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  • Help build a simpler, more modern MIS

    We all know that digital is in and that run lengths are getting smaller. The current crop of MIS products are not adapting rapidly enough and are not catering to the needs of the smaller, digital printer. We want to change that.

    An MIS should
    • be quick to setup and simple to use
    • be affordable
    • cut down on admin time in the office
    • be available on all devices



    Ease of Use
    None of us have time for extensive training sessions on ugly, complex software. Nobody wants to spend a whole day just setting up the software before they even use it. Your MIS should work instantly in your web browser and it should be available to everyone in the office, so you staff can use it simultaneously. No setup, no installation, no hassle.

    Affordability
    MIS products on the market at the moment are too expensive for small printers. We’d like to bring a solution with open, tiered pricing. The price you see on the website is the price you should pay. If you do low volume then you should pay less than someone doing large volume.

    Cut Down on Admin
    It seems like many small printers are doing far more typing and writing than they need to. People are writing job dockets by hand, then typing the exact same information into their accounting package once the job is finished. Salesmen are taking notes on paper, then inputting that exact same information into software later. This repetition costs time and money and leaves room for human error. We want you to type things once and once only.

    Accessibility
    Many of us have smartphones these days, devices like iPads are becoming more widespread. We should be able to access our MIS wherever and whenever. Imagine having access to all your data, on your ipad, from home. Imagine your salesmen could upload new quotes or jobs directly to your MIS from their smartphone. We want to make this happen.


    Customer Relationship Management
    Get to know your customers in detail and stay informed about your company. Which customers have jobs on at the moment? Which customers have the highest average job cost? Which customers take too long to pay? All of this data should be at your fingertips, available in real-time, visual graphs and charts.

    Basic Quote Management
    We believe that the estimation features of current MIS offerings are overly complex for smaller, digital printers. Most of the digital printers I’ve talked to so far are doing quotes in their heads or on a calculator and like it that way. Rather than make this process more complex, we want to make it simpler by replacing pen and paper with digital tools, offering quote templates for standard quotes, providing a simple way for staff to confer over quotes and offering a solution for upgrading accepted quotes to jobs.

    Job Management
    You should be able to see at a glance which jobs are in progress and for whom. Job dockets should be generated with one click. You should be able to get a quote on an outsourced job from a bigger printer in one click. You should be able to easily see which jobs need to be printed next and sort them by due date or job type. You should be able to quickly search for older jobs and reprint them.

    Invoice Management
    You should be able to invoice jobs with just a couple clicks, then export your invoices into your accounting software to keep everything synced. You should be able to quickly search for old invoices. You should be able to filter your invoices list to see only unpaid invoices, so you can hunt down payments quickly and easily.

    Got something to add? We would love to hear from you.

    I’m looking to talk to anyone and everyone with an opinion about this. Are the assumptions we’ve made wrong? Do any of the ideas and features sound unhelpful? Do you need something else, something more? If you currently use an MIS, what’s the number one thing you hate about it? What’s the number one thing you love about it?

    I’d also like to talk to people over the phone. We’re offering early access to anyone who is willing to have a quick chat about your workflow and how your shop works. Private message me if you’re interested.

    We can make better software when we have better feedback and information.

  • #2
    we can help you. Please contact us

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    • #3
      Digital printing isn't the only area with this problem. I have seen this same problem over and over in digital, commercial litho, quick print, labeling and folding cartons.

      Have you seen... Presswise - Home ? This was the only solution I found out there that did seem to have a real clue about digital. Smartsoft has since swallowed them up so I don't know if that has negatively affected PressWise or not.

      The rest of this is a rant...

      I was tasked by a former employer and spent nearly a year of my "extra" time educating myself on JDF, MIS, ERP, CRM, W2P and OMGWTFBBQ solutions oriented at all facets of the printing industry. I went to tradeshows, HQs, actual "working" installs and had sales pitches and demos presented to me on site. I came to the harsh conclusion that the systems out there were crap. Such crap that I quit my job then sought out investors and capital to start up a company and make one myself. To my wife's dismay I quickly found out that I am crap at fundraising then the economy decided to disintegrate simultaneously. I have since fell back into a 9-5 job.

      Many systems get one feature perfect and leave the rest a mess of mediocrity while others have extremely good sales/marketing and a product that appears on the surface to be excellent but is fundamentally flawed or nonexistent on the backend. Despite marketing literature saying "works with... " none of these systems I reviewed actually interfaced well with other vendors products without massive customized configuration and management.

