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Articles by 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.

Displaying 1-99 of 489 articles

Utilizing CRM Tools to Sell Print

Published April 19, 2023

A CRM tool needs to deliver value to your sales team in the form of time savings or differentiation in how fast they can get quotes out to their customers.

Manual Steps are Piling Up in Customer Service

Published March 29, 2023

When the power dynamic is uneven across the functional areas of your print business, more powerful areas (production and sales) tend to shift manual steps to the less powerful areas (customer service).

Stepping Over Dollars to Pick Up Pennies

Published March 15, 2023

We tend to discount the time of our full-time employees because we are paying for it already—looking at them like sunk costs. So, when we ask them to do things that are non-value add (aka a complete waste of their time), we don’t see it as a cost. Well, it has real costs.

Deciding What’s Important

Published March 1, 2023

In a print plant, it is easy to come to work and fall into the drama of getting jobs out the door. There is always something you can focus on in your day-to-day work life. The art of moving your business forward happens when you direct your focus to areas of your business that you can impact the most.

This Plant Wouldn’t Run Without Me

Published February 15, 2023

In conversations with a label converter recently, the General Manager told me that more than once in the last few years key employees had voiced the core belief that “this plant wouldn’t run without me.” Now, you can take this statement a lot of different ways. My initial reaction is concern for the business because the employee that says this is both likely a key player and potentially a risk.

The Labor Challenge of Print Software Expertise

Published February 1, 2023

Printers are complaining of the lack of qualified candidates and a higher-than-expected amount of turnover. While this section of WhatTheyThink is titled Software, the focus is often more on people than software. After all, people are what make your software investments' ROI. Software is simply potential.

Buying a Print MIS/ERP is an Event, ROI is a Journey

Published January 18, 2023

A Print MIS/ERP purchase is an event; the journey is where actual differentiation takes place. 

Standardized vs. Tailored Implementation Services

Published January 4, 2023

Optimization efforts can often result in generalized approaches that miss the mark of delivering what each customer needs, when they need it, based on their specific business needs.

Multiple Best of Breed Software Systems

Published December 14, 2022

More software systems create more complexity, which creates more overhead in your business. Choose wisely based on the realistic and mandatory feature sets required to run your business.

Knowing the Most vs. Willing to Learn the Most

Published December 7, 2022

A willingness to learn can be greatly enhanced by creating a safe environment for mistakes to happen. Documented processes are a tool that removes shame and blame from work mistakes and helps the organization get better.

Asking Your Employees About Their Challenges

Published November 30, 2022

Diving into your business to mine ROI out of your processes is best done with your ears and your eyes. Observe and listen to how the processes are being managed today, then step back and choose the challenges that return the most ROI for your business.

When Solutions Cause More Problems

Published November 16, 2022

Solving challenges in your print business that involve your software solutions can be tricky because your team has a strong bias to how you are currently working and generally no experience of how other companies are utilizing the software.

The Reality of SaaS & the Delusion of Software Ownership

Published November 9, 2022

You can’t buy software like a press. It must keep moving with the technology infrastructure, the market, and your business. SaaS is a subscription model that better matches the reality of the way you need software to keep evolving.

Gaining Alignment: Slowing Down to Speed Up

Published November 2, 2022

Issues arise whenever you’re trying to work with a team. Do you have a safe and consistent method for identifying issues and processing them so that your business can stay in alignment?

Diversified Sales Channels (B2B vs. B2C)

Published October 26, 2022

The print industry has focused on diversification on the production floor (e.g., digital, offset, oversized, flexo, web, etc.). It’s time to look at diversification in your sales channels—how you get new customers.

New Software Tools: Gateway to Business Transformation

Published October 19, 2022

Transforming your business can happen incrementally by looking at the daily workflows you execute on and finding areas of improvement. New software tools are a great time to transform your workflows.

Integrated Workflows Crossing Multiple Vendors

Published October 12, 2022

The building of integrated workflows continues to get more complex and require more, not less, vendors. Your decision-making approach must be balanced between solving specific needs and integration up and downstream.

