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The Dangers of Data Silos in the Print Industry

By Chris Young
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“The integrity of your print business data is a foundational building block of your business,” says print software expert Jennifer Matt in a recent WhatTheyThink article. “It impacts how fast you can move.” In this statement, she refers to the fact that data touches every aspect of a print business and therefore influences an organization’s ability to grow and adapt.  

In a rapidly advancing industry like print, data—and your ability to use it—sets you apart from your competitors. It tells you who your customers are, how you are performing, and where you need improvements. The problem is many printers are still using multiple disparate systems to manage their business. These non-integrated systems cause data silos, which tend to be the root of all process efficiency and productivity problems.  

In this blog post, we explain the impact that data silos are having on your print operations and what you can do to resolve them.  

The Many Islands of Data in a Print Shop   

Where does all of your data live? Most printers worldwide have their customer and business data spread out across several business applications and systems to support their main functions. They use accounting software to manage bookkeeping, a CRM system for sales, a standalone estimating solution to handle complex quotes, separate Excel spreadsheets for scheduling, an inventory management system to help with the shop floor, and the list goes on.  

These systems or “separate islands of data” are often not shared or accessible by other areas of the organization. They work to create one piece of the puzzle, and then it’s up to someone else to painstakingly put those pieces together—haphazardly. Why haphazardly, you ask? Well, typically, each island has its own database and environment. The data found in these systems can be limited or rigidly defined, with different program languages and file types to navigate.  

So why is this a problem? As you know, print operations are complicated. Without a central data source to standardize and bring all of that information together, you face:   

  • Poor data quality  
  • Inaccurate reporting and analytics  
  • Manual data consolidation that leads to human errors and mistakes  
  • Wasted time on double data entry  
  • Lack of communication across the organization  
  • Strategic decisions based on incorrect data  

This approach is clearly labor-intensive, error-prone, and not at all sustainable in today’s fast-paced print environment. Luckily, modern advancements in print MIS and ERP technology have helped printers bridge the gap between those data islands.  

7 Ways Better Data Integrity Can Improve Your Bottom Line  

So how does your business data stack up? One of the most common things we hear from companies that have implemented an MIS is what a difference it has made to their businesses to have real-time business and production data available for fact-based and timely decision-making. They can quickly see if sales activity is trending the wrong way, or if a particular press or operator isn’t performing as expected, or if work is stuck in the bindery and delivery dates are being missed.  

If you don’t have instant access to that kind of information, you end up making daily business infinitely harder than it needs to be. In the case of the pandemic, for example, immediate action was required for survival, and those with better data integrity and fewer data silos were able to persevere with ease. Here are 7 areas where accessible, accurate data will start to impact your print business:  

  1. Quickly recognize patterns and adapt to changing trends 
  1. Compare estimates vs. actuals for smarter planning   
  1. Easily identify bottlenecks and make improvements on the fly  
  1. Monitor print press and equipment performance  
  1. Track customer data and focus your energy on more profitable opportunities  
  1. Analyze employee productivity and provide more training where needed  
  1. Improve production efficiency and scale your operations   

Why Do Modern Printers Need Print MIS/ERP to Survive?  

The best way to ensure data integrity and faster, smarter decision-making is to properly implement an integrated print and business management solution. To help you get familiar with the technology and why print MIS/ERP solutions are integral in today’s market, we developed a detailed whitepaper with all the information you need.   

In this whitepaper, you will learn about: 

  • Print management information systems (MIS) and how they work  
  • The advantages of cloud-based MIS/ERP software 
  • 10 ways to assess your readiness for centralized print management technology  

Once you have reviewed the whitepaper and shared it with your team, we are ready to help you take the next steps that will strengthen and position your business for growth. Hopefully, we have helped you decide whether it’s the right time to invest in centralized print management software. If you would like to continue your research, we highly recommend reading “How to Select Print MIS/ERP Software That Fits Your Business.” It will help you learn more about selecting the right software for your print business (not the other way around) and prepare you for the next steps.  

Chris Young

Chris Young

Partner, Clients First Business Solutions New Jersey

Chris Young is your go-to resource for all things Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central at Clients First. Highly skilled in ERP solution architecture and financial planning, Chris has spent the last 30 years helping clients select and implement the right financial, manufacturing, and distribution software for their needs. When he’s not presenting to captivated crowds or sharing his knowledge through product demos, you can find Chris in the garage working on a car or fixing something around the house.