Continuing our adventure through the wilds of workflow, the next stop is that messy process of codifying the order and getting it on board so that it can move almost seamlessly through your production workflow. We look at this process as part of Job Entry and Management when we are working on our forecasts. It is an area that is full of innovation as new cloud-based delivery solutions and subscription models for payment are occupying a bigger footprint in market offerings.
Let’s start with how you are taking your orders. You may have salespeople carrying an order book, a web-to-print storefront, sets of standing orders, or a walk-up counter. In fact, you may have all these options and more. The question is, are you capturing the same information in the same manner regardless of which sales method brings the job to you? In our audits we often see that the web-to-print site is capturing information in one way, the sales team members each build their orders in their own way, and one-off or walk-up orders use a different form.
Your assignment is to find all the ways a job comes into the shop and check for what information is captured. And, if you can, take it one step farther and see if you can match the method of capturing the order against which jobs tend to have issues as they move to onboarding and prepress. Are job specifications captured in the same way? Is contact information always captured? What about approval requirements? Your best practice is to look at all of the ways you capture information and create one, normalized approach that ensures consistency no matter how the job comes to you.
Once you take the order, it is time to bring the job in to execute the order. Do you have a consistent process for accepting job files? Do you accept only print-ready files, or do you accept assets that must be assembled into a print-ready file? Do you maintain Content Management or Digital Asset Management systems that hold client content? How do you ticket the job? How is job information transferred to accounting for invoicing and payment? Where is the client approval process established? These are only some of the questions we ask when looking at job onboarding processes.
Too many questions to start with, start with a simple onboarding checklist that helps everyone involved ensure that everything needed to produce the job is determined before work starts. Start with the basics:
- All client information, including contact phone numbers and email addresses for billing, job information, press check/creative and final sign off.
- Job estimation, quote and agreed pricing, with substrate and finishing.
- Press check and proof requirements.
- Delivery time frame and method.
This will get you started on the road to best practices in Order Entry and Onboarding.
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. Join Pat and co-host Kevin Craine as they tackle the question Is Print Dead? on their podcast!