By Eric de Goeijen, Océ North America, Production Printing Systems Vice President Product Marketing
Every print job you can think of today has a workflow associated with it – specific tasks and processes that have to be managed and ideally, automated. Not surprisingly, workflow means different things to different people. Jobs flow differently in commercial print shops than they do in high-volume transactional data centers, direct mail houses, service bureaus or CRDs in enterprise environments. So their corresponding approaches to automating workflow are different as well.
In a graphic arts environment, the workflow conversation would center on authoring content, content management, getting images and photographs approved, creating layouts and submitting jobs for print. If you’re in a transaction print environment, the conversation is going to be more about process optimization and automation, integrity, load balancing and qualifying for postal discounts. It’s worth noting that in today’s transaction environments, there should be more of an intersection between the graphic arts creative focus and the transaction efficiency perspective.
In the traditional transaction printing environment, automation efficiencies are gained by streamlining the processes following receipt of content – basically data. The process starts when data arrives and ends when finished documents leave the “shop” either in print or through e-delivery. Sometimes production may be accomplished in a hard-wired “Automated Document Factory” configuration, a virtually connected configuration of varied print and finishing equipment – or a combination of both. Either way, the goal is to reduce costs and boost end-to-end productivity from job submission through tracking, reprinting, indexing and archiving. A workflow solution to support this environment must work seamlessly with many flavors of high-volume print and finishing devices. What’s more it should enable the highest degree of postal automation and quality control.
But in today’s transaction print environments – more than data is being delivered. More and more, transaction documents include variable messaging, graphics, pURLs and other dynamic content potentially created by marketing agencies or colleagues on the graphic arts side of the business. This means taking the workflow from receipt of data forward is no longer enough. Transaction printers have to start thinking about automating workflows that safely integrate the creative process with the mission-critical production process.
In a previous post, Francis McMahon talked about “Getting Marketing Involved in Production Print.” I believe that defining transaction printing workflow as extending beyond the realm of data, and integrating up-stream creative workflows into service providers’ solutions will be critical to driving new business for service providers. What do you think?