Easing the Transition to a New Print Estimating Program

Acknowledging the need to switch to a different print estimating system is hard. You have invested a lot of time, energy, and resources in your current system. And even though that print estimating system is now causing friction in your fast-moving business, it’s painful to think about starting the whole process over again with a different vendor.

How can you be sure that migrating your print estimating processes to a new platform will be more successful the second time around?

Switching from an old print estimating system to a newer one can be easier than you think – especially if you are moving to a cloud-based system. A cloud-based system isn’t locked into an old format and can be continually refined to meet the needs of its users.

These steps can make the changeover go smoothly:

Have a clear strategy and vision for success.

Write down the most important reasons for automating your estimating and order management processes. Make sure your employees understand that vision and why it’s time to move to a different system.

Whether it’s print technology or estimating software, when your company outgrows an outdated system, it’s time to try something different.

Analyze what went wrong with your first implementation.

Was it something you or your employees did (or failed to do)? Were you dazzled by software that promised to deliver far more features than you might actually need?

Or did the software vendor fall behind in developing features that you needed to succeed in the fast-changing graphics market?

Ask your employees why they thought the first implementation of print estimating software didn’t work out. (Some of their insights might surprise you!)

Try to identify at least three things that your team could have done better and three things your software vendor could have done better. Devise some strategies for avoiding those mistakes in your second go-round.

Let your new software vendor know what you expect to achieve with the new system.

When you clearly articulate what went wrong with your first implementation, your software vendor can help you avoid those errors with your new Print MIS system. Your print-estimating software provider can suggest practices that other companies have used to get their systems up and running successfully.

A software provider who has worked closely with all types and sizes of printing, sign, and graphics businesses can advise you if your company has overlooked some major costs. Or, your provider could suggest software features that can help you reduce your amount of wasted materials.Be open to new ways of working online. An experienced software team (such as Ordant’s) can show why an old-fashioned tab-based navigation system may be slowing down the speed at which you can produce and deliver estimates.

Manage the project in a professional, organized manner.

Establish a timeline for completion and see that it is being followed. Assign one project lead from your company to talk to one person from the vendor side. Implementation projects get derailed when multiple people from the printing business give directions to multiple people from the vendor’s firm. Ask your employees to send suggestions or concerns about the implementation to your firm’s project leader.

Consider implementing the new program in stages. Check that each stage is accurately completed before moving on to the next stage. If you reach stage 3 and find out that data entered during stage 1 was flawed, you might have to redo everything.

Update and refine your cost data.

You don’t have to start from scratch when migrating to a new system. Your customer and vendor contact data, cost information, and pricing formulas can all be imported into the new system. But you can use the changeover process as an opportunity to make sure your data is clean and accurate.

You may choose to further refine or customize some pricing formulas to better reflect the pricing practices for your most profitable jobs. (For example, you may be able to charge higher rates for specialty items that competitors in your area can’t handle.) Your new software vendor will give you some guidance about how to supply the data they need to set up your system. Take some time to understand how the data will be mapped into your new system.

Make the switch on a weekend evening during a slow month.

Timing is key to a smooth transition. Schedule the switchover during your company’s off-hours so you can have time to test the new features and fix glitches.

Get employees involved in testing and troubleshooting the new platform. Ask them to help you identify any glitches or areas for improvement. Communicate a “Plan B” so your team knows how to temporarily handle any issues that may arise until the kinks in the new system are resolved. You may need to operate both systems temporarily until all modules of the new system are ready to run, all users are trained, and data from the new system is synced with QuickBooks. If you have managed the project properly, this transition period should be brief.

Use a checklist to test that the most important features are working properly.

After your new system goes live, test how well it can print invoices, job tickets, and purchase orders. Do all of the customized sections work properly? If you are using an integrated web-to-print module, check out the appearance of the storefronts as your customers will view them. Submit sample orders for 10 or 20 different products through the storefronts as if you were a customer. Does the information flow correctly into your order management system?

Start moving a few customers and projects over to the new system and see how it works. As you continue to add existing and new customers to the system, everyone will gradually start to see the advantages of the new system. Schedule a follow-up training session one week after launch to address any questions that have come up. In most cases, these questions can be easily resolved and you will be impressed by how much easier and faster your new estimating system is. You may wonder why you waited so long to make the switch.

Final Thoughts

Many print-service providers have successfully migrated from an old job estimating platform to a new one. In the fast-changing world of printing and graphics, some first-generation Print MIS systems are too slow, too complicated, or inadequate for the diverse mix of services found in today’s most profitable printing firms. The IT professionals who manage cloud-based Print MIS systems have helped many different companies work through the glitches that occur with any changeover to a new platform. They can help your company ease the transition too.

Before switching to a new Print MIS program, check out Ordant software for offset, screen, label, wide-format, and digital printing. Our cloud-based software is easy-to- use, fast, flexible, customizable, and upgradable. Plus, it connects seamlessly with our own web-to- print software module. Visit Ordant.com to request a free demo or contact us at sales@ordant.com.

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