      IMHO the problem of products serving this niche failing to successfully serve and develop can be be centrally blamed on one company (name starts with an E). This company has ruthless yet horribly inefficient business practices. They buy up smaller successful companies in this niche then squeeze the product for as much profit as possible until it withers and dies. Then they repeat the process. It's completely counter to innovation for the industry but I am sure their shareholders are fat and happy.

      The options out there right now:
      a.) are too expensive
      b.) are too incompatibile with other solutions
      c.) try to accomplish too many things through one application
      d.) too hard to figure out how to use for a user
      e.) take too much time to administer, configure and utilize
      f.) tend to utilize and are built on top of platform technologies that do not have a future
      g.) are too rigid and do not offer any flexibility in the way they operate

      I hope that the cloud based computing solutions will solve these problems. I have been extremely happy with GoogleApps and GoogleApps Marketplace solutions to solve many of my business IT/IS headaches.
      Last edited by chevalier; 12-19-2012, 12:46 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by web2printsolution View Post
        we can help you. Please contact us
        I just sent you an email on your website. Thanks.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by chevalier View Post
          Digital printing isn't the only area with this problem. I have seen this same problem over and over in digital, commercial litho, quick print, labeling and folding cartons.

          Have you seen... Presswise - Home ? This was the only solution I found out there that did seem to have a real clue about digital. Smartsoft has since swallowed them up so I don't know if that has negatively affected PressWise or not.

          The rest of this is a rant...

          I was tasked by a former employer and spent nearly a year of my "extra" time educating myself on JDF, MIS, ERP, CRM, W2P and OMGWTFBBQ solutions oriented at all facets of the printing industry. I went to tradeshows, HQs, actual "working" installs and had sales pitches and demos presented to me on site. I came to the harsh conclusion that the systems out there were crap. Such crap that I quit my job then sought out investors and capital to start up a company and make one myself. To my wife's dismay I quickly found out that I am crap at fundraising then the economy decided disintegrate simultaneously. I have since fell back into a 9-5 job.
          Oh wow. Ok. This is exactly the type of response I was hoping for. Not the fact that you failed to raise startup capital obviously but the fact that you we're so disenfranchised that you felt the need to try is a good indication of the level of failure of current MIS products.

          Originally posted by chevalier View Post
          Many systems get one feature perfect and leave the rest a mess of mediocrity while others have extremely good sales/marketing and a product that appears on the surface to be excellent but is fundamentally flawed or nonexistent on the backend. Despite marketing literature saying "works with... " none of these systems I reviewed actually interfaced well with other vendors products without massive customized configuration and management.
          Can you give me some examples of the type of integration you mean here please? My current thinking is that there is basically two types of integration, accounting and JDF.

          On the accounting side, the product should be able to sync contacts and invoices with all the major accounting packages (Quickbooks and Sage at a minimum).

          On the JDF end, I think integration with Fiery's Command Workstation would be a start although not exactly ideal solution. I envision a setup whereby jobs can be sent directly from the web-based MIS to the workstation with attachments. Then notifications should be sent back to the web interface on successful printing/failure/etc.

          Is this the type of integration you mean? Perhaps you can help me understand what your ideal workflow would be?

          Originally posted by chevalier View Post
          IMHO the problem of products serving this niche failing to successfully serve and develop can be be centrally blamed on one company (name starts with an E). This company has ruthless yet horribly inefficient business practices. They buy up smaller successful companies in this niche then squeeze the product for as much profit as possible until it withers and dies. Then they repeat the process. It's completely counter to innovation for the industry but I am sure their shareholders are fat and happy.
          No comment! ;-)

          Originally posted by chevalier View Post
          c.) try to accomplish too many things through one application
          I 100% agree with all the other points you made. This one is interesting though. What's the drawback of having all your shop management in one place? Is it just that they try to do too much and fail at doing anything well because of that?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by printbelt View Post
            Can you give me some examples of the type of integration you mean here please? My current thinking is that there is basically two types of integration, accounting and JDF.
            In no particular order and a potentially incomplete list (some of these might be considered "modules"):
            Customer Relationship Management(CRM), Devices (JDF), DataCollection (JMF), Scheduling (including maintenance), Shipping (delivery van,UPS,FedEX,etc.), Vendors, CAD, Device Tooling Resource Allocation (cutting dies, specialty jigs), Device Variable Resource Allocation (ink, paper, etc.), Artwork resource management, Human Resource Management (HRMS)

            If you look at this from a one time job perspective for a digital printer it is relatively simple comparatively. However, I've met a couple of your countrymen with this solution which does incorporate a lot of the more complicated systems I mentioned. They were busy creating an MIS type solution specifically tailored to this style of carton manufacturing. To me it was more a feature of an MIS than a stand alone product.

