The worst place for a bottleneck

Job Onboarding 4 min read , April 15, 2021

by Joana Silva, Product Manager, Enfocus

Guangzhou Train Station
Photographer: hiurich granja | Source: Unsplash

When print businesses are deciding where to spend resources, whether it be manhours or money, they search for bottlenecks. Their objective is to create and maintain a steady flow of jobs through their shop. At times, it seems like the bottlenecks are moving targets. It could be that certain job types are slower at certain points in production. As automation alleviates the human imposed clustering of jobs, workflow becomes more consistent.

The pressroom can’t keep up. Finishing can’t keep up. It could be said that having too many jobs to run is a good thing. But it’s not so good for customers. A more concerning location for a bottleneck, though, is at step one: job onboarding. If the entire shop is waiting for jobs to get past customer service, then immediate attention must be paid. A bored prepress staff is a very bad thing.

Frontline customer contacts don’t always have the skills or the tools to immediately inspect job files. This leads to a back and forth transaction from customer to customer service to prepress. This also ends up in a frustrating arrangement. Customers get annoyed at how long it takes to get verification of an accepted job. Prepress becomes bogged down with repeated checks and communications regarding the same job. Customer service is driven in circles coordinating the whole mess.

Repeatedly checking the same job files and explaining why it won’t print correctly gets under the skin of prepress. They need to get jobs ready for press. They need to create proofs. They need to drop what they’re doing to fix issues that arise. To move a PDF file check upstream to customer service would free up considerable hours in a prepress department. This isn’t to say that prepress skills won’t still be needed to nitpick complex files, but implementing a preemptive go, no-go check would be a great start.

Charging for preflight is an argument in itself. However, it’s difficult to accurately track and charge for time spent chasing, rechecking and explaining issues both internally and with customers. This is why business owners should not waste time trying to sort out how to handle it. It’s best to simply remove this cumbersome process and get rid of the opportunity for a bottleneck.

Customers are looking to get rapid, attentive, accurate service. Their experience with a business affects their buying decisions more so in today’s market. Every service provider is forced to deliver quicker, charge less and become customer-centric. Print service customers expect the same ease as they are getting while shopping elsewhere. Waiting for several hours, much less, several days to find out that they need to rework a file is unacceptable.

There is a brand-new tool on the market that alleviates the job onboarding bottleneck. It addresses the leading cause of customer service and sales having to loop job files between customers and prepress. By providing a PDF viewer that displays files as they would appear on press, it standardizes how a PDF looks regardless of workstation environment. So, operating system, software and settings are no longer uncontrolled variables. This new tool also displays color separations along with trim, bleed, and media boxes.

"When talking to customers, we noticed a lot of frustration among printers who are hindered by long turnaround times getting feedback from prepress before they can reply to a customer. This creates an enormous sense of frustration for both the customer and the printer, and has a knock-on effect in production and customer satisfaction. BoardingPass empowers customer facing staff to be able to easily analyse a PDF file and respond to a customer within minutes. Not hours or days." - Andrew Bailes-Collins, Senior Product Manager, Enfocus

Enfocus has been developing prepress software tools since 1993. They listen to and understand their customers. There was a need for a customer service friendly, job onboarding tool. So, Enfocus created BoardingPass. Enfocus BoardingPass allows customer-facing staff to instantly validate PDF files for print. Integrated with an email client, BoardingPass identifies errors that require a file to be resubmitted and automatically drafts an email reply. Customer service agents gain the power to provide quick and understandable job feedback.

BoardingPass checks for showstopping issues like missing fonts, missing bleed, low resolution images, and trim size. A job file can be printable, but not match the job ticket specifications. The best place to catch this scenario is before it ever gets to prepress. When viewing a PDF, customer service agents can immediately see page sizes and if they are consistent. This allows them to check file details against what is expected in regards to page count, number of colors, and which pages contain errors. BoardingPass also creates an easy-to-understand email draft, outlining the errors.

Integration with email clients means that users can drag and drop PDF attachments or WeTransfer links directly into BoardingPass. The sender’s email is open for reference and the PDF specifications and errors are in view together. Any issues can be reported by clicking one button to send a reply. If the file has no problems or needs a closer look, it’s just as easy to send the PDF with its report to prepress via email or local file server. Removing the job onboarding bottleneck couldn’t be simpler.