What a year of workflow wizardry! We started the year advising everyone to take a close look at their production shop floor to determine where the bottlenecks were holding up the natural flow of work. Many of you did just that and shared stories of finding things that could be better.
For many of you the review was a voyage of discovery as you found old software products still installed that you were paying for but were not using in production. Instant savings when you solved that problem! For others the discovery was that you had excellent software tools installed, but the versions were back level and you were missing out on features that could make your work flow more smoothly.
Many of you reached out to your software vendors and brought yourselves up to date! And still others of you discovered that your lack of software tools was holding you back, so you did the due diligence and brought new solutions into your business. Congratulations to all of you who embarked on the journey and learned to become better workflow wizards!
While many took the journey, some of you are still waiting. Caution is important in any workflow decision, but we know that sometimes caution is the excuse for not taking that first step to wonderful workflow wizardry. If you are looking back on 2017 and you have not made a substantial change to your workflow this is a great time to set a plan for 2018. It is never too late to make fine adjustments or major changes to the processes and tools that directly impact the margins on the work you deliver.
Here are five quick year-end steps to set your shop up for even more success in 2018:
- Have a staff lunch break and air out the challenges everyone faces in getting work out the door.
The goal isn’t finger-pointing, but requirements gathering. What is working well, and what is not? Is there one job that everyone hates to work on? Is there one job that is always late out the door? Is there one job that arrives regularly with incorrect specifications? Make a list and brainstorm with the group on solutions. Make it a goal to get at least one of those jobs off the list by the end of January!
- Talk to your current hardware and software vendors about your workflow.
They see everything, good and bad, around the world. They may have an idea or two that can make your jobs move more quickly through production. Don’t be afraid to show them the things that are not working because they may have seen the same problem and know how to move towards a solution!
- Save a bit of cash! Have the accounting team check all of the software invoices.
Why pay for what you aren’t using? One shop I saw was paying more than $1000 a month for software subscriptions on tools that had stopped used two years earlier. That $12000 over the year! Imagine what you could do with that!
- Make a bit of cash! Have the production team review all of the hardware.
Is there an old Compugraphic typesetter hiding in a corner? An old cutter being used as a work table? Are their inserters, folders, gluers or wrappers covered in dust because you’ve moved to more efficient solutions? If you have older equipment there is a resale market! Consider selling off assets that are taking up space and gathering dust. You’ll open up your floor space and add some cash to the coffers!
- Ask your clients what else they need!
As you are winding down the year and touching base with your clients, make a part of the conversation about their requirements for 2018. Have they thought about new formats? New communication ideas? Ask what they would do if the sky was the limit. Are they interested in more posters and banners, or adding Augmented Reality to their calendars and marketing collateral? Would they be interested in different folding options or die cutting options? Gather their requirements and dreams and you can develop your own wish list.
Let me know how your to-do list works out! For more on how to keep your work flowing, check out the other blogs in this series and stop by my Workflow Blog for the step by step guide on how to evaluate the workflow you have! Happy Holidays!
Pat McGrew is the Director and Evangelist for the Production Workflow Service at KeyPoint Intelligence/InfoTrends. As an analyst and industry educator, Pat works with InfoTrends customers and their 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 8 industry books, editor of A Guide to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge, and regular writer in the industry trade press, Pat won the 2014 #GirlsWhoPrint Girlie Award for dedication to education and communication in the industry, and the 2016 Brian Platte Lifetime Achievement Award from Xplor International. Find Pat on Twitter @PatMcGrew and on LinkedIn.