When I was laid off in the middle of the 2008-9 economic crisis, I couldn’t help but think, “Well, there’s 20 years down the drain.” I had progressed from the late 80’s as a press operator – becoming adept with many different types of presses, mostly in print finishing. In the mid 2000’s, I had a surprise opportunity to move into customer service and inside sales support – which ultimately led to outside sales. I thought I was finally on the path to a career with a broader future and a more respectable income, rather than living paycheck to paycheck like most of my fellow workers on the shop floor. I was visiting tons of customers, driving my new (albeit used) car all over the southeast U.S., and making great new connections that offered to expand my occupational scope.
All of that changed in a heartbeat, as it did for so many at the time with the financial crash. Hundreds if not thousands of smaller print shops around the country closed their doors forever. It’s usually the sales people who are deemed non-essential in such troubled times – and thus, laid off first.
As the official reason for being let go was “lack of work,” – I immediately qualified for unemployment insurance and received full benefits – which amounted to $300/week. Not very much. But at least my rent was low, and I was able to float for a few months.
The unexpected downtime I suddenly found myself with availed new opportunities. I was fortunate to borrow a laptop, and had a decent internet connection. After some sulking days (OK, maybe weeks) sitting home in pajamas (as you may be now), I realized I ought to be taking advantage of this vast resource. Do some research. A new career path meant I needed to expand my knowledge and skill set. Take the time to look around. I hadn’t really had time to breathe or think about things in so long, because work and routine keeps one so busy.
I share this not out of a desire to talk about myself, but rather to offer encouragement and some words of suggestion – to all you print business owners and decision makers out there.
The biggest barrier keeping print shops from upgrading or changing their legacy MIS/ERP systems is the problem of disrupting their production – they simply don’t have the time. Wouldn’t now be a perfect opportunity to be doing some online research – while your production is completely disrupted – into what software systems are out there and would be best for your business? Have you been looking to graduate from your outdated, heavily customized legacy system? Your separate accounting software? Wishing there was a single solution that could handle everything you need it to do, yet was actually affordable?
These days there are plenty of online resources to help you learn about and evaluate the many print MIS/ERP systems that exist. Some are better than others, obviously. With current cloud/subscription pricing models you’re much more likely to find a flexible solution that actually suits your business than you were 10 – 15 years ago – and the upfront costs are significantly lower. Significantly.
So if you aren’t already, consider using this time to check out some articles, whitepapers and blogs on what elements make a good ERP system. What will be your true total cost of ownership? How can you calculate your ROI? Here’s a good resource to research some basics.
Good enterprise resource planning software should provide integrated management of your main business processes: Accounting, expense management, time registration, manufacturing, purchasing, sales and inventory. The vital difference with PrintVis is our print-specific functionality, as opposed to generic “manufacturing.” We’ve spent over 20 years refining our system to meet the unique requirements of the print industry vertical, and across the full spectrum of its sub-verticals (packaging, label, wide format, finishing, etc.). It’s based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (formerly NAV) which takes care of all those other aspects that ERP should.
Now’s a great chance to do some of your own research – before it’s time to fire up the presses again. And that time will come, hopefully very soon. So do some comparison shopping. Make a checklist detailing what you’d really like a software system to provide for your business – and see who sizes up. You’ll probably narrow it down to a short list rather quickly.
Check this out: WhatTheyThinkPrintVisSpotlight.pdf (13 downloads)
- Even more so than with other types of software packages, take extra time to ensure that you are getting the right fit with a new enterprise resource planning software system. Don’t spend tens of thousands of dollars on features you won’t ever use, but make sure the solution is sophisticated enough to grow with your company.
- Budget plenty of time for selection and implemention. Choosing an ERP can take six months to a year, and implementation typically requires 18 months or more.
- Guard against staff paranoia by keeping everyone as informed as possible throughout the process. Some employees will resist change, and others will see new software as a threat to their jobs.
- Don’t expect too much. Enterprise resource planning software is very powerful and can help businesses become more productive, but no package can fix problems on its own. Regardless of the system you choose, lots of staff time and effort will be required to make an ERP function at its best.
- Be willing to change your business processes. The selection and implementation of a new enterprise resource planning software system is a perfect opportunity to evaluate how your business might benefit from adopting industry best practices that your old system would not support.
- Talk to peers at organizations similar to yours who have recently purchased an ERP system to get their insights into which systems they considered and why they made the decision they ultimately did.