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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 454 articles

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.

The Future of Print Customer Service

Published December 9, 2020

The future of your customer service department still involves skilled labor. In fact, the labor is more skilled than it is today and it will be able to handle more volume because of the self-service tools your customers will have access to. Customer service will turn into customer success—a proactive element to drive more business and maintain loyalty thru convenience.

A Good Year for Software: The New Infrastructure of Your Print Business

Published December 8, 2020

WhatTheyThink Print Software section editor Jennifer Matt looks back at the year 2020 in software, some of the trends that emerged from the pandemic, and how software has become an important element in helping print companies adapt and pivot.

Our Customers Don’t Want to Order Online

Published December 2, 2020

Humans resist change, even when it provides them real value. If you need a group of humans to change, you have to think about your approach in order to optimize the outcomes. This applies to your existing customers and how they engage with your business.

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

Published November 11, 2020

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

User Adoption and a Useful Crisis (COVID-19)

Published November 4, 2020

A crisis is also an opportunity, and COVID-19 is no exception. The rate of adaptation taking place is one of the most powerful forces at play in 2020. Entire populations are expanding their comfort zones with online tools, remote learning, and working from home.

The Death of Paper-Based Processes

Published October 28, 2020

Your business processes need to move off of paper and into software. This was important before COVID-19, and like everything else, COVID-19 has simply accelerated this trend. Paper is no longer a viable business process medium.

Selling Print is Never Going Back to Normal

Published October 21, 2020

Sales is never going back to normal. The pandemic didn’t create anything new—it simply accelerated what was already happening. Evolve your sales team now; donuts and face to face meetings aren’t coming back.

Web-to-Print Product Spotlight: Propago

Published October 14, 2020

Most web-to-print software solutions are built inside software companies. Propago was built inside a large commercial printer. This is a unique origin story for a software platform and it tells us a lot about how and why features made it into the Propago product. Print Software Section Editor Jennifer Matt takes a close look at Propago’s web-to-print solution.

Decision Fatigue in Software Implementations

Published October 7, 2020

Making decisions wears us out, even easy decisions like what to wear, what to eat for breakfast. Decision fatigue is something we need to manage especially when it comes to projects that require lots and lots of decisions (like Print MIS implementations). 

Selling Web-to-Print Portals

Published September 30, 2020

Web-to-print portals are the enabling technology behind a “print program” which can elevate your relationship with your customers from transactional to relational. That relationship becomes “stickier” when technology is embedded into the customer’s organization.

One Login Per Customer!

Published September 23, 2020

Don’t make your customers think. Don’t make your customers administer multiple logins in order to do business with you. Don’t make your online engagement a burden on your customers.

Successful Print Software Implementation Mindset

Published September 16, 2020

Don’t have a mindset like a lighthouse. Have a mindset like a fast, nimble, ship with the most advanced navigation systems. When navigating the waters of the print manufacturing industry, stationary businesses will not survive.

Adult Learning at Your Print Business

Published September 9, 2020

Like it or not, all work involves learning. Not like our education system, but self-directed, project-based learning. You have to be a self-learner and as a leader you have to hold your people accountable for self-learning.

Process Creators vs. Process Followers

Published September 2, 2020

As your business matures and grows, you will need to improve your processes. As software invades every corner of your business, your processes have to change to adapt to the new reality. You need to know who in your company is a process creator.

Online Ordering Adoption Begins with Customer Service

Published August 26, 2020

Your customer service team is the place to start online ordering adoption. You can practice your sales pitch on them and then teach them how to pitch your customers into a self-service workflow.

The COVID-19 Era Is a Time to Contract and Rebuild Your Print Business

Published August 19, 2020

COVID-19 is a challenge and an opportunity to rebuild and make changes to your business that would otherwise be met with the standard “this is how we’ve always done it” line of resistance.

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.