So you’re a traditional conventional printer. You have a mid-to-high level digital press capable of professional quality output. You’ve got desktop software and you’re more than capable of using it for VDP jobs and mailings. Let’s assume your prepress department handles the bulk of this kind of work. But how do you make better use of your investment and build more business on the digital side?
First and foremost, it’s not the equipment that’s going to get you the work. Everyone and their dog has digital capabilities or say they do. If their demand is limited, they outsource. But knowing the writing on the wall, you must be able to build more business on the digital side in house as this is where the market is headed and will end up.
There are two core critical assets you’ll need to execute a great web to print system. First is the web to print architect and to complement this person is the seasoned senior web to print engineer(s). A good digital web to print engineer is really a graphics person first and a web to print engineer second. He/She has had prepress experience, is expert in Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Quark Express, and has significant web exposure. It’s a foreign mix for traditional print concerns. The perfect person also is advanced in Excel and has a clear understanding of how relational databases function. (One cannot afford to pass the work back and forth between existing resources and still turn a nice profit.)
Integration with your current MIS and workflow is not only key, it’s critical to longevity and streamlined processes. If you have a great CTO/IT staff, then this is a snap. If you don’t, bringing this person on is critical to building the right architecture for the long haul. This person will know how to design and construct communication of all of the web to print components via web services and XML, understand multiple vendor APIs and how to architect a sustainable framework in the cloud. He/She will be able to design a scalable system that accessible 24/7 in order to service your largest clients. Once your architecture is built and your MIS talks to your web to print SaaS or server-based products, has plug and play capabilities for new unfolding technologies, then you are well on your way to servicing your clients in a whole new value-added way.
Making the most out of your web to print architecture is finding the right human resources, not the software, hardware or mailing capabilities (mail, insertion, list preparation, etc.). As an owner, one must go outside the lines and find these types as your business will morph into a services company while you’re still living in the traditional manufacturing process.