Is It Time for a Workflow Intervention?
As we come to the last few items in the Workflow Quiz, it is time for some of the heavy lifting that comes with optimizing and right sizing tasks and processes in the workflow. Not everyone will be happy with the process because it uncovers their pet projects and sometimes lead to power plays that start with “this is how we have always done this job” and end with annoyed team members. Despite all of those risks, it is time to look at all of those places where it takes some type of manual intervention to get a job from start to finish.
Let’s start at the beginning. When you take on a job from a new customer, how much of the job setup requires a person talking to a person or a person talking with a group of people to get all of the specifications identified and coded into the system? Are there manual checklists sitting on a service representative’s desk in addition to what is in the system? Sticky notes on monitors in prepress and account management that detail what is missing in the job notes? If so, you have opportunities to optimize because all of those notes are taking time to manage!
When a job is accepted for production and moves into all of the steps that comprise prepress and makeready in your shop, how many jobs does the prepress supervisor handle personally to avoid problems? How many jobs require phone calls back to the customer everytime they run? They might come in with a different paper specified from normal, or odd color settings that don’t match previous runs of the job. Sometimes they come in with finishing specifications that don’t match previous runs. Does your shop make the phone call to make sure the customer submitted what was intended or does your shop decide that whatever came in through the on-boarding process is what the customer wanted? In either case, you have room for optimizing the process!
Once the job gets to the press do you have jobs that require customer approval form a press proof? Digital print jobs that require a hard copy proof can sometimes be slotted in between production runs, but that takes time, effort and someone handling that proof to get it back to the customer. This could be a good time to look at automated approval management systems and work on agreements with customers to avoid as many hard copy proof requirements as possible.
When your jobs move into finishing, how many jobs still have sticky notes or hand written job forms that travel with the job? Special handling instructions? Guidelines for what the customer finds acceptable? Every item that sits on a checklist to be manually completed takes time to complete and increases the risk of making a mistake.
If you are nodding your head as you read through these items (and it just sweeps the surface of things that we see in workflows), it is time for an intervention! Come back next time when we talk about scalability!
Pat McGrew, M-EDP, CMP is the Director and Evangelist for the Production Workflow Service at InfoTrends. As an analyst and industry educator, McGrew works with InfoTrends customers and its clients to promote workflow effectiveness. She also has a background in data-driven customer communication, and production printing with offset, inkjet, and toner. Co-author of eight industry books, editor of "A Guide to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge," and regular writer in the industry trade press, McGrew won the 2014 #GirlsWhoPrint Girlie Award for her dedication to education and communication in the industry, and the 2016 Brian Platte Lifetime Achievement Award from Xplor International. Find Pat on Twitter as @PatMcGrew and LinkedIn.