I Didn't Know We Could Do That
With the EFI Connect user conference starting next Tuesday in Las Vegas, this is a good time to examine the value of user conferences, particularly for Web-to-Print and MIS users.
"I have found the users group conference to be an invaluable experience, and I would highly recommend it to any level of Avanti user," raves Karen Meyers, business manager at Michigan Farm Bureau Centralized Print and Mail Services, and a frequent attendee of the Avanti User Conference. "I always return to the office with different ideas or methods to implement in the system, and some of them have been significant time savers."
That is one of the key benefits attendees cite: learning new tips and techniques for getting the most out of their software. Often, attendees find out about features they didn't know they had. User conferences can also be an opportunity for training.
"The edu [Business Solutions] user group conference is not only a gathering of other users, the company also uses this opportunity to do onsite review/training based on the recommendations from [a] committee of users," notes Danelle Sedore, of Grand Rapids Community College. "I really like the last day of session where the group creates a the wish list for the following year."
While the edu Business Solutions and Avanti user conferences are more intimate affairs, EFI Connect attracts over 1,000 users. One of them will be Jimmy Vainstein, senior project manager at The World Bank Group, who is heading to Vegas next week.
"At these events you get to meet actual users of systems or equipment you are implementing or even exploring for future investments," he says. "The latter proved to be an excellent way of gathering useful information when we were exploring our investment in EFI’s Pace MIS. The conference allowed us to gather real feedback straight from the source."
User conferences are a mixture of educational sessions and peer roundtables, where other users reveal ways they are using the software to be more efficient and maximize ROI. Being able to talk one-on-one with software company experts is invaluable.
“Attending the Avanti user conference has helped my company tremendously,” praises Scott Williams, CEO of Taylor Printing Group. “Between meeting all the other users, the educational sessions and round table discussions, the information flowed freely and continued even after the conference. Combined with having access to Avanti experts in one place to answer questions, I consider the conference a must-attend event.”
One company with a different take on user groups is Rochester Software Associates, which brings the user group to the in-plants. It holds user group meetings at Graph Expo and during IPMA and ACUP conferences.
"We know that in-plants can’t usually travel for a conference, so we try to have sessions during events where in-plants will already be in attendance," notes Elisha Kasinskas, marketing manager at Rochester Software Associates. "We’ve also found it effective to offer online sessions covering a variety of topics of interest to our users. We record as many of all of our sessions as possible so that in-plants can fully leverage the information we and other users provide in these informative sessions."
Coming exactly a month after EFI Connect next week, edu Business Solutions will host its fifth annual Print Shop Pro 2017 User Group Meeting from March 19-21 at the Kona Kai Resort & Spa in San Diego. The focus will be on how to use the Web-to-print system to reduce costs, increase productivity and improve customer service. Many in-plant managers will be giving presentations. One big topic this year will be how to prove your value to your parent organization. Also, Mike Strand, edu President, will discuss some of many the new features and enhancements to Print Shop Pro.
Then from May 23-26, the Avanti User Conference will take place at the Grand Hyatt in Denver. It will feature concurrent tracks for both Avanti Classic and Avanti Slingshot customers. Avanti experts will be on hand to answer questions and reveal hidden gems, tips and tricks.
"The networking with Avanti staff and other users is always a highlight of the conference," affirms Meyers.
“Avanti and the user group executive committee remain focused on delivering relevant, educational content that helps our community eliminate breakpoints, maximize ROI and achieve peak performance,” says Patrick Bolan, president and CEO of Avanti. “The conference is also a fantastic opportunity for our customers to help set the future direction for Avanti's software development.”
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.