WhatTheyThink

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 372 articles

Identifying Important Data Decisions

Published August 12, 2020

Data decisions get made everyday in your print business. Here are three examples of important data decisions that we can all learn from.

Web-to-Print’s Primary Value is Customer Convenience

Published August 5, 2020

Online ordering is about customer convenience. How do you leverage technology and self service to make it easier for your customers to do business with you?

Systemize the Predictable in Your Print Business

Published July 29, 2020

Your business is made up of two kinds of processes: predictable ones and exceptions. A well-run business has codified or systematized the predictable business processes so that the humans working in the business apply all their skills to the exceptions.

Partnering to Expand Your Customer Solutions

Published July 22, 2020

Partnering can solve challenges that you don’t feel comfortable taking on initially. A partnership also helps you grow your expertise in an area so that when you do expand, you’ll make much better investment decisions.

IT Infrastructure and Software Performance

Published July 15, 2020

More and more, the productivity of your company is based on the ability to efficiently work in the software applications that run your business. Don’t hamstring your mission-critical software applications by starving them of the resources they require.

Estimating: Your Customers Least Favorite Aspect of Print Buying

Published July 9, 2020

Getting your customer’s pricing is a critical measure of customer satisfaction. Your customer might not be outwardly complaining, but many print customers are migrating to online solutions that provide immediate pricing. Not every job you produce deserves a manual estimate.

Projects: Getting Stuff Done in Your Print Business

Published June 24, 2020

Every business has projects. Every business treats them differently. The range is enormous; from no project methodology to bureaucratic craziness. Print businesses of all sizes would benefit from a simple project methodology because it can quickly eliminate the most common reasons why things just don’t get done.

The Print Software Evaluation Process

Published June 17, 2020

Evaluating print software is a process that desperately needs to evolve. Step back and look at the business objectives of the evaluation as a starting point to reinventing your approach to purchasing software.

COVID-19's Impact on the Print Sales Process

Published June 10, 2020

So many trends are being amplified or accelerated by COVID-19; the evolution of the sales process is one of them. Your customers are being asked again to do more with fewer people and less time. They need vendors/partners that can help alleviate the pressure.

The Print Industry After COVID-19

Published June 3, 2020

COVID-19 economic symptoms include the weakening of the “we’ve always done it this way defense”—which will have some positive impacts on outdated printer workflows and some negative impacts when customers evaluate print spend under new market conditions.

The Opportunity of a Crisis (like COVID-19)

Published May 27, 2020

There will be a new, new normal after the height of COVID-19 passes. It will be even more reliant on software technologies to connect your employees, your customers, and your suppliers. The time to evolve to this new reality (often referred to as digital transformation) is now—crisis evolution cuts through a lot of the resistance.

The Real Work of Software Optimization

Published May 20, 2020

Learning is the real work of software optimization. Once you really learn the application you own it. Once you own it, then you have the chance of reaching its full potential inside your organization.

COVID-19 Should be Driving Your Digital Transformation

Published May 13, 2020

Crisis creates an environment for rapid innovation. The digital transformation of all business sectors was in progress before COVID-19, and the crisis will continue to separate the digital haves and have-nots.

The Who, What, and Why of Print Software

Published May 6, 2020

Some basic questions—who? what? and most importantly why?—of print software will greatly increase your chances of optimizing your print software investments.

Understanding the Primary Objective of Print Software

Published April 29, 2020

Understanding what the primary objective or challenge that a print software claims to solve is an important factor for shopping for print software solutions. You have challenges, print software vendors have solutions (in the form of products). The better defined the challenge, the better the chance of alignment and return on investment.

Email is Not an Online Print Ordering Solution

Published April 22, 2020

We are going to come out of COVID-19 into a different economy and a different print industry. Many of the changes taking place now will persist, even after we’re all vaccinated or have developed widespread herd immunity. Your customers will return with fewer people resources—a competitive advantage will be for vendors who can save customers time.

Overcoming Resistance to Learning New Software Tools

Published April 8, 2020

Adult learning is hard especially when you’re transitioning from a toolset that your people have been comfortably using for years. Do not give the resistance any power and do not try to force the new system to work like the old one—you will pay dearly for that in the form of lost productivity.

