Prepress: Going with the flow

This article was first published in the November 2020 issue of AP – By Solimar Systems senior director of engagement Jonathan Malone-McGrew

The efficiency-enhancing benefits of workflow management systems are proven to deliver many quantifiable advantages for print companies. Yet, there is no doubt that changing processes that may have been in place for many years – perhaps even since day one – can be daunting.

Resistance to changing the prepress workflow may spring from a desire to maintain the status quo – the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” school of thought. But more often than not it stems from genuine concerns about how the change might impact staff morale, or if it will interrupt existing processes.

Here are the three common myths about workflow management systems and why making the switch could benefit far more than your bottom line:

Myth # 1: New workflow processes will demotivate staff

One of the most common concerns we hear from companies who are considering upgrading to a workflow management system is how staff will react. A company’s greatest asset is its people, especially the talent in the prepress team, so it’s absolutely right that the impact of new technology on morale is considered.

However, when handled correctly, the transition to more efficient and optimised workflow tools and processes can have a hugely positive effect on staff, by freeing them from tedious manual processes and giving them opportunities to do more value-added tasks. For example, adding PDF optimisation tools such as Solimar’s ReadyPDF can shave hours off of prepress manipulation of problem files.

Myth # 2: We can’t afford new commercial software

Cost is, understandably, a key consideration when investing in any new technology. However, when considering making an investment in prepress optimisation tools, it is essential to look beyond the purchase price and consider the time savings that can be achieved and the extra revenue more capacity and new services can generate.  

The right workflow management solution will be able to deliver a rapid return on investment (ROI). Based on feedback from Solimar customers who engage one or more of the Solimar Chemistry platform tools, typical benefits include a reduction in job onboarding time from 20 minutes to 20 seconds.

In addition, they report increased job visibility, tracking and reporting; a reduction in the cost of storage through better archive processes and greater efficiency; as well as the added capability to accept additional work types while adding differentiated value-adds. Imagine a prepress environment where there is no need to turn away work because the customer uses a different file type than the current workflow supports! 

Borns Group, a marketing, print and mailing solutions company based in the US, has achieved a ROI several times over since installing a Solimar workflow management system in 2019. The company installed the system to gain better control of its inkjet printers and automate processes such as adding digital inserts, migrating black and white logos to full colour and adding pages and perf marks. This has led to a quantifiable improvement in print quality and a 60 per cent reduction in project turn-around times, winning the company US$400,000 of new business while also improving its retention of existing customers. In addition, the Solimar system is also enabling Borns Group to save US$100,000 a year in reduced print production labor and business process costs.

Myth # 3: New workflow software won’t be compatible with existing systems

This is a common concern regarding workflow management systems – and it is not without foundation. Many of the software solutions on the market today rely on custom programming, requiring companies to employ highly skilled programming staff or employ the services of third-party programmers, which can be costly and may not provide the same level of responsiveness as in-house staff. This is often a deal-breaker. At the very least it can negatively impact the solutions long-term maintenance costs.

This is why the Solimar Chemistry platform is designed to be as simple to operate as possible. It has a simple-to-use interface that requires no complicated coding, enabling customers to accelerate the implementation of production changes and install new versions quickly. Moreover, it is configurable to many different environments and market types, making it a good fit for every size company from SMB to Enterprise while side-stepping the need for custom coding. 

Fuji Xerox is Solimar Systems’ main distributor for Australia. However, it can also sell directly to Australia.

Even if a company has a bespoke workflow, which many across Australia do, the Solimar solution set is easy to integrate. Solimar’s ReadyPDF will slide into any environment to start saving time, reducing storage, and solving common PDF challenges from the first day. Over time companies may even find that it will replace some of the workflow elements, eliminating the need to maintain in-house scripts and processes. 

The first step to workflow optimisation

The first step to improving workflow is to understand it. Solimar Systems provides a ‘walk your workflow’ service to help companies to assess their existing processes and systems, and advises on the steps they can take to improve them.

This can be done in person or virtually through online meetings. This process helps to identify where money is being left on the shop floor and arms businesses with the knowledge to make their workflow better, faster and more competitive.    

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