To Automate, You Must Face the Fear of Change
Most printers know that increasing automation is the key to improving profitability, so why aren’t more of them investing in it? Fear of change. It was to address this fear that the Print Media Centr held the session “Automated Print Shop: Overcoming the Fear Factor.”
“Printers don’t know what is going to happen,” said The Print Media Centr’s Deborah Corn, who moderated the panel. “They don’t know how long it is going to take. They don’t know if it will be better than what they are currently doing. They are fine with the way things are because they aren’t willing to tackle the hurdle of overcoming change.”
But growth doesn’t occur without change, so Corn put tough questions to a panel of industry workflow automation vendors. Among the takeaways from the session:
1. Acknowledge the fear and create a plan.
“Everybody has a horror story,” noted Mick Rowen, Director of PrintIQ. “We try to make it easy as possible, but we don’t try to make it as if the fear doesn’t exist.” To address customers’ fears, PrintIQ creates a 12-week implementation plan for each customer. Because the plan is highly structured, customers can have a high level of comfort in where things are, what is coming next, and that everything is on track.
2. Have someone tasked with moving things along and staying on schedule.
Ideally, this should be someone who takes ownership of the project and is ultimately responsible for its success or failure.
3. Get to know your specialist.
Workflow vendors assign specialists to work with you during the implementation, so get to know them. Avanti experts, for example, each have an average 25 years experience in the printing industry. You cannot successfully implement a solution without trust.
4. Start with free apps that develop comfort in the process.
HP offers a variety of free mobile apps for important functions, such as giving you visibility into your shop even when you aren’t on location. “It’s as easy as going to iTunes or the Google Play store and downloading the app and installing it,” said Bob Raus, Category Manager, Workflow and Partner Programs at HP. He noted that HP offers seven free apps printers can take advantage of right now, whether they are HP customers or not. “You don’t have to bite off the elephant all at once.”
5. If you want more flexibility in the solution, just ask.
Many printers are fearful that they will get locked into a workflow that doesn’t perfectly match their needs. The panel assured the audience that most solutions are highly customizable and that workflow vendors generally respond to customers’ suggestions for improvements in the system, especially when they benefit the larger customer base.
In the end, panelists emphasized that the companies that benefit the most from automation are those who are willing to accept change. “Trust your experts, work with a stable internal team, and trust that, in the end, your vendor has your back,” said Lisa Weese, Senior Manager, Product Marketing for Production Print Solutions at Canon Solutions America. “Take a deep breath. In the end, it’s going to be okay!"