Graphic Design Software’s Power to Increase Efficiency and Reduce Waste
Before any ink is applied to a substrate and a print job becomes a completed project, a designer is hard at work creating the graphics that will be essential in attracting and engaging the target audience. With the use of a graphic design software solution, this artist can create and edit the graphics and text of the print job and communicate with various stakeholders. Then, once a design is completed and approved, the software solution is called on again to aid the printer in producing the physical work of art.
Often an unsung hero of the print process, graphic design software is at the core of printing, with its ability to maximize the skills of graphic artists and transition them to print. But in addition to its creative capabilities, graphic design software also serves as a solution for increasing production efficiency, reducing waste, and improving color management, among a lengthy list of other benefits. Yet, while this technology is ubiquitous in the print industry, not all PSPs are using it to its full potential.
To understand how print service providers (PSPs) are utilizing their graphic design software solutions and leveraging its advantages, NAPCO Research partnered with Alludo, the parent company of CorelDRAW, a leading graphic design software suite, in conducting a survey among PSPs across the commercial, wide-format, and apparel segments. Two hundred printers participated in the survey, resulting in several key findings about how the industry is utilizing its graphic design software systems. The results and analysis of the survey are now available for download in a free report, available here.
How Software Addresses Inefficiencies
Efficiency in production is among the top challenges print service providers face, especially as customers continually push for quick turnarounds and on-demand production. The need for more efficient production becomes even more challenging to achieve at a time when attracting, recruiting, and retaining labor has proven to be exceptionally difficult, and existing production staff members are aging out of the industry.
However, by using graphic design software, PSPs report increased efficiency as a top advantage. In fact, 83% of respondents stated that increased prepress efficiency is a distinct advantage of their graphic design software. Additionally, one of the areas where PSPs state they struggle with efficiency is in color reproduction. When asked to rate their company’s performance in consistently managing color, only 39% of respondents stated that their company’s performance is excellent, while 41% stated theirs is very good.
Given the importance of color reproduction to brand owners and marketers, excellence should be the expectation among PSPs. Color is also directly correlated to production efficiency, as rerunning jobs due to color inaccuracies takes substantial time and resources, impacting both delivery lead times and costs. Additionally, print customers are becoming increasingly discerning regarding color, and having to reject a print job due to inconsistent color will reflect poorly on the PSP and damage the relationship between the printer and customer.
Design Software’s Waste Reduction Power
Graphic design software’s ability to improve accuracy in print production is also highly beneficial in reducing waste — a top of mind priority for printers due to sourcing challenges and price increases of various substrate materials. Despite the importance of minimizing waste as much as possible, the survey indicates that this is an area where many printers struggle. In fact, only about 25% of respondents strongly agreed that their companies implement and follow through on waste reduction strategies.
When asked to share the strategies they have taken to reduce waste generation, most respondents indicated that they first turn toward internal solutions before making an investment in technology that can help. The top response, with 63% of overall respondents, was staff training to improve accuracy. Meanwhile, 56% stated they have invested in an equipment or hardware solution to reduce their waste generation. Software investment came in third on the list of strategies, with 44% of respondents.
While internal training and investment in equipment is important in keeping a print shop running at its full potential, the power of software should not be overlooked. For example, when asked about the effectiveness of new software investment in improving production efficiency, 93% of respondents stated that it was at least moderately effective, with more than half of respondents (52%) stating it was highly effective.
The Importance of Consistently Updating
While the evidence points to graphic design software’s ability to enhance efficiency and reduce waste, a concerning quantity of survey respondents expressed hesitancy to upgrade their design software. In fact, nearly half of respondents (46%) stated they assess the changes to the software before moving forward with an upgrade.
Respondents that stated they either assess the changes to the software prior to upgrading or that choose not to upgrade at all were asked to share the reasons why they would opt out of an upgrade. The top response, at 59% of respondents, was concern that the upgrades may cause disruptions to their workflow. Meanwhile, 55% of respondents cited the cost of upgrading. Other top responses included that new or upgraded features are not relevant and concern that updates will not be compatible with the company’s other software and/or production equipment.
Concern that software updates may cause workflow disruptions makes sense on the surface, especially if the version currently in use is functioning well and employees are trained on and acclimated to the platform. However, design software systems are largely universal in their integration capabilities and upgraded features often provide increased efficiency. Printers that are not staying on top of their graphic design software upgrades could be putting their companies at risk of missing out on key competitive advantages.
Efficiency, waste reduction, and color management are all essential components of the print process and PSPs should be taking every action possible to maximize their capabilities across all these areas. Graphic design software can be a highly effective and cost-conscious tool that can keep print service providers ahead of the competition. For more about how graphic design software can play a key role in improving print operations, download the FREE full report from NAPCO Research and CorelDRAW.