April Fools & Utilizing Top Talent During COVID-19

Published April 1, 2020

First an April fools laugh, then some more insight on how to deploy your best resources during the COVID-19 pause in capitalism.

Strategic Optimization During COVID-19

Published March 25, 2020

Documenting your core workflows can be a good strategic use of key resources who might not be fully occupied working from home.

Printers Need More Selling During Print Software Implementations

Published March 11, 2020

The sales process should extend into the implementation of print software because all humans need to be persuaded of the merits so that they can become enthusiastic about the new toolset.

Elevating Foundational Print Software Decisions

Published March 4, 2020

There are a lot of decisions to be made around print software; it might surprise you which ones I think are the most important.

Solving All Your Print Software Challenges at Once

Published February 26, 2020

It's easy to get into a panic when you wake up to the reality that your approach to software in your print business requires a major overall. It probably took you years to get into this state; don’t freak out because it could take years to crawl out of it. The best thing to do is to calmly prioritize and then start making incremental progress.

Print Software Strategic Planning

Published February 12, 2020

Your software investments deserve big picture, strategic planning. It’s time to step back and assess your core business processes and how software helps, hinders, optimizes, or ideally automates the steps required everyday to deliver on your customer promises.

The Carpeted Area of Your Print Business

Published February 5, 2020

We have spent decades focusing and optimizing the production floor (where there is no carpet). It is time to focus our energies on the carpeted areas of the business which impact customer’s perceptions of our business.

Solving Print Business Challenges with Software

Published January 29, 2020

Describe your business challenges: be specific, be precise. Then let go of any attachment to the “how this business challenge gets solved by print software.” You want your business challenges solved. One of the fastest ways to solve them is to describe them accurately and then to be open to all the possible solutions.

Purchasing a Web-to-Print Solution

Published January 22, 2020

You purchase software to solve business problems. When evaluating software, keep your focus on the challenges you want to solve. This will keep you open-minded about all the possible ways your challenges might be solved, rather than attachment to one specific solution.

Optimize the Print Software You Own

Published January 15, 2020

Treat software like printing press hardware: assume your people and your processes have to change to optimize the new software rather than staying attached to how you think the software should work.

Meritocracy-Based Business Decisions

Published January 8, 2020

Technology is invading every corner of the print industry, and many print business owners are novices when it comes to technology. How do you make good business decisions when you are not the subject matter expert? Whom do you listen to? How do you know they are qualified? Run your business like a meritocracy.

Most Adults Don’t Learn Until They Have To

Published December 18, 2019

People in your organization have to keep learning new things so that you can continue to optimize your business using new tools (mostly software). Leadership’s job is to deliver the “have to” part of the learning equation.

What is Your Print Business Differentiation?

Published December 11, 2019

What do you provide for your sales team to get the upper hand in the marketplace? Do you have differentiation? Are you investing in something that will not only win new customers but keep existing ones?

The Print Customer’s Narrative

Published December 4, 2019

A customer narrative documents the experience of doing business with you—from the sales process all the way through invoicing—from the customer’s perspective.

Selling Print vs. Selling Web-to-Print Software

Published November 20, 2019

Your print sales people need a different perspective when selling web-to-print solutions. They need to understand short vs long term benefits as well as how the customer’s convenience is driving loyalty.

Print Industry M&A and Print Software

Published November 13, 2019

The merger of software technology stacks and strategy is a key component to any two businesses coming together. It takes time, effort, and patience as technology is uniquely embedded in a business. Be strategic about what you address and when you address it. Not everything should change right away.

Waiting for Software to Change to Fit Your Business

Published November 6, 2019

Software feels malleable. New features come out. Trade shows are packed full of vendors showing the bright new thing that might lure you into the sales process. Complex software (Print MIS) does not change fast (because it shouldn’t), and the sooner you realize that changing your business is a better strategy, the faster you’ll get to the ROI and business differentiation that a Print MIS can deliver.

Training vs. Learning with Print Software

Published October 30, 2019

The number one thing we hear when we engage with a printer who is having trouble with their print software (Print MIS, Web-to-Print, or Pre-Press automation) is “we didn’t get trained.” Ironically, more training is rarely the solution to this common complaint.

