Workflow systems are often the backbone of a productive, profitable print business. Understanding your workflow, ensuring it is easy to operate and that it provides the information you need, when you need it, can be the key to success - but how well do you know your workflow? Do you know if it is fully optimized and enables you to run your production site in the most effective way? Is now the time to take stock of the solution you have in place and ensure that it is delivering the best possible results for your business?
The Solimar Systems team will be discussing the challenges around understanding your workflow and the numerous options available to overcome these challenges during their sessions at the Xplor20 virtual event (September 29, October 1, 6 and 8).
We spoke to Solimar Systems’ Mary Ann Rowan, CXO, Jonathan Malone-McGrew, Senior Director of Engagement and Dan Adler, Solimar Systems’ Relationship Consultant and Director of DA Digital, to get a sneak preview of the topics they plan to cover.
To start with, could you tell us why it’s important to understand how efficient and effective your workflow is?
Jonathan: In a nutshell, an optimized workflow enables a print business to take on more work, push that work through production processes with minimal interruption or manual intervention, and deliver a quality product to your customers in the shortest time frame possible.
Dan: If you don’t fully understand your workflow systems and therefore, aren’t aware of the areas that can be streamlined or improved, it can have a significant impact on your bottom line.
Why do you think businesses often don’t know enough about their workflow or assess their processes as often as they should?
Mary Ann: Workflows can be very complex or may have been set up a long time ago and by an individual who had sole understanding of the system or how it works. As such, there is certainly a perception that understanding workflows in any great detail is a huge undertaking.
Jonathan: Right now, businesses are making changes quite frequently and quickly but, even in a normal year, businesses adapt how they work and the services they offer as the company and world around them evolves. Workflows should be reviewed when these changes are made but often this isn’t part of the process. If that is the case, what you’ll find is what may have worked well before may not be delivering the same efficiencies now. This is especially true of home-grown print workflow management solutions which have evolved to solve urgent problems rather than strategic plans. Although these solutions are, by their nature, highly customized, they may not provide the seamless ‘end-to-end’ operation or transparency that is essential in modern print shop environments.
Dan: However, a lot of businesses are taking the opportunity this year to pause and evaluate the way they work and the improvements that can be made. While you are making these changes, why not ask yourself if you have also reviewed your workflow recently? From the time you compose or onboard a job, through to production and delivery, are the steps you take as efficient as possible and are they enabling you to maximize your production capabilities? If the answer is ‘no’ or ‘you can’t be sure’, then take this opportunity to ‘walk your workflow’, as we would say, and make the changes necessary to reply with a resounding ‘yes’ in the future.
What are some of the key changes that businesses may have seen in recent times that could affect the way they operate and ultimately, their workflow?
Mary Ann: I think it’s clear that a more visual way of working is becoming more popular. If you look at how different generations in a print or digital communications shop approach document re-engineering or enhancements, the younger members of the industry often opt for a visual interface while others prefer to know the command line process, the x and y coordinates and the specific code for each font or resource. These differences in how we work could be an issue moving forward and there is an argument to say that transitioning to a more visual interface not only helps your shop to get ready for the up and coming professionals joining the industry, but it can also be a quicker and more productive way of working.
Jonathan: Also, there are changes to our personal, day-to-day lives that have yet to be fully utilized to improve how we work. We all expect to enjoy a more immediate and a generally more connected way of life through our smart phones and various other digital devices. This increased access to timely and comprehensive information can, and should, be applied to our workflows as well. Communications service providers should think about the effect it would have on their business if they could have online, remote visibility across their operations. We’ve seen the benefits of a more accessible, remote way of working this year especially, but moving forward, I think businesses know there are big advantages to being off site and still knowing what is happening on the production line, especially if there are any issues that need your immediate attention.
Why should people attend Xplor20 and hear more from Solimar Systems during the event?
Mary Ann: Xplor always proves to be a great platform for education and knowledge sharing and this year promises to be no different. Being virtual, even more companies can access this great event, connect with us and hear more about the ways in which they can improve their workflow to maximize productivity and profitability.
To hear more about on these topics, please register for Xplor20 and the Solimar Systems’ sessions during this event:
Jonathan Malone-McGrew - Your Shop Is NOT Connected Like Your Personal Life - September 29, 12:00-12:50 EDT
Mary Ann Rowan - When Will Your Print Workers Require a GUI to be Productive? - October 6, 12:00-12:50 EDT
Dan Adler – The Dangers and Pitfalls of not being able to WALK your WORKFLOW - October 8, 10:30-11:20 EDT