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Walsworth Publishing : Integrating the Enterprise

August 4, 2009
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WHEN WALSWORTH Publishing set out to find software that would modernize its system and increase the consistency of its printing processes—without eating into its bottom line—little did it know that it was in line for a bonus. 

Not only did the system the company choose achieve efficiencies throughout its commercial printing runs, from sheetfed to webfed to digital, it was also the basis for integrating and updating the entire enterprise.

Walsworth, well-known for its school yearbooks, is also a printer of catalogs, textbooks, magazines and other specialty publications. It was founded in 1937 in Marceline, MO, and still operates there today with 1,250 employees worldwide and more than 650 employees who qualify as Master Printers. 

It has an extensive array of state-of-the-art color web and sheetfed presses, bindery, prepress and mailing equipment. The company’s Commercial Book Div. specializes in high-quality, four-color books, as well as trade books, military publications, and city and county histories.

In 2006, Grant Fritch, Walsworth’s prepress technology manager, was charged with leading the company’s enterprise-wide technology initiative aimed at achieving advances in customer communications, internal workflow and systems integration.

“Integration was high on our list of criteria,” he says. “We wanted the ability to communicate via JDF and XML—something with a standard plug. The capability of integration with our existing and future ERP was really important to us.”

Integrating Operations

When Fritch started doing his research, however, he realized that MIS at Walsworth had been created largely in-house. The result was that every department upgraded (or not), depending on its own needs as opposed to company-wide standards.

As in many businesses, each individual department—and function—had its own priorities, producing gaps in MIS applications that frustrated “big picture” solutions to technology issues. From sales to accounting to production, there had been no fully integrated approach.

So Fritch and his colleagues set out to find a way to apply the “single keystroke” principle that had eluded them thus far: one button that would connect key processes and one button that would also connect key company functions.

They studied systems designed for the printing industry—and even some that weren’t. The challenge? To acquire technology that would work seamlessly as a unit over four locations, 20 presses and 1,200 people, and make the $10 million investment they had made in hardware work even harder. 

 

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