Solving Software Challenges With Tin Foil

Published October 23, 2019

You have a bias for what solutions work; that bias is based on what has worked for you in the past. If you’re a print business owner, buying new stuff feels like a solid way to solve challenges of hiring new employees. Solving print software challenges requires expertise in print software.

A Cloud-Based Software Mindset

Published October 16, 2019

We live in a connected world. The artifacts (documents, spreadsheets, etc.) we create for business should be stored centrally with controlled access in the cloud. Isolated artifacts on employees’ computers slow projects down and make research into past projects nearly impossible.

Print Software ROI

Published October 9, 2019

Getting the return on investment for print software takes a lot more work by the people at the printer than you are led to believe in the software sales process.

Prioritizing Online Tools for Existing Customers

Published October 2, 2019

The dream of an online business that delivers profitable revenue from strangers is a good dream to have. It simply takes a lot of work to be successful at it. I have seen too many printers spend too much time focusing on the software and forgetting that internet traffic is not free or easy to get.

Why Software is Challenging and Expensive

Published September 25, 2019

Building good software requires a very desirable skill set in our current economy. Virtually every single company on the planet needs to utilize software in order to increase their efficiency and reach more customers.

Perspectives from Outside Your Print Business

Published September 18, 2019

Getting outside perspectives into your print business is important, especially when implementing a Print MIS or other print software. You want people who see a wide variety of print businesses to weigh in on best practices.

Solving Print Software Challenges by Borrowing from Other Features

Published September 11, 2019

Define the challenge you're trying to solve before you jump into a shortcut that borrows from another feature in your Print MIS or web-to-print. If you borrow too much, you’re implementation of the software will get detached from the vendor’s product roadmap—which can be expensive and painful.

The Migrating Value Chain: Print Production to Software

Published September 4, 2019

The value in the print industry today is migrating from the production floor to the mobile device of your customers. How are you investing in providing your customer access to your business from their phone?

Making Brutal Software Feature Decisions

Published August 28, 2019

Print software is a pile of features that solve business process challenges. You have to learn how to prioritize what’s the next most important feature in the software by comparing its impact against all the other features.

The Trap of One More Software Feature

Published August 21, 2019

Don’t let a feature stop you from implementing what works for you today. Don’t let the people in your organization that are good at looking for all the ways something won’t work win. Implement what works and then find ways around the missing features. Waiting is keeping your business in neutral.

The Primary Reason Print Software Gets Thrown Out

Published August 14, 2019

Print software gets thrown out by printers primarily because of factors that are 100% in the printer’s control.

Strategic vs. Tactical Print Employees

Published August 7, 2019

Your print business has two kinds of challenges: the challenge of getting jobs out the door (tactical) and the business of continuing to strategically evolve so you maintain relevance and competitive advantage in the marketplace.

RFPs Are Not a Good Way to Procure Print Software

Published July 24, 2019

Learning is the most important part of software procurement decisions. The vendor needs to learn about you (to assess if you are a good fit for their solution) and you need to learn about the vendor. An RFP doesn’t facilitate any learning.

The Event the Print Industry Needs

Published July 17, 2019

A learning event vs. a selling event—that is the event the print industry needs. An event where you go to solve your challenges through active collaboration, open-minded because nobody is trying to sell you anything.

Email Is a Terrible Way to Communicate (Internally)

Published July 10, 2019

Internal communication deserves better tools than email. Real collaboration happens best when more, not fewer, people are involved. Taking internal communication out of email reduces the cognitive overhead of deciding whom to communicate with.

Pricing Software Tools That Enable Print Programs

Published June 26, 2019

Your print sales team has to evolve to understand and be able to sell the value of the software that enables print demand from business processes. Every printer should have a direct revenue line for their software.

Hidden Labor Costs of Bad Data

Published June 19, 2019

The level of trust you have in the data in your Print MIS impacts all aspects of your business. When printers get their Print MIS to be “trustworthy,” they can move a whole lot faster, with less labor costs, and be more responsive to the never-ending request for more data from all stakeholders in your business.

