Better Data, Better Resource Planning: How an MIS Empowers Accurate Planning

Duncan Ellis | August 11, 2022

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Imagine a commercial airline pilot taking off for an international flight without checking fuel levels, the state of the lavatories, or even whether the entire crew has boarded the aircraft. 

This could virtually never happen in the airline industry—in part because resource planning is built into the industry at a near molecular level. Redundant safety measures and checklists ensure that every airplane is properly outfitted before being cleared for takeoff.

Even the current airport chaos we’re seeing is connected to resource planning: airlines are short on labor, and it’s affecting their ability to deliver quality on-time service.

Resource planning in the print world is vitally important, too. Often, it’s the difference between on-time delivery and mounting order backlogs.

In today’s post I’d like to show you how Avanti Slingshot Print MIS empowers highly accurate resource planning in the commercial print industry. Let’s get started with a review of the types of resources involved.

Resource Planning in Printing

Like just about any industry, the print industry relies on various resource categories: labor costs, fixed costs, and variable costs.

Labor: A widespread challenge in this industry, more so than others facing the broader hiring shortage. Print veterans are retiring and taking their knowledge with them. Attracting new talent to the field, which can be hands-on and at times messy, is a challenge.

Fixed Costs: These costs are the ones that don’t change or fluctuate too often (at least, not significantly or often) over time. Most of the non-consumable contents of your building, including the commercial equipment that fills the shop floor, are fixed costs. So is the building itself and associated real estate costs.

Variable Costs: These are the consumable products and inputs you use and reorder: paper, ink, and substrates are the most significant. Prices for these items fluctuate and may vary wildly, even becoming unavailable such as the current paper crisis, over time.

Why does understanding these costs matter for your print businesses? Because all three types of costs must be factored into every single job. You need accurate resource or cost data, for two reasons: (1) for producing accurate estimates or quotes and (2) so you’ll never be caught without the resources necessary to complete a job.

Benefits of Avanti Slingshot for Resource Planning

So how does Avanti Slingshot improve the resource planning process for commercial printers? Let’s look together at four ways.

Resource planning

First, Avanti Slingshot helps with variable resource planning. Before scheduling any job, a printer needs to know whether they’ll be able to complete the job with the consumable materials they have on hand.

Do they have enough paper? Enough ink? What about other substrates, if the job calls for them?

Avanti Slingshot Print MIS tracks inventory levels for all of these elements and triggers reminders for ordering, giving printers the ability to always have the needed materials on hand at the right time.

The same goes for historical trends. There’s always a holiday bump in the US, but how much extra will be needed? Is there historical data that can inform current resource planning? 

With a robust MIS, printers can access historical data, empowering better and more accurate decision-making.

Capacity planning 

Next is capacity planning. Which systems are available when you need to do the job? What if all the machines are busy or errors occur? Printers can’t (well, shouldn’t) promise delivery that isn’t actually possible. Setting realistic timelines requires knowing both the overall capacity and the availability schedule of each machine.

Tracking capacities at this level provides the ability to plan and schedule throughput accurately.

Staffing level planning

It’s no secret that the print industry is struggling with staffing. But dealing with staffing shortages is made even worse when a printer doesn’t have an understanding of how many people are needed for a given shift or season. If your labor is a limited resource, spending it in the right places is crucial.

Automation removes unnecessary touch points and manual intervention.

Better data means better staffing and scheduling.

Customer satisfaction

The ultimate benefit of implementing a system such as Avanti Slingshot is customer satisfaction. With our powerful MIS, everything funnels through a centralized system that uses automation to improve customer satisfaction by reducing manual touchpoints and errors.

Better resource and capacity planning, better historical data, and fewer errors. That’s the power of Avanti Slingshot.

Reach out to our team for a free workflow evaluation. Let us show you how many manual touchpoints our systems will eliminate.