Public transit systems, like subways, are remarkable for the ability to move large numbers of people throughout a city efficiently. For instance, the subway system in Tokyo, Japan, moves nearly 7 million people into and around the city during business days. The system works for several reasons. There are established routes, connection points, and schedules. There are timetables and route maps that clearly show how to use the system. Even tourists can quickly grasp where to go and how to get there. These same lessons can and should be applied to job onboarding in your print production automated workflows.

How do customers submit order requests along with their supporting artwork and data files? There is no single path, but there should be clear instructions and directions on how to make those submissions. Customers may use a branded, online storefront to order products, but many still come through your sales channels, most likely using email. The key is to get the minimum amount of information to accurately quote and produce the job using the minimum effort required by the customer and your staff. The side benefit is increased customer and employee satisfaction.

The best place to start is by evaluating your current set of print applications and documenting the specifications required for each. With criteria in hand, build processes and solutions to accurately and repeatedly capture the information needed for quoting and production. Two commonly overlooked solutions for capturing and standardizing customer requests are your web-to-print solution or the online customer portal of your Print MIS. These systems act like checklists for your customer support representatives (CSRs) and sales staff to submit orders on the customer’s behalf.

The customer’s artwork and data files also need documented methods for submission. Using email, FTP, or online file transfers is inefficient since your staff must locate, download, and transfer the files into your print production workflow. A better option is to use software solutions that are secure and can insert the customer’s files into the workflow for further procession and automation. Web-to-print solutions are designed for this type of job onboarding. Other automated workflows management solutions, like  Ricoh ProcessDirector™, can also monitor network locations to pick up files for routing and processing.

Your workflow should look like a subway map. Multiple job entry points with the ability to automatically route work to the final destination via multiple processing stops, some common and some unique, based on the requirements of the application. Streamlining and automating job onboarding decreases the costs associated with receiving customer orders and the likelihood of introducing costly errors. It also increases the amount of time your CSRs and sales staff have to focus on serving your customers — a key to building a workflow that is future-proof.

Be sure to check out Ricoh’s 6-part ecosystem series for in-plant and print service providers for more information on each stage of your print production and contact us if you have any questions.