Choose to Measure Time Spent in Your Print Business

Published June 5, 2019

Everyday, most of us choose the most important thing to work on. The employees in the carpeted area of your print business are making these decisions everyday. Do you know what they are prioritizing? Do you know how they are spending their time? You should measure time just like you measure revenues, profits, and costs.

How Timing Impacts Strategic Print Software Decisions

Published May 29, 2019

Being strategic about print software is nearly impossible when you are in a crisis. Too many print software decisions are made under duress. When you have the discipline to plan before the crisis, you are being strategic.

Print MIS Product Spotlight: Avanti’s Slingshot

Published May 22, 2019

Jennifer Matt reviews Slingshot by Avanti, and feels that its integrated warehouse management, multiple approaches to scheduling, and approach to implementation are its core strengths.

Yesterday’s Workflow Tools: Spreadsheets, Email, and PDFs

Published May 15, 2019

The toolset for solving business workflow challenges has completely changed in the last decade. If the only tool(s) you’re deploying are email, spreadsheets, and/or PDFs, you are using yesterday’s tools to solve today’s challenges.

How Clean Is Your Print Business Data?

Published May 8, 2019

All print business owners want more data about their businesses so they can make better decisions. It isn’t about reporting packages or business intelligence tools—it’s really about how your business generates data on a daily basis.

Solve Problems Your Customers Care About

Published May 1, 2019

I wish all customers’ top priority was purchasing high-quality print; it isn’t. Your customer’s have upstream problems. The printers who go upstream and solve these problems will be rewarded as manufacturers downstream.

A Culture of Accountability to Learning in Your Print Business

Published April 24, 2019

Learning is the experience of trying to do something without parental supervision. It is not watching a trainer do something and shaking your head that you understand. Holding your people accountable for learning activities is the most important part of improving user adoption of new tools in your print business.

Pattern Recognition as a Path to Print Business Efficiency

Published April 17, 2019

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.

Workflow Automation and Standard Operating Procedures

Published April 10, 2019

Automation starts with an understanding of the business process and how it’s done “manually.” Documenting this business process is called a “standard operating procedure” which is where you can begin your journey to some level of automation.

Buying Web-to-Print Software Under Duress

Published March 27, 2019

Your customers want convenience. Printers who prioritize around making it easy to do business with their customers will differentiate themselves. Don’t wait until your best customers demand online ordering and self-service access to the business they do with you—do it proactively and strategically instead of under duress.

Why Do You Need a Print MIS Administrator?

Published March 20, 2019

Software is like a press; it needs to be staffed. Software is like a press; it needs to be maintained. Software is like your business; it needs to keep evolving. Your most important piece of software is your Print MIS—dedicate the tasks of your Print MIS to one individual.

Give Your Employees Better Tools

Published March 13, 2019

New software tools are often rejected because the humans feel like their jobs are being replaced by computers. Software does math better, faster, and more accurately than humans—that is not debatable. But new tools augment brainpower—not replace it.

The Importance of Uninterrupted Time in a Print Business

Published March 6, 2019

Your print business is being invaded by software tools. These tools require a level of thinking/concentration that requires blocks of uninterrupted time for your employees. Without this uninterrupted time, your software will remain grossly underutilized and lacking measurable ROI.

Here Comes the Flood—Going Live with Print Software

Published February 27, 2019

Think of your go-live date for your Print MIS as a flood. Prepare for it by training everyone how to create sandbags and then monitoring that everyone actually applied the learning and figured out how to do their jobs in the new system BEFORE go-live.

Learning Through Engagement at Print Vendor User Conferences

Published February 20, 2019

User conferences are a great way to change your perspective and get a break from your day-to-day activities. The learning happens when you engage with both the presenters and the participants.

All or Nothing with Print Software

Published February 13, 2019

When buying and implementing print software, start with the simple jobs software does well, implement and learn. Do not get stuck in a myriad of “use case exceptions” as an excuse to do nothing. You will never get ROI and you’ll never find software that can do everything.

