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3 Steps to a Better Workflow Now!

Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2018 by Pat McGrew, Director, Production Workflow Services, Keypoint Intelligence.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to go back to the basics, so let’s start with defining workflow today in 2018. This is a tall order because how you define workflow depends on where you come from in the print world, the jobs you’ve done, and the things you need to manage. Let’s divide the world of workflow into two parts, and call one business workflow and the other production workflow.

On the business side, we’re worried about raw materials like paper and ink. Business Intelligence workflows track materials from the loading dock on the way in to the production floor, and then track deliveries. This is where business accounting happens, and where you gather business data to guide strategies about what products you want to sell and at what price.

On the production side, we’re worried about the tasks and processes used to move a job from the point where it arrives in the shop for production to the point where it is ready for delivery. The focus is on automation, efficiency, and processes to manage problems when they arise. In some cases, the process reaches back to a crossover point with the business workflow if the sales team estimates and quotes the job. The focus, however, is on the production of the job.

How do you even know if your workflow works, and what can you expect out of a 2018-inized workflow? Here are 3 steps to help you achieve a better workflow now!

1. Know what you need. To know what’s best for your workflow, you need to understand your business inside and out. The best way to confirm your knowledge is to walk the workflow through all of its variations. This will be easy if you only do one type of work, but most shops will see variations in the work that comes in. Jobs may differ in terms of the devices that are used, how they are printed and finished, or even how they are packaged for delivery. Your goal is to understand ALL of the touchpoints for each job.

2. Take notes. Once you’ve walked through the process, make a note of any points along the route that seem to cause slowdowns. It might be issues with meeting customer color requirements, challenges in getting customers to approve proofs, or even achieving consistent quality. If you have been part of a merger or an acquisition, you may find that there are duplications in processes and software solutions that make it harder to move work through the shop. Make a note of everything that you find!

3. Optimize your workflow. Now it’s time to find ways to optimize. The next few blogs will look at the key areas of workflow: Creative and Composition, Job Entry and Management, and Core Workflow. The goal is to give you pointers for optimization with the best workflow intelligence at hand!

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If you have stories to share, I’d love to hear them! @PatMcGrew on Twitter, on LinkedIn, or all reach me.