Did You Automate in 2023?
Guest Post: Ryan McAbee, Pixel Dot Consulting and The Print University
We began the year talking about automation. No matter where you are on the spectrum of understanding and execution, it does not happen automatically. Even the installation of workflow automation tools does not guarantee that process automation happens. Having tools is not the same as integrating them into the way your shop works.
As a reminder, when we talk about automation, we are describing how one process or task moves forward to another without a team member intervening. It has become part of the talk track in the industry because of a series of intersecting developments:
- Reduced labor availability.
- Retirement of mature talent.
- Changes in turnaround demanded by customers.
- Innovations in available software and hardware solutions.
Did you bring automation to your shop in 2023, or expand existing automation? If you did, where did you focus. Best practices are to look for the repetitive, boring tasks and apply automation so that those team members can focus on the tasks that need their expertise. The goal is always to apply people to the higher-value tasks and automation to repetitive processes based on data-influenced decisions.
- Did you implement a dashboard that grabs data and visualizes it for team members so they understand the current shop status?
- Did you implement a web2print system usable by internal and external sales team members and customers to standardize order capture?
- Did you automate the update the costing and operational data that feeds back into estimating and quoting?
- Did you add automation to preflighting and optimization steps to ensure that every job is in the best condition as it moves to prepress and print?
And, while you were working toward more automation, did you review existing automation to ensure it is still the best it can be? Printers often say that when they go back to do reviews, they discover changes to their environment that cause automation routines to be less efficient than they could be.
The takeaway for the end of the year is to review the processes and tools implemented this year and then budget time to tighten processes before you start the new year.
Ryan McAbee is the principal at Pixel Dot Consulting, a firm that partners with companies in the production printing industry to ‘Elevate print through tech.’ We help OEMs and PSPs define and build their future through consulting, market analysis, product strategy, sales enablement, and industry education services. Ryan has spent over 20 years immersed in the technology that powers print, working with a wide range of well-known and industry leading vendors and print service providers.
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