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The Road to Automation
A word about the JDF Hype
Production Management Software 1

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In Scope Solutions, Inc. offers a variety of Consulting Services to help you grow your business, increase you productivity and reduce the time you need to spend in the office. We can help you achieve the state where you can focus on running and growing your business as opposed to fighting fires and doing the work yourself. From overhead reduction through employee training to IT Management services. We use tried and true methods to save you time, effort and money. Contact us and Give us a try.
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Printing Industry Articles:
The Road to Automation - Is 0-100 the Only Way?
by Wolfgang Blauen

Choose Your Tools Wisely

When it comes to automation the choice of tools and products is just as important as their intended use in your environment. Software companies want to make you believe that only a single vendor environment will function properly. While this approach works in some environments it is not universally the best one. Think about it this way: If you differentiate yourself from the market by establishing your own special set of services and processes, how well do you think a "one size fits all" solution by a single vendor will suit your needs? In addition, most software vendors are in the business of selling more software, not making what they sold you fit your needs. And ins some cases a custom software solution may even be the best fit for you. While this approach is typically associated with a higher inital investment, it promises a much better fit and supportability down the road and maximizes the return on your investment. Remember - You will need custom software to "glue" the components together and make them fit your needs even if you buy off-the-shelf software.

Here are some guidelines that will help you make good Software purchase decisions:

  • Start with the development of your set of decision criteria and functional needs as opposed to the review of different software packages. This will ensure you stay focused on what you need and don't get pulled into a particular vendor's train of thought or selling method. 

  • Buy products specializing in doing fewer things better. Not all components must be by the same vendor. Don’t get caught up in “cool features”, make sure you can tie a business benefit to the solutions. Don't worry about integration between island solutions as long as you can identify the solutions have ways to exchange information or expose their information. Stay away from closed systems with proprietary logic and data stores. Ask the vendor to provide a data model for their application and have it analyzed and mapped to your needs.

  • Buy tools that empower your managers rather than dictating their day-to-day activity. The worst mistake you can make is force your business into rigid procedures dictated by the technology. This is a sure way for the implementation to fail. Keep in mind that you and your people will have to work with the solution as a tool every day. If the solution isn't flexible enough or can't be used under all conditions then it provides limited benefit and doesn't get you close enough to your goal.

  • Compare solutions for ROI. Don’t be blinded by solutions that shift the cost to the infrastructure. You make money with the tool, not the infrastructure. Include Software support and maintenance cost in your calculations for all options, even if the vendor isn't forthcoming with the information.

  • Be aware who declares “Best in Class” and what it really means. Ranking doesn’t correlate to pricing – more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better. Independent researchers investigate similar products (according to common criteria) and determine the most desirable tool. Understand how the criteria relate to your business needs. 

When it comes to automating your production environment, the journey is the destination. The steps aren’t just milestones; they’re individual strategies which deserve to be treated as separate projects. Going slower may ultimately get you to the goal in better shape. Automation is a long term goal, not a one step software deployment.

Copyright (c) 2008 by In Scope-Solutions, Inc. 

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