Editions   North America | Europe | Magazine


Premium Commentary & Analysis

Pattern Recognition as a Path to Print Business Efficiency

Your print business is rich with patterns. By looking at patterns we can find ways to codify those patterns into processes that make us more efficient. You need real human processing for your business—free this up by taking the recurring stuff off their plates.


Our mission is to provide cogent commentary and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing industry. Support our mission and read articles like this with a Premium Membership.


About Jennifer Matt

Jennifer Matt is the managing editor of WhatTheyThink’s Print Software section as well as President of Web2Print Experts, Inc. a technology-independent print software consulting firm helping printers with web-to-print and print MIS solutions.


By Brian Shipe on Apr 17, 2019

"You look at the data and realize that you estimate certain product types over and over with only slight variations."

Can you give a few examples of the Product Characteristics that make sense to look at from a "grouping" perspective?
# of Forms
Pages Per Signature
Sides Printed
Finishing Process Steps (Cut, Fold, ETC)
# of Parts Per Product
OV Services needed

I've got a list of 20,000 Estimates from the past 5 Years. Where should I start?


By Wayne Lynn on Apr 17, 2019

Jennifer, pattern recognition is a right brain function. It may be the first cousin to intuition. Seeing the big picture requires intuition. Many people, in the daily rat race, don't stop and look at the big picture long enough to see the patterns. You have to get out of the weeds. Keep preaching, you are 100% correct!


By Jennifer Matt on Apr 22, 2019


What you're looking for is "product templates" which means a recipe of manufacturing. For example; a poster that is printed and finished in a certain way. When you go to estimate this product in the future, you will start with this "template" (think of it as a head start). This means that for a good portion of your work, you would never start from a blank slate. You would start with pre-built products which then can be customized for the specific quote.

I like to think about it as lego blocks. If you start everything in your business from scratch, you are wasting precious, expensive, human brain power on repetitive tasks that could be encoded into "templates" or processes so that the human brain can be freed up to work on critical thinking tasks.

An optimized estimating department is constantly iterating on their product templates so that each and every estimate can be an assembly of pre-built lego figurines instead of generic blocks. The estimate is a zoo, the product templates are little lego animals. When you need to estimate 6 products, you drag the 6 little animals into the estimate and then you make a few changes - cutting the time down by a lot. Greatly reducing your surface area for errors.

Might have gone done a little bit of a weird analogy with the legos, zoo, and animals ;-) Basically you want to create pre-made estimate parts that you can quickly assemble.




Join the discussion Sign In or Become a Member, doing so is simple and free