Three Audiences, One Objective “Change”

Published October 5, 2022

Change can be difficult. You can make it a little easier by dividing up the constituents and hearing from their unique perspectives, basically giving them the airtime they deserve.

Sales-Driven Change

Published September 28, 2022

You have change agents: they are your sales team. A group of people who are selling change every day. Use that team to help sell internal change whenever possible.

Changing Your Customer’s Behavior

Published September 21, 2022

Your customers require selling even after they are customers. The selling comes in the form of encouraging them to engage with you in a way that is both convenient for them and improves the outcomes of your workflows.

The Liberation that Comes from Implementing Process

Published September 14, 2022

Process or workflow documentation sounds like something only for very large bureaucratic corporations. This is not true. The smallest companies can benefit from process improvement. Your business is a series of processes that are repeated over and over.

Your Building Foundation vs. Your Software/Digital Foundation

Published September 7, 2022

Physical foundation has been our collective focus for decades. The print industry creates physical products using physical machines. Digital foundation is our new differentiator: data and systems create new business opportunities and enable you to run your business more efficiently.

Requesting a Demo of Print Software

Published August 31, 2022

The software demo is typically a key to the decision-making part of the sales process. Your definition of your core challenges before the demo can greatly influence ROI outcomes in the future.

Finding the Critical Path in Your Assembly Line

Published August 24, 2022

You run a print factory, you have an assembly line—find the critical path, then find what’s standing between you and your cash flow. Don’t be surprised if it's way upstream of your press.

Doubling Down on the Print MIS/ERP You Own

Published August 17, 2022

Print MIS/ERP systems are a favorite thing to complain about and be frustrated with. This week I am trying to do the impossible: get you to double down on the Print MIS/ERP you currently own instead of throwing it out and starting over.

Selling Features to Your Print Business Software Vendors

Published August 10, 2022

Doing a little more work on feature requests can have an oversized impact on the likelihood of getting into a product roadmap.

Your Technology Stack Conflicts with the Workforce Age

Published August 3, 2022

There are a lot of differences among the different demographic groups in the labor force colliding right now in your print business. The most critical for your business is both the access to technology throughout their lifetimes and the rate of change of technology in their lifetimes.

The Desire to be “Just a Printer”

Published July 27, 2022

The production floor was the centerpiece of print businesses for decades. It determined so much about your business. Capacity, capability, and deliverability times were all dictated by your equipment mix. Today the focus is turning to what customer challenges you can solve in front of the press.

What is Your Competitive Differentiation?

Published July 20, 2022

A competitive differentiation is when you’re doing something that your prospect finds valuable that your competitors are not doing.

Software Has to Be Your Answer to Labor Shortages

Published July 13, 2022

Labor is forcing us to scale in innovative ways. No more “throwing more people” at every scale problem, it's time to optimize so that you can continue to grow with the team you have.

Why Your Projects Fail (Everything is a Project)

Published June 29, 2022

Look at everything as a project and you will find that you need to define everything a lot better. Goals, roles, and constraints get confused with most project and that causes a lot of project failure.

Don’t Get Stuck on One Missing Feature

Published June 22, 2022

Evaluating and buying software can be overwhelming, especially if the software segment is mature and therefore has hundreds of features to it. It is hard to keep track of which solution has which features, let alone evaluating if they will work in your environment.

Dreaming vs. Operational Possibility

Published June 15, 2022

Total automation is a common dream in the print industry (a custom manufacturing industry where the customer provides a key part of the manufacturing process at the time of purchase!). There are dreams and there is the reality of what is operationally possible with your business (a collection of constraints).

Opening to the Realities of a Remote Workforce

Published June 8, 2022

Allowing a remote workforce can improve your talent pool as well as force you into fixing your manual process habits.

Merging Expertise to Improve Outcomes and Culture

Published May 25, 2022

The way you’ve always done it vs. the innovations currently available in the marketplace, mostly in the form of software, can create a lot of tension in your business. Mutual respect for both perspectives is the key to better outcomes.

Making a Commitment to Software Implementation

Published May 18, 2022

Commitments are hard. The sales process for print software is like dating. Everyone is full of positive hormones about potential. Then salespeople step away and the implementation begins. It gets hard. It doesn’t go back to the honeymoon phase—ever.

