The inputs required for any commercial print system to succeed are complex, with numerous inputs and data that need to be recorded accurately and formatted properly for a job to print successfully. Because of this, the order intake process is a crucial component of any print workflow.
Yet many printers — 35 percent or more, based on internal research commissioned by Ricoh Software — still rely on email for order intake. This is a huge limiting factor for printers, especially when there’s an alternative available that can transform workflows, reduce manual work and errors, and improve job quality, consistency, and accuracy.
The solution is an automated, integrated workflow driven by a management information system, or MIS.
This week we’re showing you why email-based order intake is hurting your commercial print operation, and how switching to a robust MIS transforms your job submission process and improves everything downstream, ultimately leading to a successful output.
The Problems with Email-Based Order Intake
Email-based order intake used to be a valuable solution: 20 years ago, email certainly beat decoding customers’ messy handwriting off paper forms and post-it notes! But email is far from a perfect system, and compared to workflow intake solutions like Avanti® Slingshot, email suffers from numerous problems.
First, if orders are arriving in an email inbox, somebody has to manage that inbox. What happens when that person goes on vacation, takes a few sick days- or even just takes a lunch?
At best, orders sit idle and unprocessed. At worst, they get lost or disappear entirely.
That leads to the second problem with email-based order intake: emails just aren’t reliable. They get missed, forwarded to the wrong people, crucial personnel get left off messages, attachments get dropped, and so forth.
Email also suffers from versioning issues: every person who makes a change to an emailed file creates a new copy that is only slightly different. It’s painfully easy to pull the wrong copy, which can ruin a job completely.
Worst of all, email workflows don’t contain any mechanism or process to ensure customers supply the right data the first time or notifications of any changes. You’re left chasing down details, entering them manually, or making educated guesses.
Printers need a standardized process that is repeatable and scalable, and email isn’t it. The best practice in the industry is integrating order details directly from a secure web-to-print system (W2P) into an automated MIS.
True, new systems such as these can seem disruptive at the outset, and they are not free. But their cost is just a fraction of the cost of not automating manual touchpoints in the print workflow. Correcting unnecessary manual errors runs a typical printer around $75,000 every year based on an independent industry survey with printers averaging 30 jobs at a time.
Transitioning your print operation to an MIS means gaining a centralized system of record that ensures the right job criteria and specifications are captured within a secure collaborative environment.
The result? You get cleaner data coming into the system with fewer manual corrections. This results in a simpler stakeholder approval process, with no more moving data manually from field to field, correcting errors or missing details altogether.
Avanti Slingshot Eliminates Manual Touchpoints, Increases Accuracy
In any print workflow, every manual touchpoint is a bottleneck that carries operational cost and risk. Success stems from removing as many as possible, while also creating a collaborative environment where everyone can access their data 24/7, ridding the process of manual and practice of rekeying errors.
Accurate, consistent data entry is a massive benefit printers enjoy when transitioning to Avanti Slingshot, along with the ability to integrate other workflow processes seamlessly such as an W2P system.
This integration touches on numerous additional aspects of each print job, including:
- Design and job collaboration
- Catalog management
- Estimating and job management
- Scheduling and fulfillment
- Inventory management
These elements all work together to help you provide a quality output that is on time and on spec.
Most importantly, Avanti Slingshot creates an environment that can handle the complexity that comes with modern print projects—using straightforward interfaces that are easy to use, often with templates. In this way, Avanti reduces or removes outsourcing costs and costly versioning errors.
Other Advantages of Avanti Slingshot
We’ve only scratched the surface of what Avanti Slingshot is capable of. When you're ready, we can discuss how each of the following can enhance your print business including:
- Automatic processing
- Simplistic catalog re-ordering— no rekeying needed
- Allows for late-stage changes in complex jobs
- Integrates with your W2P system and other tools, providing a secure online collaboration system
- Instant alerts and notifications, increasing stakeholder communications and customer satisfaction
Most importantly, the automated workflows in Avanti® Slingshot can free up your team. Reassign employees to more profitable or strategic tasks rather than sit there deciphering a post-it or an unclear email.
Avanti Slingshot is simply transformational for commercial and in-plant printers, especially those still relying on email for order intake. Contact us to learn more about Avanti Slingshot and how this powerful MIS can integrate with your toolkit, optimizing your print ecosystem. Don’t let perceived or assumed costs stop you from reaching out for a free workflow evaluation: the cost of not having an integrated system of record may be higher than you realize.