Managing Your Business’ Printing and Distribution Process

By:  Beau Artson

Are you a business that is in the manufacturing, distribution or selling of a product or service?  Does your company generate invoices?  This sounds like a very silly question, right?  Obviously, the answer to this is “YES” or you wouldn’t be in business!

After consulting with several companies, I’ve come to realize that there are some who have a great understanding of how to manage the processfor printing and distributing their documents (ex: invoices, pick tickets, purchase orders, and mission critical documents, etc).  On the other side of the fence there are companies who do not manage this process at all.  In discussing the latter, this is usually due to one or more of several factors:

  1. They have a legacy or back-end system that runs the business (AS400, MS DOS system).  These companies usually print all of their invoices on 3-part forms with loud impact line printers.
  2. Change. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of a process that might have been in place for 30+ years.  Printing to impact printers, manually collating forms for distribution, filing copies in filing cabinets are time-consuming and out-dated.   The new way is to print to a low-cost device or not print the document at all!  Sending invoices electronically, auto-archiving copies, electronically routing information to other departments is where business is going.  It’s not only more cost-effective and saves your organization time, but it’s better for the environment too.
  3. Cost. Rarely is moving to a new system not cost justified.  There are benefits that you may not have even considered such as employee productivity and pure dollar savings(lower cost imaging device, less paper, less electricity, etc.).

Let’s take a look at this more in depth and paint a better picture.

Step 1:    Data – Can be a signature or your current legacy system
Step 2:   Merger –  Merge the data with the newly created form or auto populate a pre- determined form
Step 3:   Route – Print the document or distribute

Considerations: Forms are extremely expensive,  line printers are slow and expensive to maintain.  Some of these 3-5 part forms can cost 35 cents a piece (depending on how complex they are).  Why not print to a low-cost plain paper device for under a penny a page or in some cases not print the form at all?

Potential Solutions:  Have a specialist consult with your business on your specific requirements.  They can help you find a solution that is right for you, such as finding a way to implement your existing, expensive back-end legacy system!  Implementing a software solution that can take this raw/ascii text data from your legacy system and place it into a newly created form is possible.

The Result:  All invoices are printed on plain paper at a fraction of the cost.  Additionally, you can determine whether you should route these invoices electronically to document management software (step #3 in diagram) for archiving, for customers e-invoicing, for routing to another department (ex: automatically route to warehouse to pick a part).

If this sounds like your organization you may want to consider forms management and document distribution software such as Prism DocForm or ObjectifLune PlanetPress. Also, make sure you talk with an experienced, professional vendor.  Selecting a vendor who is knowledgeable about looking for opportunities to help improve your business processes and reducing unnecessary costs is key.

Image Source:  Prism DocForm


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