Print Estimating is Simply a Time Calculator

Published February 6, 2019

A lot of crazy things can happen in estimating departments. But estimating is the foundation of your print business. If your estimates are grossly inaccurate, you risk the utilization of your precious resources for the privilege of losing money. If your estimates are right on target, you are able to make very strategic decisions about customer pricing. Essentially, the estimating department is your profit management center.

Print Business Leadership in the Digital Age

Published January 30, 2019

Leading by example is the most powerful way to approach challenging business environments. When the leadership is engaged in constant learning, the culture of the company is much more likely to be a learning organization. If I could pick only one characteristic of a business, it would be learning because if you’re learning, you’re staying relevant against any future changes.

Every Employee in Your Business Needs to Be Technical

Published January 23, 2019

Technical people are a differentiator in your business—not just the typical geeks, but technical people at every position in your company. When your print business is staffed by technical people, they have a greater potential to deliver profitable growth.

Print Software Integrations Are Integral to Your Print Business

Published January 16, 2019

Integrated software is a requirement for an end-to-end workflow. You will be faced with lots of decisions around integration when you’re purchasing new software tools. Never let integration to be a yes/no question—it requires much more exploration and understanding.

The Manifestations of Fear in Print Software Implementations

Published January 9, 2019

Software implementations evoke fear in the minds of your employees—these fears are manifested in a variety of ways. You should be looking for fear, not reacting to the symptoms of fear that cause all kinds of issues with print software implementations.

Selling Print Requires More Than Order-Taking

Published December 19, 2018

Your customers expect more than a “print order taker” print sales representative. Successful printers require a sales team that can dig in and learn about their customer’s business processes that involve print. When you understand the business process that print is involved in, you get the opportunity to solve other challenges and create more value for your customers. This is now an expectation of most customers.

Frustrating, Tedious, and Detail-Oriented Print MIS Work

Published December 12, 2018

The topic of Print MIS software can be a dangerous topic to bring up if you want to keep things low-key or drama-free. Most printers are really frustrated with their MIS. I’ve been working on customer-facing technology (web-to-print) my whole career—the Print MIS is by far the most important software tool you have in your business.

Understanding the Software Feature Request

Published December 5, 2018

Software is never done. It has to keep moving to stay compatible. It operates in business processes that keep changing. The consumer expectation of how fast and easy software can change is being set by some of the most valuable companies on the planet.

Print Business Differentiation

Published November 28, 2018

What are you investing in that will result in the true differentiation of your print business? An important question in a market where many commercial printers look alike (same equipment, same sales approach, similar online tools). I think differentiation is about solving additional customer challenges that your competitors don't even know about.

After Your Print Software Strategic Decision

Published November 14, 2018

Once you make a print software decision, you have to enforce it by communicating the strategy clearly and then repeatedly. Your people will forget, your business will evolve, sales people will appear from other solutions trying to convince your team of a different path.

Is Your Print Business Freewheeling or Process Driven?

Published November 7, 2018

If you make decisions about your business based solely on the intuition of you and your staff, you are limiting the growth and the scale of business learning that can take place in your organization.

Optimal Use of Your Web-to-Print System

Published October 31, 2018

Your web-to-print solution is underutilized. Do all functional areas of your company—sales, customer service, technology—understand all the challenges your current web-to-print system solves? Probably not. You can’t be “solution focused” without understanding the challenges your toolset solves.

Make Your Print Business a Learning Organization

Published October 17, 2018

A print business that learns is one that has a foundation for tracking its business processes and improving on them. From a cultural standpoint, a learning organization has to be able to talk openly about mistakes made from all levels of the organization.

The Hidden Secrets of Print Software Implementation

Published October 10, 2018

The implementation of print software is as important as the software itself. With every software tool there is a foundational knowledge that will help you be more self-sufficient. Those printers who understand their software tools succeed in spite of lack of support from print software vendors.

Print Ecommerce Data vs. Print MIS Financial Data

Published September 26, 2018

The ability to make data-driven decisions is critical to your business success. The various software systems (Print MIS, web-to-print) are your primary tools for managing this data. When you do integrations make sure you keep the control of right data in the right hands.

Web-to-Print Product Spotlight: printQ by CloudLab

Published September 24, 2018

Jennifer Matt reviews printQ by CloudLab and its modular approach to web-to-print.

