The last three 2020 quarterly TIPS newsletters have focused on building a data-driven operation. This quarter, Keypoint Intelligence - InfoTrends’ Ryan McAbee, Director, Print Production Workflow kicks off our 2021 theme about how to become a "smart print shop" with three tips to take the most important step in your journey to improve efficiency and reduce production costs. Now more than ever, it matters, but how do you prepare, what is a smart print shop and where do you start? Read on for the surprise (spoiler: don't start with automation).
Ryan McAbee
Keypoint Intelligence / InfoTrends
Many of RSA's customers turn to us to increase efficiency and reduce costs/ save money. As a companion to the tips below, we suggest you also download our "9AM Workflow Quiz" Keypoint Intelligence- InfoTrends white paper to help you assess your production print workflow and identify improvements.

Until next time,
Elisha Kasinskas 
Marketing Director 
Rochester Software Associates, Inc 
The Most Important Step to Become a Smart Print Shop
This year has taught us to be resourceful and resilient when it comes to running a print shop! In many ways, the global reaction to the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation—using digital technologies to redefine existing business processes and customer experiences. The need to order print online or work remotely are just a couple of examples. The coming decade will usher in the age of the smart print shop, a shop that combines advanced technologies, automated processes based on data and systems, and effective manufacturing processes to fully optimize print production. The most important step to take now on your path to building a smart print shop is to focus on your processes – the tasks required from the initial customer request through delivery of the order.

It is time to lean into becoming a smart print shop; 57% of North American printers want to improve efficiency and reduce costs as part of their five-year strategy. However, automation is not the place to start. Automation will only increase production problems if you have not streamlined and optimized your processes. Are you doing the right thing at the right point with the right people and tools? The only definitive way to answer this is to audit and document your current workflows.
Three tips for locking in your processes before integrating and automating in 2021:
1.  Map Your Workflow

Remember paper maps? They show roads, landmarks, and destinations. More importantly they provide the visual for how we get from point A to point B. Mapping your workflow is the visual needed to transform into a smart print shop and redefine your processes that have likely not kept pace over the years. You must first identify your current workflow processes for each of your print applications. Literally walk your workflow to document the steps from the point a customer requests an order until it is delivered, then document the people, tasks, and tools used.
2. Validate Every Process

Now validate each process by asking the following questions (a cross-functional team with members from each department is ideal for validation):

  • Is this step/task necessary?
  • Are the right people performing the task?
  • Does staff have the right tools to adequately perform the task?
  • Is this task in the right order in comparison to the one before and after?
  • Can this task be automated to remove the human touch?
3. Review and Redefine Your Workflow Processes

A comprehensive, documented review of your processes will be eye opening. There will be lingering processes because of excuses that “we have always done it that way,” which will no longer be necessary. Mismatches between the right staff, based on their skillset and compensation level, doing the right tasks will appear. The right tool for the job may not be available, be underused, or be circumvented for another. All these issues must be corrected before you implement automation. If not, automation simply increases and amplifies the problems.
Review and lock your processes in now! Starting next year, each quarter we will introduce ways to enable and automate your smart print shop by empowering your customers virtually, optimizing your way to a smarter print shop, and stepping up the value of your variable data printing (VDP).  

Contact RSA for additional tips about how to become a smart print shop.
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Rochester Software Associates, Inc.