The Challenge of Expertise

Published May 11, 2022

Being good at one thing doesn’t make you an expert at everything. Expertise is limited because time is limited, and change is unlimited. Understand what you have expertise in and then respect the expertise of others as a way to optimize your business.

A Fierce Attachment to the Status Quo

Published May 4, 2022

We all know our businesses have lots of room for improvement, yet when faced with change we often have an unreasonably fierce attachment to the status quo. This happens in every business and leadership is the only anecdote. In this time of tremendous change, it is critical to apply leadership to overcoming your employee’s fierce attachment to the status quo.

Real Process Improvement vs. Automation “Buzzwordolgy”

Published April 27, 2022

Real change, real business value comes in the form of process improvement. It is incremental vs. revolutionary. Remember, change is often limited by the pace in which the people working in your organization can digest it. Incremental change often takes root, revolutionary change faces fierce resistance and often gets fully rejected by it.

The Buy-a-Different-Print-Software Solution

Published April 20, 2022

Inflexibility is what causes most of the headaches with print software. When your business doesn’t flex, you are at the mercy of software vendors and their commercial print software solutions.

Print Business Constraints

Published April 6, 2022

Constraints have always been present in our print businesses. Today, new ones seem to be getting introduced at what can feel like an alarming rate. Understanding how you can put you and your business in a position to respond to new constraints is the differentiator.

Print MIS Product Spotlight: PressWise

Published March 29, 2022

Jennifer Matt takes an in-depth look at PressWise by SmartSoft, a print MIS built simply as a system to remove touchpoints in a digital printing workflow.

When IT Drives Operational Decisions

Published March 23, 2022

When I think about operations in a print business, I think about the end-to-end business process “order entry to invoice.” The operations of getting jobs out the door and cash in the bank as another way to put it. This business process encompasses a lot of different functional areas of your business, many people, and a handful of software technologies.

Buying New Print Software

Published March 16, 2022

There is much in your control when it comes to choosing the right print software package for your business. It has nothing to do with counting features. It has everything to do with your approach to engaging with the vendor, learning from other printers who already have the solution, and choosing your team wisely.

What is Your Integration Strategy?

Published March 2, 2022

When you move to integrating with software systems external to your business (e.g. at your customers or your suppliers), it’s time to think about your integration strategy or architecture. You can waste a lot of time and money redoing the same thing repeatedly or you can have a strategy that simplifies how you interact with external systems and reuse components each time.

Data Collection Obsession: Measuring Results vs. Activities

Published February 23, 2022

Don’t delude yourself into thinking measuring more metrics in your company will magically fix broken processes. Measuring more doesn’t fix things, it simply identifies that there are more problems to fix.

Remote Workers in Your Print Business

Published February 16, 2022

We’ll never go back to a preset “normal.” No matter what change happens, there is always this collective delusion that things will return back to a previous state. When COVID started, I admittedly thought we would be sheltering in the place for a few weeks. We are now so far past a few weeks and so far away from a pre-COVID normal, it's hard to even remember what that felt like.

Who is Your Print MIS/ERP Administrator?

Published February 9, 2022

The Print MIS/ERP administrator role in your print business is a strategic differentiator. You want as much independence and ability to move at your own pace as possible from the software vendor.

Data Integrity in Your Print Business

Published February 2, 2022

I feel a little like a broken record regarding the importance of data integrity in your Print MIS/ERP. It seems like I write an article about it a couple times a year. It isn’t getting any better out there and it’s only getting more important to your print business’s ability to profitably scale and innovate.

Self-Service Resistance in the Print Industry

Published January 26, 2022

Self-service is a strategic move. It takes leadership. The status quo is a powerful resistance machine which should not be underestimated.

How to Work Better with Print Software Technical Support

Published January 19, 2022

Using a software support desk is not anyone’s favorite activity. You have more control than you think over your ability to get what you need via your software vendors support desks.

Software’s Role in Helping Your Business Through Labor Challenges

Published January 12, 2022

Business processes controlled via trusted software systems are the best defense against the ever-tightening labor market.