Accurate Press Specifications in Your Print MIS

Published September 19, 2018

The process of getting your Print MIS into a “trusted state” can be difficult, but the effort is well worth it. Printers who 100% trust the data in their Print MIS move faster and are more profitable than those who are constantly questioning the data.

Print Software Fit to Your Technology Stack

Published September 12, 2018

Print software is a powerful tool to create efficiencies in your business. Your success with print software is dependent upon how well you can make the various technologies work and play together in your overall technology stack.

The Costs of Supporting Multiple Print Software Solutions

Published September 5, 2018

Buying more software isn’t always the best option. Duplicate solutions that solve the same set of challenges (e.g. multiple web-to-print solutions) have extra costs and require extra understanding by your sales team. Buying software should be at the same strategic level as buying presses is in your print business.

Make Your Print Business Work Smarter

Published August 29, 2018

Working smarter is an evolution. Digital tools are providing us ways to work more efficiently, but it comes down to being able to work with other humans. Efficient communication is the key to working smarter and optimizing the digital tools at our disposal.

Collaborative Print Sales

Published August 22, 2018

When sales become more complicated, involving more people on both sides of the equation, you need a team player to facilitate collaboration. A winning sales team is a combination of subject matter expertise and relationship building.

The Impact on the Printer of Software Acquisitions

Published August 15, 2018

A disruptive market creates the conditions for acquisitions. This has been happening with printers for years and print software vendors are experiencing the same conditions. As a customer of these products, you must understand the conditions of the acquisition in order to prepare for how it will impact you as a customer of the software.

Buying Print Software is a Marriage

Published August 8, 2018

When you invest in software for your print business, it’s like a marriage because you want to have a healthy long-term relationship with the vendor. Changing software is painful and expensive (like divorces).

Software Tools for Teamwork in Your Print Business

Published August 1, 2018

You work with a team. It’s time to upgrade the tools you use to foster more efficient teamwork and better management of the artifacts that are created in projects. Email with attached files doesn’t cut it anymore. We are creating an isolated mess of artifacts that cannot be effectively found or used in the next project.

Succeeding in Spite of Print Software’s Weaknesses

Published July 18, 2018

A culture of finding ways to optimize software in your business is something you can control. The successful printers will be the ones who are getting the most of their print software tools—mostly by being open to evolving their own workflows to fit the how the software works best.

Innovation with Print Software

Published July 11, 2018

The source of our innovation is moving from the production floor to the customer’s mobile device. We are going from the differentiation based on speed, quality, and finishing to differentiation based on solving customer’s data challenges way upstream of the printing press.

Delivering Relevant Benefits in Print Sales

Published June 27, 2018

Sales is about catering your company’s solutions to the specific challenges that are relevant to their current situation. There is no better way to lose a prospect’s attention then to talk about subjects that aren’t relevant to them.

Leadership Is Essential to Web-to-Print Implementations

Published June 20, 2018

The transition between sales and implementation of web-to-print systems can be a rough road for the implementation team and the customer. The leadership of the implementation belongs with the printer—all too often the customers take the leadership and run the project off a cliff after spending lots of time and money.

Latest Innovations in Your Print Business

Published June 13, 2018

Do your innovation projects take into consideration what would be best for your customers? Your customers want to know that you’re innovating to solve their challenges.

Learn from Print Sales Losses

Published May 30, 2018

When you lose a sales deal, how does your company react? Do you have a culture of learning from losses or do you have a culture of blaming? A sales loss is a treasure trove of learning—successful companies evaluate and adjust for their next pitch.

Web-to-Print is a Tool for Your Customers

Published May 23, 2018

Prepress automation, streamlining your customer service department, and reducing the time between inquiry and jobs getting on press – these are common feature requests for web-to-print systems. They are all about you (the printer) – web-to-print isn’t about you! Web-to-print is for your customers!

Delegate the Right Jobs to Software

Published May 16, 2018

Every industry is being transformed by a new staffing option for the “jobs to be done” and that staffing option is software. Your business needs to get stuff done—some of that stuff needs to be done by humans and a lot of that stuff needs to be done by software.