One way to measure the return on investment in a Print MIS to create workflow maps. Create workflow maps before installing the management information system (MIS) and after you have used it for a few months. The differences in the two workflows can substantiate your Print MIS benefits by showing how much time (and money) your shop is saving.
A workflow map is a diagram of all steps involved in creating a specific product. It enables you to spot inefficiencies, bottlenecks, redundancies, and workarounds in your workflow. It can also give you a clear picture of ways to trim costs associated with making each product..
Mapping an actual workflow is different than mapping a perceived workflow or ideal workflow.
The process of diagramming your actual workflow helps make “invisible” actions visible.
The processing steps your employees currently use might be substantially different from the ideal workflow originally set up.
Sometimes employees change the workflow because of circumstances such as a tight deadline, an equipment breakdown, or a customer complaint. If one-time changes in the workflow become entrenched habits, your shop’s overall productivity or quality might suffer
A workflow map will also reveal duplication of effort, such as the re-keying of customer, job, or shipping data as the project moves from sales to prepress to printing, finishing, and shipping.
When studying a workflow map, you might be surprised to see how many different employees touch each job as it moves throughout the shop. Workflow automation is designed to reduce these “touchpoints.”
Planning Your Print MIS
If you establish workflow maps for each product before installing a Print MIS you can identify which workflow steps must continue to be performed by employees, which steps can be automated by Print MIS software, and which steps can be eliminated.
A workflow map can also help you identify where your employees waste the most time. Do they spend far too long preparing quotes for short-run, low-margin jobs? Do they spend hours each week reminding clients they must approve a proof before the job can continue?
Diagnosing trouble-spots in your workflow before you start evaluating Print MIS programs can ensure that you’ll find a program that can remedy them.
Measuring the Benefits
Don’t expect to measure the Print MIS benefits the first week your system is up and running. It may take a month or two to tweak your system and get all employees onboard with using it.
When you do remap your workflow for each product, determine how many human touchpoints the Print MIS has eliminated. Then, estimate how much time is being saved on a typical job and calculate how much money this saves each month. For instance, if your new workflow map shows that it takes 3 fewer steps and 45 minutes less to process each benner order, you should realize some significant savings.
If the re-mapped workflow still identifies bottlenecks, brainstorm with your employees about ways to eliminate them.
For instance, if your customer-service team still spends a lot of time answering routine questions, post some simple educational tip sheets on your website. That will reduce the amount of time each customer service rep must spend answering the same question again and again. It will also ensure that each customer is getting the same type of information and advice.
A Process of Continuous Improvement
If you get into the habit of workflow mapping, you and your employees can make better informed decisions.
As your shop gains more time and the capacity to handle more orders, you can either strive to sell more of your most profitable work or diversify into new types of products.
Each new product will have its own workflow that will need to be tested and tweaked. And as your volume of work grows, the process of mapping multiple workflows might become more complicated. At some point you may need faster equipment with greater levels of workflow automation.
Keep your employees involved in every effort to improve your workflows. Employees who don’t understand why continuous important matters may instinctively react negatively to any attempts to streamline their work.
You also don’t want employees to feel like cogs in a rigid system in which they feel like they are constantly being watched.
Instead, reward employees for helping streamline the workflow. Remind them if they can spend less time doing tedious, repetitive tasks, they will have more time to build genuine relationships with customers, learn new skills, or research and create new types of products.
If your workflow map shows your shop needs to reduce the steps involved in providing quotes, processing orders, getting proofs approved, or tracking job status, visit www.ordant.com and schedule a demo of our highly rated Print MIS program. You will be amazed at how easy it can be to make some fast and measurable improvements to your print shop workflow.