Editor's note: This article is sponsored by EPMS 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 the company and product. This Product Spotlight describes what the editors feel are the company and product’s strengths in the marketplace. EPMS reviewed the final article for accuracy but had no editorial control over the content.
Choosing a Print MIS solution marks the beginning of a long-term relationship. Like a marriage, you want your Print MIS to be compatible with your business today while being able to flex and evolve with your business in the future. The most successful implementations are true marriages between your business and the Print MIS system where the system runs the company and your people run the system.
A “good fit” for a print business and a Print MIS technology is generally based on the following factors: print business size, print manufacturing processes, integration requirements, customization requirements, hosting preferences, skilled resources required, and of course costs. Selecting a Print MIS partner requires you to understand how your business works today and what your vision is for the future of your business. This will enable you to make the optimal long-term choice and avoid the need to transition Print MIS platforms.
This product spotlight will focus on three areas of the EPMS offering: the continuous expansion of Print MIS direct users, the support for an industry that is aggressively diversifying, and the ability to make EPMS work uniquely for your business through customization and integration.
As we become more data-driven internally while using data to differentiate our business externally, our Print MIS plays an increasing role in all our business interactions. We are also seeing an expanding number of users who have direct access into Print MIS systems which extends the value of the Print MIS investment to a growing audience.
Like all Print MIS systems, EPMS provides benefits for all aspects of the internal print business, from order entry to invoice. Following the trend of expanding the role of the Print MIS internally and externally, EPMS enables the sales function to not only submit initial inquiries into the system, but to also take on a more in-depth role when simple orders can be easily specified and quoted via a price list. This allows the sales team to engage with the Print MIS system in a very simple yet powerful way. EPMS is expanding the access and tools for the print sales team by creating mobile applications that will facilitate these interactions on the tools that salespeople use most often.
In addition to sales access, EPMS has opened direct access to customers and vendors so they can interact with the system. Customers can now submit their own inquiries and potentially build their own specifications using a wizard. This is an important move for all printers as it transitions customers out of e-mail and into a system that you can be monitored and measured. EPMS, through the use of wizards, helps printers to put structure and meaning around the customers’ requests. The end result is a much faster cycle time between initial request and order conversion. When printers have 3-4 touches via e-mail, phone, and fax before the order hits your production, you are starting the job with an unmeasured labor deficit. By opening up more ways for the customer to interact with the EPMS’ solution directly, you can reduce labor while bringing those interactions into your system of record. EPMS also grants your outside vendors direct access into the system from a purchasing and inventory management perspective so they are interacting with you in a manner that can be monitored and managed.
Your Print MIS is your system of record. A critical way to increase its return-on-investment is to expand the amount of users in your business process that have access to it. EPMS continues to build on this trend of allowing a secure, filtered view of the relevant areas for the growing number of stakeholders that participate in your print business.
Diversification is a common theme running through the print industry. Traditional offset printers are expanding into digital while copy shops are expanding into signs and banners. You want to extend your products and services to digital communication methods while at the same time expanding the range of your printed products. This diversification can be tricky, however, as challenges occur when printers evolve their business in a direction that their current Print MIS won’t support. There are so many printers today operating silos of their business outside their primary Print MIS system.
One of the things we like about EPMS is its support for a diverse set of print manufacturing processes and products. EPMS is a single system that supports sheet-fed offset, digital, flexo, web, super-wide format, screen printers, forms printers, and specialty printers. When you diversify your business by introducing another print manufacturing process, you can still count on EPMS as your one system of record. In addition to diversification in manufacturing, the industry is experiencing an increase in consolidation. EPMS supports single use, multi-plant, or multi-company setups. You can either keep the acquisition separate for a time period or you can keep a plant around until the lease expires. Either of these can be accomplished within EPMS so you continue to grow your business without the disruption of having to change Print MIS systems or operate portions of your business outside your Print MIS system. EPMS strives to make it easy for a printer to scale up and down within the technology.
Your implementation is unique to you and your business and its constantly changing. Sometimes the way the technology was built does not support the way you run the business. This requires customization. EPMS has a very customer-centric approach to customization, assessing all customizations in a democratic fashion with their user community. When customization requests make sense for the overall product improvement, they fold them into the product as part of continuing maintenance and development. EPMS estimates that 80% of their customization requests get done as part of their overall product development with no additional cost to the customer who made the request.
In regards to the other 20%, where customization is unique to the customer, EPMS offers solutions on a more one-off fashion for an additional fee. Customers can also do their own customizations, with EPMS allowing direct access to the database of their product for customers who have skilled technical people. This creates an incredible opportunity to extend the EPMS platform to fit your unique needs. For the most part, we recommend that customers look at changing their processes first, rather than trying to change the software to fit their processes. However, there are cases when it makes sense to alter the software to fit your specific needs. In these cases, direct database access can be a real advantage as long as your team knows what they are doing.
Virtually every printer operates in a multi-vendor workflow environment. From order entry to invoice, your workflow passes through many different technologies made by many different companies. End-to-end workflow that doesn’t rely on human interaction requires integration. EPMS is open to integration with anyone. They have established integrations with many web-to-print systems, accounting systems, and production workflow systems. EPMS’ open API comes standard with the product. One of the reasons EPMS is well-suited for integration is that each of their four major product launches over the last 25 years have been complete rewrites of the system. This clean-slate thinking keeps your product from being stuck in old architectural dead ends. The steady company ownership and the tenure of the employees reflect a team of people with full context over the entire product history.
From our perspective, the spotlight shines on the EPMS product and company in three areas: expansion of the utilization of your Print MIS by a wider audience of users, the ability to diversify your print business, and their approach to making your Print MIS uniquely yours and completely scalable through customization and integration.
To learn more about WhatTheyThink.com’s Print Software Product Spotlights, please contact Jennifer Matt, Print Software Section Editor at [email protected]