March 28, 2012

5 reasons you should implement an ADF, and why it has taken until now to be able to afford it.

The Automated Document Factory, also known simply as an ADF, is an architecture developed by Gartner to address the unique problems encountered in high volume document production environments. While Gartner’s ADF 2.0 architecture was especially developed for printing and mailing operations, it is not limited to that use. 

Many enterprises use the ADF architecture to provide the basis for document production operations, such as transaction printing (bills, policies, etc.) and marketing collateral. ADF uses long established factory-like production techniques and applies them to document manufacturing to ensure lower costs, higher quality, integrity and process controls.

Traditionally, however, ADF solutions have been expensive to implement, putting them out of reach for many medium-to-large size print service providers. But the tide is changing – solutions are now available that bring ADF to the masses.

So, with that in mind, here are five reasons you should implement an ADF right now.

1. ADFs open up new revenue streams

Print service providers can increase their revenues and profits by producing and delivering high-volume transactional output, but often medium-sized print firms shy away from this opportunity. The ADF strategy provides these companies with the framework for developing and implementing the architectures and tools necessary for 21st-century customer communications, helping to open up these new revenue streams for the business.

In the past, medium-sized printing businesses have stayed away from ADF implementation due to the high costs, but with innovative tools like CrawfordTech’s PRO Production Manager coming to market at up to 10 times less than other similar tools, ADF solutions are now finally within the reach of the majority of print service providers.

2. ADF offers a foundation for diversity

Printing companies with an ADF in place are able to smoothly compile, print, prepare, ship and analyze a wide range of marketing and transactional communications including CRM-based printing and Transpromo work (the practice of adding promotional messaging to transactional documents).

The ADF provides not only for the incorporation of this diversity, but still provides a platform for tracking and reporting across the production environment, something that without an ADF would make such diversity difficult to manage.

3. ADF isn't just about document production

Madison Advisors have noted at length that the evolving ADF handles more than just document production. “ADF now includes data management, content management, content integration, color management and document composition functions previously found upstream.”

In addition, ADF systems are now handling post-composition changes to documents such as incorporating IMb barcodes for the USPS to optimize mailing discounts and other similar postal barcode solutions worldwide. CrawfordTech’s PRO Mail Tracker is a good example of how a specific solution can be rolled into an ADF in a modular fashion.

4. ADF gives you one view of your world

With an ADF, you get a single point of control to better track and access every document. You can meet your service level agreements and conform with the ever-changing world of compliance and regulatory approval. You'll also gain a better view of operator performance.

CrawfordTech’s PRO Production Manager, for example, can track the entire process from end-to-end, reducing operational errors and providing robust logging and reporting across the production environment.

5. ADF helps you to cut costs

Want to optimize your output so that you gain maximum postage discounts, or send output to a Digital Mailbox Service (DMS)? An ADF can offer the framework, data and workflow to achieve this. Because an ADF allows you to determine what's working in your operation and what should be improved, you can cut costs and increase discounts right across your operation.

CrawfordTech’s PRO Production Manager further keeps costs down by providing an integrated platform for an ADF. PRO Production Manager can connect the existing hardware and software tools found in most transactional printing environments, which means that you can implement an ADF with a higher level of flexibility at a lower cost than ever before.

Find out more about PRO Production Manager and how CrawfordTech are making the Automated Document Factory affordable. We believe in a future where every print service provider can implement an ADF and enjoy the benefits.