Kevin Blakey, Product Director, Radius, EFI

Employee roles are too often tightly tied to experience and knowledge. If an estimator or scheduler goes on vacation (or retires!), most print and packaging companies don’t have an immediate replacement. It’s not a healthy situation especially as market expectations require you to respond faster and be more flexible regardless of your situation.

What’s the answer… artificial intelligence? Not yet. But you should be starting to merge technology with the intelligence and knowledge of your best employees. To minimize risk, you need to simplify work for those who are less skilled and those who will join your team in the future. Here are three things you need:

1. Key employee knowledge

You can probably count your most mission critical people on one hand. They play a role in every complex decision and have been with your company for so long that they know the best way to use every machine, all the custom pricing you have developed for your strategic customers, even how to best staff your production floor.

Now imagine that they all won the lottery and decided to go on a long trip to somewhere far, far away. Hopefully they would leave behind a small “thank you”, but you’ve still got a company to run and your customers aren’t giving you a break. You need to document your best practices and decision making rules and there’s no time to wait. People win the lottery every day.

2. The right technology

The right technology uses your business and production rules to make things simple and consistently profitable. EFI’s Productivity Software solutions are aimed directly at letting you merge your company’s intelligence and knowledge into your workflow.

How about an estimating solution like EFI iQuote that only asks you for key information about the product you need to produce. It then builds a production plan in seconds, ensuring the most profitable job route and visually showing it so everyone is on the same page. It’s a solution that lets you instantly compare costs for different order quantities, dynamically adjusts the workflow to produce each quantity most efficiently, and lets you see the impact on margins if you try adjusting selling prices. It also allows you to capture your business process logic for approval of pricing, production sign-off, or indeed any processes you want to preserve around estimating and production planning.

Don’t forget; simplifying work needs to happen along your end-to-end workflow from estimating through scheduling, production, shipping and accounting. That’s why EFI offers the Productivity Suite; an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) based workflow solution that lets you add components like iQuote as your business evolves.

3. Commitment and buy-in

Think of these as the glue that makes positive change possible. Commitment and buy-in need to start with company leaders and involve those mission critical employees mentioned above. It also needs to be communicated to hands-on employees and, at the right time, even to your customers and suppliers.

So how do you develop commitment, excitement and focus for a project? Of course working with the right technology partner can help because it’s not just about technology. Business operations analyses, change management consulting, solution implementation, working systems optimization… EFI’s services team only services the print and packaging industry and thousands of global implementations have us prepared to fuel your success.

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