving. Your business has to continue to evolve in order to remain relevant. As we evolve, it's important that the tools we select can continue to evolve with us.