New MIS Leavens Our Daily Bread’s Workflow
Every fall, Our Daily Bread Ministries produces a fundraising calendar—a popular item among its members. It is printed and mailed inside the non-denominational, non-profit, global ministry’s 25,000-square-foot print facility, located on the southeast side of Grand Rapids, MI.
Despite the calendar’s popularity, the ministry was unable to systematically measure the entire project from beginning to end against its donation base. This included both tangible and intangible costs such as printing and materials, postage, administrative costs and third-party resources.
Given the breadth of products produced by the in-plant’s 70 employees—including millions of devotional booklets and soft-cover books each year—and the ministry’s global presence, the organization needed a management solution that could not only manage the printing requirements of the individual items, but also provide the production staff with a comprehensive, real-time view of the project as a whole, including costs.
“Each mailing project is made up of individual components like booklets, brochures, address cards and envelopes,” says Ron Underwood, Supply Chain Team Lead for Our Daily Bread Ministries. “Our challenge was how to oversee the entire project, with each component having individual requirements. We needed the ability to measure … everything.”
A Substantial Operation
Our Daily Bread Ministries boasts a substantial in-plant, with a Harris M1000 web press, an Akiyama J Print 40 sheetfed press and two HP Indigo digital color presses (a 7000 and a 5500).
It also offers traditional booklet stitching and folding, as well as digital perfect binding and booklet stitching. Since 2011, the plant has grown by 10 percent.
A bulk of Our Daily Bread Ministries’ production costs support a direct mail workflow. Its main objective was to capture the scheduling and cost performance of all of its mailings. Though the in-plant had access to information coming from a variety of departments, the data was difficult to organize.
“We had postage stats in a spreadsheet over here, our third-party inserter had its own measurement over there, but there was no holistic view in terms of management,” says Underwood. In addition, the ministry was re-organizing work roles to further streamline efficiencies, yet they were missing the key component in the cost collection and tracking paradigm.
Although the ministry looked at several Print MIS vendors, it chose Avanti Slingshot. Because the in-plant has been an Avanti Classic client since 2006, it was familiar with Avanti’s commitment to product improvement and the personal attention it offers to help customers get the most out of its software.
“We felt that the approach Avanti took in rewriting Avanti Slingshot from the ground up was the right one,” declares Underwood.
Our Daily Bread Ministries liked the user interface for its simplicity and organization. The fact that Avanti Slingshot is browser-based was particularly appealing.
“There are tremendous advantages to a browser-based solution,” he continues. “The visibility we get from real-time access to our information from both within—as well as outside—the plant is game-changing.”
The ministry notes several reasons an upgrade to Slingshot was the best decision:
- In the past, Our Daily Bread was not able to combine its various mailing components into one order; with Slingshot the ministry can streamline production with a single sales order.
- The new user interface requires less training, further streamlining production.
- Slingshot also offers improved estimating standards.
- The new system gives the ministry access to a variety of modules like order entry, shipping, billing, job ticketing, shop floor collection, inventory, scheduling, purchasing and CRM.
The Impact of the Upgrade
The move to Avanti Slingshot laid the foundation for improving the ministry’s mail management processes. The ministry now has real-time access to all costs, from setup to fulfillment, and visibility into where it aligns to each specific mailing. This enables it to set goals for improvement, flexibility and efficiency both in scheduling and costs. With the ability to capture scheduling and cost data, the ministry is in a much better position to identify cost-savings opportunities as well as to analyze and set goals for future growth, retention and membership loyalty.
“Avanti has been very responsive to our requests,” admits Underwood. “It is clear they have a passion to make their system the best on the market, and have a desire to treat every customer request with respect and dignity.”
Having an in-house print operation rather than working with an outside printer brings many advantages to Our Daily Bread Ministries, Underwood says. The team can carry out the mission of the ministry more thoroughly than an outside printer because it is familiar with the ministry. Additionally, the in-plant’s equipment was specifically designed to meet the ministry’s production needs and its team is able to respond to changes quickly and efficiently due to its proximity to the workflow.