Think tactical. Keep it simple.

Think tactical. Keep it simple.

 “Life is actually really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

the simple route through a strategic mazeAfter returning from the ACPME conference in Glasgow, early in June, I was struck by a mood change amongst many of the delegates in regard to Web-to-Print. A more pragmatic tone prevailed, moving on from the “we need something that does everything” to the simple “we need something that we can work with”.
There is, it seems to me, a feeling that the prospect of investing 2 – 3 years on a project that attempts to take care of everything is so traumatic that no one wants to go near it. There is also the fear that, whilst all that “set-up” work is going on, in the meantime newer and possibly better ways of addressing those needs became available.

A solution to everything


I am sure that the “solution to everything” approach has been driven to a large extent by a number of factors, not least by the increasing need to justify software purchases, but also by unqualified business processes which in turn can create unrealistic ‘requirement’ shopping lists.
Most of us can point to stories of hugely expensive and complex systems that tick over at a fraction of their capability, simply because, once they have been implemented no one has the time, or indeed the resource, to explore and exploit any additional ‘nice-to-have’, but not necessary, features or functions.

Fulfil the core need


We see this perception shift in other sectors too. Back-to-basics tech that keeps it simple could be next big thing. Look at the current movement in the car industry, such as the hugely successful Dacia Duster which offers a simple, no frills motoring.
Let’s face it, how many of us even begin to fully exploit or utilise all the capabilities of our expensive smart phones. We simply do not have the time and it will be interesting to see how popular the new, basic Nokia phone offering proves to be. As with ‘apps’ on a mobile phone, the actual phone is not the interface with which the user associates on a regular basis. The apps are what people use daily, an application to fulfil an immediate need; be that a game, browsing the internet or checking their calendar. The apps don’t interact with each other to create a whole experience, they operate to service a specific need.

Tactical vs. Strategic

Saving costs within a print facility, engaging and interacting with different user groups, attracting more work and streamlining the workflow is the strategic direction. This strategy will be (even in a small print room) complex and involve lots of stakeholders, it takes time and will often evolve along with the organisation and its environment.
A start is getting a system in place to collect work and print requirements. A centralised solution with the flexibility to talk and share information with other systems. This is a tactical step, which can then help redefine, verify and support your long term strategic vision.
An accessible and flexible solution (like Skyline) can quickly deliver real value to the business. It is designed to be up and running with minimum fuss; managing core workflow and daily activities. This gives you instant benefits and means that the business is not constrained whilst you consider further developments and extensions. Skyline’s architecture means it is a solution that can grow with your business and develop as you become increasingly knowledgeable and confident using the software.

Start Simple

Skyline customers predominantly face the following issues:

  • Work arrives by email which can cause problems for print in clarifying and correcting formatting and instructions
  • The great production facilities that internal Print Rooms provide are not being utilised effectively or enough
  • Resources that could be best used elsewhere are being spent on allocating print expenditure and compiling reports
  • Budgets are being spent by departments outsourcing print that could be delivered internally

Skyline Web-to-Print software has always been focused on delivering a simple solution to these problems. It seems to me that the feedback we continue to receive from our customers are that they need software that is ‘easy to use’ and that makes the Print Room the ‘simple’ solution for their internal clients. While you are considering your choice of solution, keep the big picture in mind. When we remember how hard deployment of anything(!) can be, we are reminded to Keep it Simple.

Chris Camp

Chris is Managing Director of ePrint direct, creators and developers of Skyline, a comprehensive print direction, web-to-print and publishing solution. Chris has over 20 years’ experience in the print sector, working with global industry partners and with customers based around the world and across a number of industries, including education, government and commercial.