From Manual Labor to Digital Ease
For Dayton, Ohio’s Montgomery County Board of County Commissioners, keeping track of incoming jobs used to require a lot of manual labor. Every order was tracked in a spreadsheet; someone had to manually enter orders into that spreadsheet; someone had to keep track of where the funds were coming from (and know what to do when needed funds weren’t in the department’s account); and someone had to manually create and track changes to orders and contracts.
“You can imagine how much time all that took,” says Paul Jones, material services manager of Graphic Design, Printing & Mailing Services.
Fortunately, Jones had implemented Web-to-print (W2P) software at Ashland University when he managed the Ohio school’s in-plant. So when seeking a solution to streamline the print process for the Board of County Commissioners, he didn’t hesitate to point the management team toward Print Shop Pro (PSP) from edu Business Solutions.
“We had a demo with several of the staff, and they all asked ‘Why didn’t we buy this to begin with?’” he says.
In January of 2023, the 13-employee in-plant (which ranks No. 6 on this issue’s Sales per Employee list) did just that, working with edu Business Solutions to integrate the old systems into PSP. The final solution went live across the organization in August of 2023. It immediately took off, with more than 1,500 print orders coming in and being processed through PSP in just the first few months.
“It has been a huge time savings,” says Jones, adding that the administrator who handled that data management previously can now run regular reports to see the status of all print jobs at a glance. “We get more details for every order, and any questions can be researched immediately. Before, we had to go back and find the printed job ticket and track anything that way.” Having all that information consolidated into one place, where it is easy to use, has been a “huge benefit for us,” Jones notes.
Making Lives Easier
But W2P didn’t just make life easier at the in-plant, it also simplified ordering and job tracking for the various departments serving the Board of County Commissioners for the single largest county in Ohio.
“We were using a four-part form, and each job we had to send parts to all these different departments,” Jones says. “We could be getting orders from all of them, and they weren’t in any order, so the records didn’t make any sense. Now with Print Shop Pro, they can all see their orders in one place, so we get less phone calls and questions — they have all the information they need at their fingertips.”
Another big benefit is that PSP won’t allow jobs to be submitted with missing information, which Jones notes used to happen often, as departments would forget to include information such as the cost center the job should be billed to. It could also become a bit of a mess, he notes, with the fourth page of a four-part form getting hard to read. Then staff would have to track down missing information before the job could even be put into the queue.
“Now it’s all uniform and really clear. We can pull reports for the administrator of the county,” he says, to show exactly what is being run and how much is being billed. In fact, it has already allowed Jones to demonstrate the justification for the new Quadient DS75i folder/inserter the shop installed in June, as well as a new 64" wide-format printer he plans to acquire. He can now give solid data showing how the equipment will benefit the county.
“We were also tracking all our inventory and paper by hand,” Jones notes. This was moved to Print Shop Pro, not just for the in-plant, but for the various county departments to use too.
“We’re adding more products slowly, but now everyone can order directly, and they like that. In just two minutes, they can have an order [for paper] in, the cost center is already there, and it’s less money than buying it from Staples. We’re getting more copy paper orders just from having that in Print Shop Pro as well.”
The results of installing W2P — and PSP in particular — have been noticeable for the Montgomery County Board of County Commissioners and its in-plant. It has freed up Jones’ administration team to focus on the financials to ensure the in-plant is where it needs to be at the end of the year.
“We’re a [cost] recovery model,” he notes, “so all our salary and expenses have to be covered — we don’t get any additional funds.”
W2P has also allowed the in-plant to bring more outsourced work in-house, and it has freed up workers to take on more jobs that require folding, mailing, and inserting, which all had to be outsourced previously. In fact, Jones notes that of the 10-15 large projects the in-plant usually outsources, it only had to send one out this year — and he hopes to bring that in-house next year.
Jones’ newly freed-up time is what got him looking at wide-format printers, since his team has started to get more orders for posters, signage, and canvas pictures lately.
“You just buy the equipment, and wide-format just grows and grows,” he observes.
This is all possible because W2P has streamlined the in-plant and made everything run faster, smoother, and more efficiently.
Easy Access to Data
Jones can’t stress enough that every in-plant should be looking into W2P.
“If nothing else, it’s being able to report back to the people who make the big decisions,” he says. “Because you can say ‘Oh, we did 50,000 jobs,’ but how do you prove that? Show me the data that proves it. Or ‘We did 2,000 offset jobs, and 80,000 sheets of this specific paper.’ If you’re just saying that, it’s one thing, but if you can show them, with database information, that’s even more important than the day-to-day running of the in-plant.
“I can say anything I want, but what if that manager says ‘Prove it?’ Are you going to give him a 1,000-page Excel document, or a report from a database that shows why you need that new equipment, or proves your existence as to why they have an in-plant?” Jones continues. “And you can run that on a daily, a monthly, an annual basis, where using a spreadsheet it could take you a month to prove your year. I can find all that in five minutes.”
In the end, Jones notes, “It’s a night-and-day difference. You need to get with the 21st century — you need to be the Amazon of printing for your organization. That’s part of building trust with your customers — the easier you make it, the more orders you’ll get. Build the trust.”
And that, he says, all starts with having a good W2P solution as the backbone to the entire in-plant operation.
Related story: New Digital Press in Ohio Will Keep Work In-house