Special Feature

From MIS, JDF, CIP3 to I-COM (Part 5)

By Terry Nagi

June 26 , 2007 -- In our past four articles (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), we have examined the advantages and reasoning for moving beyond a Web-to-Print system, to a full-blown I-COM (Internet Customer Order Management) system.  Web-to-Print is appropriate for printers offering digital printing.  I-COM is appropriate now (and will be a requirement for customers in the near future) for all printers.  In this article, and the next two articles following, we examine in summary form the features of the major providers of I-COM systems (some of whom also offer an MIS system).  The objective is to provide a more learned response from the companies that actually provide MIS and/or I-COM solutions.  This article features the responses to several key questions regarding the implementation of an I-COM system, in an interview with Ms. Kristy Mills, Marketing Coordinator, DiMS! organizing print.

To preface the interview, here's an overview of DiMS! I-COM Features and Benefits:

  • End-to-end integration - DiMS! covers the full range of print production and related MIS needs, including estimating, planning and scheduling, pre-press and  production, shipping, invoicing and financials.
  • Web-enabled - A single system, accessible over the Web anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
  • Multi-plant solution - Integrates processes internally and across the entire enterprise.
  • One-time input of data - Customer, job, and all material information is only entered once, dramatically decreasing the chance for error.
  • Multi-currency and multi-language capabilities - A truly global ERP solution enabling clear communication of data across every location.
  • Business templates to match the business - Product-focused templates significantly decrease set-up times, allowing for greater efficiency while minimizing rollout times.
  • Integrated with Microsoft Office products such as Word and Excel - Exports data and management reports to programs most users are already familiar with, thereby saving training costs.
  • Integrating prepress to press - Given that prepress is integrated to press, delivery times decrease dramatically.
  • Real-time data collection - Always have up-to-date tracking data, which makes it possible to act quickly and accurately in the event of production problems.
  • Valuable reporting capabilities - Solid management reporting allows ease when making strategic decisions.
  • Easy to learn and use
  • Prepared for interfacing - Built on an open architecture, DiMS! is JDF-compliant and bridges the communication gap between prepress, production and post-press through the use of standard XML language. Thus, users can be assured of integration with new and existing systems.
  • Optimized supply chain management - Enables cost effective stock control, decreasing paper, raw materials and finished goods inventory and eliminating costly waste.

TN: So Kristy, what do you see as the prime benefits of implementation of a complete MIS solution?

KM:  The implementation of a complete MIS solution in the printing industry is beneficial in many ways, including providing a steady revenue stream, eliminating redundant entry of job information in multiple software programs thus decreasing the chance for mistakes, reducing time and effort in moving jobs into production, providing job information in a timely, accurate and useable manner to all key players involved including operations, management and the customer, minimizing labor costs in operation and most importantly increasing profits & productivity.  

TN: What comprises a complete system? 

KM : A complete MIS system, such as DiMS!, covers all the required functionality options within one software package to integrate the complete range of business processes. From estimation to planning, prepress to productions, inventory management to shipping and invoicing. DiMS! also provides real-time job tracking, shop floor data control, inventory management, costing and invoicing to name a few. DiMS! has distinct modules for each step in the business process, they all comprise a single, totally integrated software package. Since every process component is included in DiMS!, a selection of required modules can be assigned to each functional department within a company. For instance, the Sales, Planning, Project Management and Financial departments would all use different modules. However, all of the data is automatically linked across the entire integrated system, resulting in a maximum communication across the organization.

TN: Where does your system fit in, and what can it do for the printer?

KM: DiMS! contains all the functionality in a single software package to fully cover the complete range of administrative and printing processes. Eliminating the need to integrate multiple servers or employ add-ons, DiMS! streamlines and automates key business processes across the enterprise, from end to end. By allowing printers to harness valuable information on a centralized, Web-enabled database, DiMS! provides the ability to link internal information systems, instantaneously track production data and measure results, and integrate operations with key clients and suppliers. 

TN: Can you direct me to a printer whom I can contact for their experience with your system? 

KM: Sure. Here are some links to some case studies that demonstrate how customers are using DiMS! in their companies.



TN: What are the steps a printer should use to decide which and the extent of the MIS system they should purchase?

KM: We see five steps print providers should take in determining the type and scope of a MIS system:

  1. Set clearly defined goals of what want to be accomplished from a MIS system
  2. Request information from MIS suppliers that understand your area of business in relation to size and printed products
  3. Set up high-level meetings with selected vendors and determine where needs and demands are best bet
  4. Participation in more in-depth meetings and workshops with one or two preferred suppliers
  5. Make final decision based on outcome of meetings  

TN: What training would you recommend, to which responsibilities, in a printing company?  

KM: Proper training is provided for all users and management involved in the project by DiMS!’s Education and Implementation Consultants. We have a 5 step implementation model, but even after the steps are complete the implementation team continues to advise and assist its customers to ensure a smooth transition. DiMS! is integrated with Microsoft Office products such as Word and Excel. Users export data and management reports to programs they are already familiar with which lowers training costs and helps speed up the learning process.

TN: What training would you recommend for customers, and how does a printer do this?

KM: We have five steps for this, too.

  • During the Project Initiation stage clear expectations of the project are reached, such as time scales, scope and resources.
  • Next in the Systems Definition stage, the broad range of business cases within a company are reviewed, analyzed and modeled within the system.
  • A virtual demo is then conducted in the Perfect Printer Workshop stage to demonstrate the end-to-end process and tangible results
  • In the System Configuration stage, real life configuration of the system is completed and users are extensively trained in a test environment
  • Finally in the Roll Out stage the implementation in the production environment is established, thus providing a quick return on investment.

Stay with us while we continue reviewing one of the major change agents in the printing industry.

In case you missed them, the previous four articles in this series are available on ODJ:

From MIS, JDF and CIP3 to I-COM (Part 1)

From MIS to I-COM (Part 2)

From MIS, JDF, CIP3 to I-COM (Part 3)

From MIS, JDF, CIP3 to I-COM (Part 4)

Please offer your feedback to Terry. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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Terry A. Nagi, President of Terry A. Nagi & Associates, a 27 year consulting organization which specializes in the integration of digital printing, data base development and management, integration of fulfillment and mailing, creation of customer focused and friendly I-COM solutions to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of customer focused print employees, and he development of training workshops for a printers? customers to successful utilize an I-COM system.