Cover story: Pegasus transitions to Tharstern MIS


Journey through transition

So how was it for you Wayne? Pegasus CEO Wayne Finkelde shares the experience of replacing the company’s home grown MIS and transitioning to the new Tharstern Primo MIS.

Choosing a supplier for a piece of critical infrastructure is crucial, essentially the future of the business, and in the Pegasus case 220 jobs, depends on getting it right. Any major stuff-ups and the customers have got plenty of other places to go. For CEO Wayne Finkelde and his team the implementation and outcomes of the transition from its own home grown MIS to the Tharstern Primo has been overwhelmingly positive. Finkelde says, “Tharstern were chosen during our supplier assessment period for several reasons, not the least of which was that they came out as the company that was really interested in getting the outcome that Pegasus wanted. We felt they went all the way to really listen to us, to understand us, and by doing that they evidently joined our wavelength, we were both on the same page.

“When you are undertaking a mammoth project like this it is essential that from the start both parties have a clear understanding of each other, trust in each other and confidence in each other. When Tharstern began their investigative stage they asked all the right questions, which gave us that confidence. And the fact that they have 500 printers around the world using their system, some of whom we spoke to, showed it was a tested and proven solution. There was no way that we wanted Pegasus to be an experiment for someone.

“Tharstern also showed they would deliver value for money, they came out well on top of the opposition. They showed they had the support systems that Pegasus required and the people that would deliver what we needed. We felt we could work with them.”

Pegasus is a large complex print business, with its 220 staff and production in offset, labels and digital, as well as other activities such as logistics and warehousing, and a major print management business. It is a big footprint and it requires a proven solution capable of handling our requirements, which included estimating and quoting, job ticketing, shopfloor management, stock control, warehousing, print management, job management, invoicing, dispatch, data collection and on and on. Pegasus needed one system to integrate all aspects of their business, and that is what Tharstern Primo delivered. There are some 94 separate terminals, including the shop floor data collection stations.

Implementation took place in stages over nine months. The project was too large to get up and running in one go, so differing parts were brought online at differing times, with both the new and old systems running alongside each other at various points.

Wayne Finkelde says, “Tharstern understood our requirements and have proved they can do what they said they would. We are already realising significant productivity efficiencies and waste reduction as a result.

“Pleasingly the whole project has kept to budget and to time. Any issues that have arisen have been dealt with professionally. Clear communication has been the cornerstone of the relationship between Pegasus and Tharstern, with the key Tharstern staff Matt and Dylan showing themselves to be capable of both implementing the Tharstern Primo and working efficiently with us.

“We are realising clearly defined benefits already, with faster quotes and estimates, real time data coming directly from the shop floor, better reporting, and job tracking all the way from prepress to dispatch.”

The MIS project initiated more IT investment at Pegasus, with new servers, new cabling, and a new accounting package, Sage 300, recommended by Tharstern. Finkelde says, “If it was not for the regimented and disciplined approach by Tharstern, and its ability to stick to budget, then we would not have managed to accomplish all that we have. The investment that we made will see money saved across the board, which was in the brief.”

With 50,000 orders a year and 5000 order lines though its print management arm Pegasus handles a huge amount of data and the potential of wastage is high. Finkelde says, “Having all our data on one integrated digital system means that the potential for mistakes and waste is minimised. And because Tharstern Primo gives us real time shop floor data we can instantly see the cost of each part of each job. This means that jobs that provide zero or low margin can be jettisoned, which is what we are doing. We are in business to make money, knowing exactly what our costs are means we only work on profitable jobs.”

Pegasus is a printer on the move. It has tripled in size since the current owners bought it in 2000 and it is now looking at acquisition as part of its growth strategy. Finkelde says, “It is no secret we are looking at bringing in new businesses. When we do that, which will be sooner rather than later, we will switch them over to Tharstern.”

Installing mission critical infrastructure necessitates a long term relationship. Finkelde says, “I have every confidence, based on the evidence so far, that Tharstern will prove to be an excellent partner for Pegasus as the company seeks to move forward. Tharstern has the tools to provide Pegasus with the means to ensure it is operating at maximum efficiency in both production and admin and to share the journey with us. The transitional stage has been first rate and I am sure as we go on it will continue at the same level.”


Pegasus Print

Offset, label and digital printer in Sydney, Pegasus also offers a host of added value services including logistics, warehousing and print management. With 220 staff, four long perfectors and multiple label and digital presses Pegasus is a complex company. Pegasus needed to transition to a new MIS capable of integrating every aspect of the company now and in the future, while not disrupting its current workflow or productivity, and with 50,000 orders a year it is highly productive.


Drivers for Change:

  • With a stated competitive advantage of: ‘to provide our customers with lower prices through operational efficiency’ Pegasus was using an in-house designed system that wasn’t delivering the level of automation and services needed. The cost to continue and/or up-grade the system was deemed to be cost prohibitive.
  • Wanted to work with a partner for recommended business improvements, but the challenge was to ensure that Pegasus would make significant system and process gains, whilst losing nothing when shifting away from a heavily bespoked in house solution.
  • Change management where the environment was a potential perfect storm. Need to bring all areas of the business on to a single system: on-line ordering, sales, admin, label, offset, digital, wide format and logistics.
  • Managing volume: The number of order lines Pegasus process a month is around 5000 (excluding the management of outsourced purchases). Efficiently coordinating campaigns which ship simultaneously to sometimes thousands of individual locations with 30+ campaigns running each week.
  • Improved real-time visibility across the business seen as vital for a company with so many divisions, employees, daily despatches and contractual commitments to some of Australia’s largest companies.