Automation Starts with Your Print MIS/ERP

Published January 5, 2022

Automation is about finding recurring patterns and then taking them out of the hands of humans and into the realm of software so that repetitive tasks can be done programmatically—and “programmatically” automating anything in your business will inevitably involve your Print MIS.

Measuring What Matters to Drive Optimal Behavior

Published December 15, 2021

The default approach to working is to just show up and respond to inputs. But what’s the non-default approach to work? Goal setting, which is more important than ever because we’re all drowning in our inputs. Prioritization is critical and goals help us prioritize.

Teamwork in a Challenging Labor Market

Published December 8, 2021

Teamwork can be a differentiator for recruiting and hiring in a tough labor market. Technology can help set up the conditions (trust and transparency) that make teamwork possible.

Trying to Learn Complex Print Software by Calling Support

Published December 1, 2021

You can’t learn a Print MIS system by calling the support desk. One ticket at a time is not an ideal learning environment. Internal expertise and the ability to optimize your print software investments delivers value directly to your bottom line.

Product Spotlight: Canon PRISMAprepare Go

Published November 10, 2021

Jennifer Matt takes an in-depth look at Canon’s PRISMAprepare Go pre-production workflow solution that can be deployed and optimized in a small print facility whose primary business is processing small “upload and print” orders.

Root Cause Challenges in Print Software

Published November 3, 2021

Sometimes the way you’ve been managing your core business data in your Print MIS/ERP is fundamentally broken. This has a ripple effect across your business, so it’s worth the effort to clean it up. Stop ignoring the crack in your business foundation.

Your Existing Technology Stack Matters

Published October 27, 2021

Your existing technology stack should be one of the most important factors in making decisions about new software solutions and new automation projects.

Assessing the Validity of a “Must-Have” Software Feature

Published October 20, 2021

“Must-have” features typically are not worthy of holding up a launch or delaying the utilization of software. The best way to assess the importance of features is to start using the software, then you stop assessing “theoretical” importance.

Web-to-Print Product Spotlight: MyOrderDesk by Print Reach

Published October 13, 2021

Jennifer Matt takes an in-depth look at Print Reach’s MyOrderDesk, a product that has not only stood the test of time but has now become a foundation block in Print Reach’s automation strategy, with a feature set that clearly reflects a product that has evolved with the times and continues down that path.

Is There a Workaround?

Published October 6, 2021

You can use software as it was designed, or you can stand your ground and request workarounds to force the software to work like you do today. Your flexibility has a greater impact on your business outcomes. Using that flexibility to optimize software utilization is the most powerful lever in your toolbox.

The Automation Journey

Published September 29, 2021

Automation is about changing a business process. Focus on the business process, involve the people operating the business process today. Keep full automation as a goal, drive incremental improvement as the strategy.

Print Business Growth via Self Service

Published September 22, 2021

Self-service is an unsettling concept in the traditional business-to-business print world where growth is achieved by pivoting on every custom request from your customers. Online, self-service businesses embrace constraints and reap the benefits in their bottom line.

Web-to-Print Product Spotlight: Liftoff

Published September 15, 2021

Jennifer Matt takes an in-depth look at Liftoff, not a traditional web-to-print solution, but one that has expanded its feature set into other software areas (e.g., CMS, ERP). For example, the Liftoff product suite allows you to create content like blogs on your web-to-print solution.

Marketing Your Way to Sales Growth

Published September 8, 2021

Sales is being reinvented in the age of self-service. When the customer can make a buying decision without parental supervision (aka a sales representative), you can turn marketing into a sales engine.

Software Expertise Turnover at the Printer

Published September 1, 2021

When you lose a press operator, you know what to do. What happens when you lose your Print MIS administrator?

Fear of Launching Customer Facing Software

Published August 25, 2021

Launching a new way of interacting with our customers can be scary. It is also the best way to learn how to iterate the solution going forward. The sooner you realize you don’t know how your customers are going to utilize new tools, the better for your business. It makes you a better listener and helps your customers feel heard.

Our Unique Attachment to Paper

Published August 18, 2021

The products we produce are on paper, so paper is part of our business. Yet we need to break our attachment to the analog (paper) as a tool for running a dynamic custom manufacturing business.

