Succeeding in Spite of Print Software’s Weaknesses
A culture of finding ways to optimize software in your business is something you can control. The successful printers will be the ones who are getting the most of their print software tools—mostly by being open to evolving their own workflows to fit the how the software works best.
You purchased print software for your business; web-to-print, pre-press automation, Print MIS or maybe a CRM application and after the sale you discover it doesn’t work as you thought it would. There is this critical time in the life of a software solution where the culture of your organization is either going to look for ways to succeed in spite of the issues or look for reasons why it won’t work.
This is so important.
Based on zero statistical studies and relying on just my own experience; more than half of all print software failures are due to the fact that the print business’ culture is setup to find reasons why software won’t work vs. finding ways to succeed in spite of software’s inherent weaknesses. This has nothing to do with the vendor. This has nothing to do with the software. This is something that is 100% in the printer’s control.
How do you know if you have the culture of “looking for reasons why it won’t work?”
There are obvious signs. Look for statements like, this won’t work with our workflow, our processes are unique, they don’t fit into the way this software works. This won’t work. The word “won’t” is a popular word to listen for. When print businesses are looking for ways to succeed despite the issues, they reach out to the vendor and say stuff like, “this is how we do this today, it doesn’t seem to be ideal in your software—how would you suggest we might change our processes to better optimize the software?” That is a real statement from a real printer about a real software product. This printer is constantly looking at how they might be able to change in order to better use the software solution. It is refreshing to hear, and I’ll share one other thing about that printer – they have been consistently growing 20%+ year over year for many years. I think there’s a correlation.
Software is tricky, especially if you’re replacing a manual, human driven process where you literally have the option of treating every situation differently because humans can do that. The biggest challenge with software is that it forces you to define a process. The biggest advantage of software is that it forces you to define a process. Humans resist this; yet it is the path to consistent execution and the ability to delegate repetitive tasks to software, so humans can do what they do best and you can profitably scale your business.
You (the leaders) can change your culture. When you are faced with a “this won’t work…” comment, respond with “how can we succeed in spite of this challenge?” What is your proposed workaround to this challenge? You have to direct your team to be solution focused rather than excuse focused. If you buy into the fact that software has to work exactly how you want it to work; you will spend a lot of time waiting on software changes or a lot of money paying for them.
Unless you have a truly differentiating workflow—you have to be willing to change to optimize the tool for you. Workflow processes are easier and less expensive to change than software is. If you can mold your processes to optimize your software tools—you will use less labor, spend less on software, and be more efficient. I know this sounds funny—you paid for the software; shouldn’t it be flexible enough to work how you want it to? Ideally yes but it is very difficult to build software that is both super configurable and still easy to use. When software gets too flexible/configurable it can be too complex so most software vendors are balancing “ease-of-use” and configurability. A print business’ ability to optimize software tools is a great indicator of their ability to compete moving forward. Software must become your largest labor force; eating up all tasks that don’t require the unique skills of a human.