The Tharstern Primo Implementation:

System Licensing for Core Users and Data Capture for 94 seats incorporating:

  • Estimating
  • Production planning
  • Data capture
  • Extensive barcode tracking
  • Warehousing
  • Stock and logistics with an online portal
  • Seamless integration to accounts and XMPie u-Store
  • Proposed future phases also include JDF integration for the XMF workflow


The Project Planning Process

  • A thorough review of all internal processes in conjunction with an internal project team tasked with the gradual transitioning of the business.
  • Projects staged into multiple phases on the basis of the demands of the business.
  • For an implementation across multiple disciplines, departments and functions, the project required (from a technical, resourcing and costing perspective) a staggered implementation with a number of milestones per phase. However, a large degree of flexibility was needed to cater to resourcing limitations, technical requirements and testing periods. These phases have constantly changed to meet the needs of the businesses and new challenges that have arisen. With every change, the communication and transparency to the project team and management is paramount around project status, roadblocks and milestones.


Challenges identified for the project (mitigating risk):

Change Management from a legacy system Moving to an off-the-shelf product, from a system built in-house over 15 years, was bound to raise challenges when evaluating current processes and re-engineering them where required, to meet best practices. At Pegasus, this was magnified by several factors:

  • Sizable business, equates to a large number of stakeholders and procedures.
  • Multiple departments operate with separate procedures (label, offset and digital).
  • Methods of manufacture, invoicing and order processing differs per client type.
  • Due to this disparity, the incumbent system was tailored and tweaked to meet the individual departments nice-to-haves and the key client needs.
  • Breaking down silos: As touched on in the earlier point, Pegasus is by nature several businesses under one. A key objective for a new MIS was to enforce consistency across the business and greater cohesion amongst the departments, all while maintaining transparency against each department.
  • Job function: As the roll out progressed, it became apparent that some user roles (job descriptions) were going to change significantly (some of these areas were not previously identified). It wasimportant to get Human Resources involved in these conversations to open up communication between usersabout how and why their responsibilities and functions would alter.
  • Running systems in parallel: It was determined early on the roll out of Tharstern Primo would need to be staggered, therefore run in parallel with the incumbent MIS system. Running two systems meant that each implementation phase presented a raft of challenges Pegasus System Administrators, supported by Tharstern where required, needed to ensure processes were in place to help manage the two systems operated in parallel as best as possible.
  • IT challenges: With any new software, comes with its own set of IT infrastructure requirements. The incumbent system lacked some of the touch points within the business that Tharstern Primo would now reach out to. Shop floor data capture and barcode stock control are examples. This new method of tracking and capturing real-time data from the factory floor is a priority to the business and required new technology to enable access in each area. This meant rolling out network access (Wifi/LAN) in the most cost effective method, while ensuring a stable connection and appropriate number of fixed/mobile access points (tablets or fixed terminal)

Outcomes of the Project:

  • Eliminating inefficient processes: Example: Large retail client requires quotes (and all amendments) to be sent with the final invoice/charge reports. The previous system could not attach signed quote letters, with versioning (time stamp) and link through to the associated production job. In order to comply with the client requirements, a process was set in place for accounts to search for hard copy of latest signed quote, scan, PDF and sent through as part of weekly reporting. This requires hours of processing each week. As Primo allows a quick attach method, with user/time stamping, which flows from quote to associated job, this process has now been automated through standard functionality and saved hours each week.
  • Template Impositions: Pegasus have a large amount of finished goods, each requiring a unique method of production. A system needed to be implemented, prior to JDF integration to XMF, that would take some touch points out of the job impositioning processes. Again, using Tharstern Primo’s ability to attach any type of document to a template and allow it to be accessed via a data capture terminal, Pegasus have used this process to assign an electronic imposition file to all of their templates. As the templates is converted to a job, the imposition seamlessly flows through to the linked job and becomes available in the shop floor data capture modules. This is then used by prepress. This process has eliminated the steps of searching and attaching the correct impo and any human error caused by assigning the wrong imposition.
  • Greater transparency and consistency: Example : During the production go-live process, a query was raised by an account manager that the printing on a large run job was quoted at a slower speed than necessary. The long print time raised the cost significantly for the quote and resulted in the account manager pushing for a minus ten per cent mark-up to secure the job. This was brought to the attention of the estimator who opened the job to look at the job costing entries. In the ‘Totals’ screen of a Tharstern Primo job, he could see the estimated printing entries (press, operations, times, run speed, overhead, labour) and the actual entries (press, operations completed, time taken, date/time completed, operator, overhead, actual labour rate, age run speed). He could see that over seven hours of print time (including makeready/plate loading ), the estimated time was out by less than ten minutes. The quote was costed correctly, and minus ten per cent markup was a true indication of a market driven price.
  • Inter departmental relationships: This level of transparency gives confidence in the system, but also gives the business a good feel for profit per job. Previously there was an element of alienation that existed between departments prior to the initiation of the project, where this has transitioned to a more symbiotic relationship where cross-departmental campaigns run simultaneously with centralised procurement for internally manufactured items and a large proportion of third party outsourced products.
  • Implementing a platform that allows for continued growth: Not all modules or functions of Tharstern Primo will be implemented as part of the initial system rollout. The core system will be embedded and the business functioning to a satisfactory level before new features are implemented throughout the business. These features will add a new layer of automation and/or mobility to the overall system. They include electronic production planning, auto email contacts, JDF integration to prepress, seamless integration to XMPie, online RFQ and reporting. Much of these additional features are being implemented to further reduce touch points and add mobility. With Tharstern Primo having the collective input of more than 500 print sites there will constantly continue to be new features and functionality offered as standard via new build updates or as additional modules. This will provide Pegasus with the support to grow, automate and refine processes for years to come. As the incumbent system was built in-house, this access to continuous improvement was difficult and costly, if not unachievable is some areas.

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