Understanding the Human Resistance to Technology Change

Published August 11, 2021

Projects like a Print MIS/ERP transition always create resistance to change. The most common resistance to change is fear but it generally is disguised under a barrage of logical objections.

The Goal of Automation Drives Process Improvements

Published August 4, 2021

Automation is the sexy sales and marketing term. Process improvement is where the magic happens. Keep your reality hat on and think about automation at the discrete task level of your business process.

Your Business Constraints and Print Business Software

Published July 28, 2021

Constraints are real. You can feel limited by them or you can decide to work with them in a way to maximize your results. No business is without constraints. With print software, humans and existing software are critical constraints to embrace.

The Cult of “Busy-ness” in Your Print Business

Published July 21, 2021

Being busy doesn’t equate to business success. Is your busy-ness leading you in the right direction? Or are you being led by your inputs? Prioritization takes uninterrupted time and discipline, it results in your activities having strategic direction.

Print MIS Product Spotlight: EFI’s Midmarket Print Suite

Published July 14, 2021

This Print Software Product Spotlight looks at EFI’s Midmarket Suite. EFI’s “suite” approach to software solutions essentially pre-packages a group of products that already work together to solve end-to-end workflows.

Buying Strategic Software Features

Published June 30, 2021

A strategic feature of software is a value driver that generally has prerequisites in order to reap the benefits of the feature. The sales process generally skips the prerequisites (for obvious reasons). It is your responsibility as the buyer to understand precisely what it will take to reach the potential.

Print MIS Product Spotlight: Lift Software

Published June 24, 2021

Lift Software Print MIS/ERP was invented inside a large wide format printer. That alone will tell you a lot about how Lift perceived the challenges of running a print business. For most Print MIS solutions, supporting wide format has been an add-on to a more traditionally focused offset or digital print manufacturing focus. For Lift it is clearly a deep specialty.

Software Enabled Automation: What? Why? and How?

Published June 16, 2021

Software has evolved to allow automation with developers. Print businesses can take advantage of this if they invest in technical leadership and give them a seat at the decision-making table.

Document Your Processes—or Continue to Wing It?

Published June 9, 2021

The documentation of your repeating processes will change your business in so many ways. No matter how inefficient you might be today, the simple act of documenting processes and committing to iterative improvements will turn your business into a continuous improvement engine.

Print Software Feature Overlap

Published June 2, 2021

Software solutions have features that overlap and are outright solving the exact same issues. Just be careful of the tendency to assume that a small feature means more than it really does. Be wary of where the feature gets done in your workflows.

What Problem are You Asking Print Software to Solve?

Published May 26, 2021

Lots of activity, little in the way of results is often the situation when your culture jumps to solutions without defining the problem first. Pause, say the problem out loud. Ask others to say it in their own words. Don’t move to the “how” until you all agree on the “what.”

Designating Your Print Software Expert(s)

Published May 19, 2021

Who is in charge of your print software solutions? The small step of simply assigning an individual goes a long way towards truly owning the software tools that run your business.

Print MIS Product Spotlight: Sabre Limited/Reseller of PrintVis

Published May 12, 2021

The PrintVis Print MIS/ERP is an offering that combines a globally recognized ERP system from Microsoft (Dynamics 365 Business Central), with the print industry specific addon from PrintVis, and in this article we’re featuring Sabre Limited as the implementation partner.

Software Success: Equal Parts Strategy and Execution

Published May 5, 2021

Where are you headed? What is your strategic goal? Then who is going to execute on all the tasks required to reach that goal. Strategy + execution plays a part in almost every project you take on in your business—especially print software projects.

Replace Training & Support with Learning

Published April 28, 2021

Training is not learning. Training is something you hire other people to do to you. Learning is something that you do. Start building a learning culture now in your print business; it is the only defense to the acceleration of change in our industry.

Print MIS Data Integrity Matters

Published April 21, 2021

The integrity of your print business data is a foundational building block of your business. It impacts how fast you can move. Lack of data integrity is like an anchor your business has to drag around—it slows almost every aspect of your business down.

