Sometimes it is good to go back to the basics, so let’s start with defining workflow in 2018. It’s a tall order because how you define workflow depends on where you come from in the print world, the jobs you’ve done, and the things you need to manage. Let’s divide the world of workflow in two, and call one business workflow and the other production workflow.
On the business side we’re worried about raw material, like paper and ink. Business Intelligence workflows track material from the loading dock on the way in to the production floor, and then track deliveries. This is where business accounting happens, and where you gather business data to guide strategies about what products you want to sell and at what price.
On the production side we’re worries about the tasks and processes used to move a job from the point where it arrives in the shop for production to the point where it is ready for delivery. The focus is on automation, efficiency, and processes to manage problems when they arise. In some cases the process reaches back to a crossover point with the business workflow when the sales team estimates and quotes the job. The focus, however, is on the production of the job.
To become the smartest workflow wizard, you need to know your business inside and out. The best way to confirm what you know is to walk the workflow through all of its variations. If you do only one type of work this should be easy, but in most shops there are variations in the work that comes in. They may differ by which device you use,, how they are printed and finished, and even how they are packaged for delivery. Your goal is to understand all of the touchpoints.
Once you’ve walked it, make a note of any points along the route that seem to cause slowdowns. It might be issues meeting customer color requirements, challenges in getting customers to approve proofs, or even getting consistent quality. If you have been part of a merger or an acquisition, you may find that there are duplications in processes and software that make it harder to move work through the shop. Whatever you find, make a note.
Now it’s time to find ways to optimize. Over the next few blogs we’ll look at the key areas of workflow: Creative and Composition, Job Entry and Management, and Core Workflow. The goal is to give you pointers to optimization with the best workflow wizardry we have!
Don’t forget to 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!
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.