Choosing the right vendor for your production printing software needs can be a challenge. In fact, it’s generally not as simple as selecting a “vendor”. Even if you are considering changing out one component of your production process, the chances are very high that other equipment and software is in place. One of the most critical goals of putting together a workflow is that all of the pieces play well together, so selecting technology that is capable of being integrated with other systems and working with multiple vendors that will cooperate in creating an end-to-end workflow is of paramount importance.
Here at Crawford Technologies we’ve participated in a range of processes for vendor selection. Of course the method and factors that determine a final decision will be specific to each organization and to the challenges they face and the goals they have defined. But in looking at a few real-life customer situations, we can see several methodologies that we feel have been particularly effective. In today’s post we’ll take a look at these.
Software Before Hardware
The growth in production color inkjet equipment has been a big story in the output space for a number of years. And for good reason! Reliable quality, the expansion of supported substrates, and impressive speed and capacity is compelling, particularly when combined with lower costs.
However, an automated inkjet friendly workflow is essential for leveraging the capabilities of a new press and for achieving the highest degree of efficiency. A workflow that might have worked for cut sheet or roll fed black and white presses will not give the same results with production inkjet.
A couple of years ago a service provider in the Midwest U.S. began to evaluate inkjet presses. They knew that workflow would be a key component of their success and profitability, and identified specific functionality that they would need. They purchased and implemented PRO Inkjet Express before deciding on a press vendor and took advantage of features within the software to aid in making a decision on the press and to gain buy-in from their customers. Once their new presses were installed, they were able to quickly migrate their work to the new workflow, allowing them to be immediately productive and realize ROI on their hardware investment. You can read more about this successful customer here.
Be Specific – and Measure
Many organizations put together “wish lists” of everything they’re looking for when choosing a vendor. Although defining existing problems and challenges and developing a list of what features are needed to meet business objectives is understandable, many times these long and sometimes contradictory lists lead to an endless cycle of review and confusion. Defining high level priorities is a good start, and being specific, with real facts and benchmarks goes a long way in effectively communicating with different vendors, and in ultimately making a good decision.
One of our existing customers came to us fairly recently because they were having difficulties with some of the PDF files they received from their customers. Although they used an off the shelf software product to normalize these PDFs, the results were not good, and some PDF files took way too long to process. In one case, it took 7 hours to process a PDF – creating a production bottleneck, and putting customer SLA’s at risk.
After assessing and testing their files, we recommended that they add several components to their current production environment to optimize and enhance their PDFs. After installing a proof of concept, and validating that the 7 hour file could now be processed in 20 minutes, they were able to easily implement these options, allowing them to dramatically increase their productivity. Take a look here to learn more about the CrawfordTech solutions they took advantage of.
Content Critical, a service provider transitioning to inkjet equipment, had already implemented other solutions to automate their production process. When they decided to work with Canon to purchase new presses, one of their main goals was to maximize efficiencies without disrupting their existing workflow. Achieving these aims required that their presses, PRISMA production workflow solution, finishing equipment, and postal optimization software work together seamlessly while supporting a customer web portal that was already in place for review and approval. They turned to Canon partner CrawfordTech, knowing that the two companies would work with other vendors to ensure that the entire system would function correctly. This cooperative effort resulted in an end-to-end workflow implemented in only two weeks. You can read more about Content Critical here.
There are many other important considerations and methods that can be followed to ensure that your vendor selection is effective, but we hope these insights and stories help you the next time you look at software options.