            Originally posted by printbelt View Post
            On the accounting side, the product should be able to sync contacts and invoices with all the major accounting packages (Quickbooks and Sage at a minimum).
            Agree'd. However, what about the million/billion dollar/euro/whatever customer that forces you into retrieving orders or billing orders to/from a really big-dog app like SAP? What about MIS/CRM/Accounting correlation so that you aren't producing product for a customer that hasn't paid the bill in 6 months?

            Originally posted by printbelt View Post
            On the JDF end, I think integration with Fiery's Command Workstation would be a start although not exactly ideal solution. I envision a setup whereby jobs can be sent directly from the web-based MIS to the workstation with attachments. Then notifications should be sent back to the web interface on successful printing/failure/etc.

            Is this the type of integration you mean? Perhaps you can help me understand what your ideal workflow would be?
            This is definitely a start. I could write a novel on this.

            Originally posted by printbelt View Post
            I 100% agree with all the other points you made. This one is interesting though. What's the drawback of having all your shop management in one place? Is it just that they try to do too much and fail at doing anything well because of that?
            Define "all of your shop management". Doing too much and failing at everything was my observation.
            Last edited by chevalier; 12-19-2012, 01:28 PM. Reason: additional thoughts

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by chevalier View Post
              In no particular order and a potentially incomplete list (some of these might be considered "modules"):
              Customer Relationship Management(CRM), Devices (JDF), DataCollection (JMF), Scheduling (including maintenance), Shipping (delivery van,UPS,FedEX,etc.), Vendors, CAD, Device Tooling Resource Allocation (cutting dies, specialty jigs), Device Variable Resource Allocation (ink, paper, etc.), Artwork resource management
              That's a decent list all right! In my experience the primary problem with interfacing with other products is that they seem to love the "walled-garden" approach to software development. They don't want their products to be compatible with other systems because then people could actually leave their platforms and take their business elsewhere.

              Take Sage for example, it's the most obvious thing in the world to me that Sage 50 should have a web API that I as a print MIS developer could use to sync customers and invoices automatically. It provides the customer with the best experience. No dice. Instead users are forced to fiddle with manually transporting CSV files between programs and many elect to just re-type the information out of sheer frustration.

              Anyway, I digress..

              As you say, "Doing too much and failing at everything" seems to be the norm. For that reason, we'd like to chose one slice of the market and optimise for their needs first. My theory is that the small digital shop is the best place to target because they need simple, clean solutions rather than gigantic monstrosities.

              So with that in mind, perhaps you might outline the minimum feature set and integrations for an MIS for that market?

              Thanks for all your thoughts so far by the way. This is fantastic.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by chevalier View Post
                I hope that the cloud based computing solutions will solve these problems. I have been extremely happy with GoogleApps and GoogleApps Marketplace solutions to solve many of my business IT/IS headaches.
                chevalier, my own research has left me with the same general conclusion, forcing me to cobble a group of solutions for my plant's unique requirements, GoogleApps being one.

                I'm continually searching the Marketplace for suitable solutions. Would you mind sharing which ones you've selected that I could evaluate further?

                Comment


                • #9
                  How is that for reviving an old thread! Let's hope they come back to check here.

                  printbelt, how are you progressing? Assuming you have a working prototype by now? I have walked basically the same path as chevalier (excluding the bit where he quit to build it) and share his frustration - could have written his exact replies myself. I'm in a commercial litho environment and have exactly the same problems. Currently running a MIS with moderate success, but it's huge, old and complicated. The low level of computer literacy in South Africa doesn't help either and a lot of people struggle to use it.

                  If I was a programmer I would have been working on a cloud-served browser based version right now. Learning programming now, but I will probably miss the opportunity to fill the gap in the market that exists right now.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    why all of a sudden has 2+ servers communicating together being called a cloud? Its been around for years.

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