Buying a New Print MIS is Not Your First Step

Published April 14, 2021

Replacing your Print MIS might be one of the most important projects you take on in the history of your business. Shopping is not the first step. Assessing your data and your processes is ideally done before you start interacting with software sales representatives.

It’s the Technology Laggards That Cost You the Most

Published April 7, 2021

Laggards are people in your company who have stopped learning and actually insist on doing their job in the same way they have been doing it, and for one reason: it’s the way they’ve been doing it. Investing in your laggards to drive software utilization is a good investment.

Print Business Front Office Modernization: Part 5—Payment

Published March 24, 2021

You getting paid is as much a part of your customer’s experience as placing the order. Make every effort to streamline how much customer time you consume. A vendor that is easy to do business with creates loyal customers.

Print Business Front Office Modernization: Part 4—Artwork

Published March 17, 2021

You can’t start printing until you have approved artwork, but you don’t have complete control over this step in the process. You can optimize your press and finishing processes down to the second, yet you might wait three full days for artwork approval. The best you can do is make it as easy as possible for the customer to respond in a timely manner. Don’t confuse them, don’t make them work, and don’t underestimate convenience.

Print Business Front Office Modernization: Part 3—Orders

Published March 10, 2021

How are orders managed before they hit the press? In this third part of a five-part series, Jennifer Matt defines the complete order process from initial inquiry to invoice payment. This means a great deal of the process happens in the carpeted area of your print business.

Print Business Front Office Modernization: Part 2—Prospects and Customers

Published March 3, 2021

Think about your front office in terms of what “objects'' you need to manage there. In part 2 of a five-part series, we discuss customers and prospects. This means tracking sales activities and inserting more valuable information (both quantitative and qualitative) into your Print MIS regarding your customers.

Print Business Front Office Modernization: Part 1—Guiding Principles

Published February 24, 2021

This article, the first of a five-part series on the modernization of your print business front office, starts with some guiding principles and then discuss the various “objects” that are managed by the carpeted area of your plant.

Considering a Non-Print-Specific MIS/ERP

Published February 17, 2021

If you run a print manufacturing business, chances are you should invest in a print-specific MIS/ERP solution. However, proceed carefully if you insist on adopting a generic MIS/ERP software solution. Don’t get caught up in paying for customizations that are expected features for a print business.

So Your Print Sales Team Isn’t Very Technical

Published February 10, 2021

Technical skills are important in every functional area of your print business and sales is no exception. Every salesperson needs to be able to calmly and strategically uncover business challenges and communicate these challenges to your technical resources without limiting potential solutions or setting unreasonable expectations with the customer.

Print Software and 2021’s Business Trends

Published February 3, 2021

Working from home, data as an asset, and automation: three business trends and their specific impact on print businesses.

Customer Segmentation in Your Print Business

Published January 27, 2021

Understanding your customer segmentation and even more importantly the “jobs” the printed products do for your customers can help you better target your sales efforts. Diversity is a hedge against catastrophic market segment collapse (another lesson of COVID-19).

Print Software Feature Requests: You’re a Priority, Just Not the Only Priority

Published January 20, 2021

Feature requests are popular. The default response to new software to ask for it to be changed to fit the way you specifically think it should fit into your specific environment. “Change your processes to optimize your use of the software” is the one statement that would save the print industry millions of dollars.

A Dynamic Print Business

Published January 13, 2021

The printing industry is becoming more dynamic—not just as it relates to COVID-19 but in general. Everything is moving and increasing in velocity. Our ability to thrive in this environment requires a dynamic business approach, one that is characterized by constant change. A business must adjust according to its current conditions. This is a path to systemizing a dynamic business, one that is characterized by constant change—but a constant change that doesn’t leave your people behind.

IT Integrations with Your Customer’s ERP

Published January 6, 2021

Integrate with your customers’ systems so that your technologies have relationships just like your people have relationships. The more ties that bind you and your customers together, the less likely you will divorce!

COVID-19 Sales Strategy: Think of Your Customer’s Customer

Published December 16, 2020

Selling during the pandemic is like selling during a widespread economic downturn. You have to figure out the market segments who are least impacted or, in COVID-19’s case. find the companies who are positively impacted. Directing your sales efforts is critical to closing new business.

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