Print Management Adds Value in Torrance
Since adding a print management solution, the City of Torrance's Central Services department has improved its workflow, job tracking abilities and ease of use for customers.July 2014
When Gerry Pinela took over as supervisor of Central Services for the City of Torrance, Calif., in June of 2007, the job submission process at the nine-employee in-plant was somewhat laborious. Customers filled out a three-part NCR form, and then the staff manually entered the job information into an Excel spreadsheet. The manual process was time consuming and lacked the tracking and reporting capabilities Pinela needed to effectively manage the workflow.
"Jobs weren't kept track of as accurately as we would have liked," he reflects.
It was not possible to break out costs by department/division/account number or by specified projects. What's more, email limitations prevented customers from sending large files to the shop, forcing them to burn files to a CD and walk it over.
To improve the shop's workflow, job tracking and ease of use for customers, Central Services implemented Print Shop Pro from edu Business Solutions in 2008. Since then, the city has been able to achieve 100 percent online order submission.
"Simply put, the system is easy to use," says Pinela.
A Balanced City
Torrance, the eighth largest city in Los Angeles County, has more than 1,600 employees across 14 different departments. The in-plant serves approximately 125 customers and produces more than 3,000 print jobs per year, with several months exceeding 350 job tickets. The shop prints a large volume of flyers for departments like Community Services, Parks and Recreation, Public Works and the Torrance Library. The City Council agenda, which can run hundreds of pages, is another big job.
Color printing makes up about 30 percent of the in-plant's volume, Pinella says. The fully digital operation includes a Konica Minolta bizhub Pro 6501, two Kodak Digimasters (a 9110 and a 9150), a Riso HC5500 inkjet printer for envelopes and letterhead, and a Riso black-and-white duplicator. The shop also has a 44˝ Epson Stylus Pro 9890 wide-format printer.
"We're doing a lot of posters that are mounted onto foam core," Pinela says. Banners are another popular item.
The in-plant has moved into other areas as well, such as scanning documents for archival and converting forms into fillable PDFs.
Path to Print Management
The in-plant's path to a print management software solution was a long one. Pinela's main objective was to implement an online order submission process for improved customer convenience and service. He also wanted to free up the print staff from having to manually fill out work requests and handle the high volume of customer phone calls.
Providing a centralized database and organizing the workflow from beginning to end was another of Pinela's goals. Also, he wanted robust reporting to provide him the management tools to effectively monitor the printing operation's productivity and break down costs by department, budget account numbers or by specified projects.
Pinela's predecessor had looked at Print Shop Pro and left information behind for him to review and investigate further. Even so, he evaluated five or six print management software solutions. Once potential vendors were identified, the staff from Central Services, along with IT and Finance participated in web demonstrations of a few different solutions.
Pinela was impressed that Print Shop Pro's online order submission component, PSP Webdesk, would provide customers with real-time job status, access to previous jobs and the ability to copy and resubmit them as new jobs. The system could also separate labor and materials, which he liked.
The implementation and rollout of PSP went smoothly, Pinela recalls, though it wasn't a quick process.
"It was very time consuming in the setup, but very well worth it in the end," he says.
The city's IT personnel were impressed with the ease of installation and how well the process was organized.
Since installation, Pinela says he enjoys the overall user friendliness of Print Shop Pro and the ability to create order categories and set up pre-configured stock and finish options. This has simplified the order request process for customers. In addition, the integrated email and template tools allow for better communication with customers. PSP helps to streamline the production work, resulting in a higher degree of accuracy and less confusion.
"There's no more lost job tickets," Pinela notes.
The shop can now receive larger files electronically. The PSP store provides a portal for customers to place orders for reams of paper and various forms.
Customers can now check the status of their jobs online and no longer need to bother the staff for updates. "It's reduced the number of calls tremendously," Pinela says.
Customers can also access their own order history, including attachments, and resubmit jobs. With the estimates being provided in advance, discussions and/or approvals can be obtained from superiors prior to submitting the print request.
Pinela also has easy access to detailed data for analysis and reporting. PSP's Template Builder module has helped him standardize the image of the city for business cards and letterhead.
As a cost-neutral operation with a goal of breaking even, Pinela was initially challenged with having the staff understand the importance of tracking time and materials. Print Shop Pro's ability to track labor and materials, capture data and provide reporting helped the in-plant justify its existence. The pricing feature has also helped cut waste and unnecessary costs by making customers more aware of the value of what they're ordering.
"It makes them more cost conscious," he observes.