Tharstern partnering for profit


According to Tresta Keegan, managing director of Tharstern ANZ, potentially up to 80 per cent of all management information systems (MIS) content does much the same as any other product.

She says, “The additional 20 per cent differentiates one piece of software from another and can be a make or break in an environment. However whenever I ask my team why they think we succeed, they talk about trust and caring. Printing sites that deal with us do so as part of their future goals. We find that the most productive and progressive of our users are print businesses where we share a reciprocal trust. They are also the sites we take the most pleasure in.”

Keegan says, “We believe in our commercial responsibility to act in the best interests of the printing industry. This is to contribute to the recovery, the growth and the overall well-being of those working in commercial print, where any motivation we have should be driven by an underlying objective to improve the situation of all involved.”


MIS powerhouse

Tharstern is one of the powerhouses of the MIS world, its MIS is 30 years old, originating north of Manchester in the UK. The product has been represented locally for the last 12 years, with technical staff on the ground in Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and Wellington. Tharstern ANZ works very much as a cohesive team, leveraging off the specialist skills within, to service more than 50 Australasian installations and some 840 individual users of the system.

Tharstern UK provides additional resources and back up with its team of 40 staff, and have their own customer base of 500 companies globally.

With its rich heritage in MIS and global reach Tharstern knows what printers need, and has developed a suite of products and integrated solutions to meet those needs and enable printers to maximise their profit making opportunities.

Keegan says that while all printers have a choice of MIS developer to work with Tharstern offers several stand out differentiators.

She says, “Firstly in the scaleabilty and flexibility of Tharstern Primo, which is able to work with small print businesses right up to those with hundreds of staff. Having the one MIS that is scalable and flexible to that degree across multiple work types is rare. It is a testament to how well the product has been rationalised in its development and the adoption of 30 years of customer feedback.

“It means that as a print business grows either organically or through acquisition, or both, the Tharstern Primo will grow with them, no need for a major upgrade or replacement.

“Secondly it is a proven integrated solution. We represent an MIS that competes in the global marketplace. The managing director and now majority shareholder in the UK operation, Keith McMurtrie, is today in Barcelona, participating in JDF inter-ops, to ensure Tharstern Primo remains compliant with partner products in the market. Our ability to walk and talk with other leading solutions is key to ensuring users can tailor their overall integrated system to meet their general business objectives.

“We have users in Australia and around the world who refer to us as ‘game changers’. The Tharstern MIS is well ahead of the curve with the level of technology development and investment.”

Special projects manager Matthew Murray

The face of Tharstern in Australia is Matt Murray, who is based in Sydney and has been a driving force behind developing those relationships in the last three years.

Keegan says, “Matt joined us three years ago after I hunted him down when looking for someone to join the business in a key role in Sydney. He had previously been involved in a large Tharstern installation here in Australia. He always stood out as someone who was clearly passionate about getting results for the client.

Murray was brought in as special projects manager with a mandate to look at how the printing industry was changing, and the part Tharstern ANZ needed to play to influence positive outcomes for sites adopting its solution. Keegan says, “Essential to this is developing strong partnerships with users to make sure we are always talking the same language and jointly working toward the same goals.”


Primo XMPie integration

Murray was the key coordinator for the scope and development for Tharstern Primo and XMPie integration.

Fuji Xerox Australia, XMPie (Israel) and Tharstern ANZ formalised a multi-phased project earlier this year for the integration of their flagship products, XMPie StoreFlow and the Tharstern Primo MIS. The outcome is a seamlessly integrated suite from online web ordering passing through sales orders to create production-ready jobs travelling through the production workflow.

This affords existing Fuji Xerox and XMPie customers an easy entry to an MIS that is scalable and widely accepted as a leader in the marketplace. This in turn means Tharstern’s growing customer-base can now seriously consider StoreFlow as their virtual storefront, where theprepress automation integration will now be optional in the suite of modules.

The recent announcement of XMPie’s alliance with the variable data tool Chili Publish and Tharstern’s long-time relationship with Chili has cemented an interesting range of alternatives for printers to consider which components are best suited to their needs and that of their customer base.

Murray says, “It has always been central to our planning to look ahead and understand which partnerships and specialist tools will position printers as a preferred supplier with their customers. We are interested in identifying how we can play a part in securing as much of the print spend of the end user customer, for our own Tharstern users.

“XMPie StoreFlow is a great step forward in this direction. Our own online portal as a complementary tool, alongside Tharstern’s Procurement Suite, means marketing teams can have access to their own parts of the system, quoting jobs on the fly, comparing variations and then submitting it straight into the Tharstern production workflow. Specific rules can be configured around how each site wants this to work and the level of automation.”

Printers partnering with software developers want to know that they have a solid future not just with the software, but with the individuals standing behind the business. Tresta Keegan says, “The recent buy out by management has secured Tharstern as an ongoing force for the foreseeable future, which is exactly why management took the step to take control. We spend a great deal of time getting to understand how printers operate, who they are, what makes them tick and where they want to be in future. We work with their vested interest to ensure they have the best opportunity to thrive.”


Mobilising users

Matt Murray has also been influential in transitioning Tharstern sites to hosted Cloud environments, mobilising users either through how they use the software to capture or review data; and how their interaction through mobile devices puts them on the road and out from behind a desk.

He says, “I tend to wear a lot of hats in the business but can fall back to anyone on the team either here or in the UK to make sure all the right information is being communicated.

“I enjoy walking printers through the benefits the overall Primo solution will deliver for them, then giving a face-value to how the improvements that may appear to be many, but seemingly small, will result in significant and generally immediate advances in the business.

“Just the other day one individual in a meeting said one small standard feature in Primo would save him, personally, four hours a week. Light bulbs always start going off at that point. They can see that those features will save them a hell of a lot of time and money. We are placing even greater emphasis on encouraging sites to quantify a level and direction that can be translated to ROI.

“The last few years have resulted in a massive shift of thinking with regards to MIS. If you have made it this far, then congratulations are in order.

“But it also means that everyone from the shop floor up to the CEO is more focused on maximising the technology to give them an edge. This means to work smarter, leaner and to communicate more clearly with both customers and suppliers.”

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