HP SmartStream Production Center Gets it Right

Posted on by Greg Cholmondeley | 2 Comments »

HP has a workflow automation and management solution out called HP SmartStream Production Center which really does some things right, indicating that “they get it.” Sure, it does prepress automation, has a graphical workflow programming system, and has all the usual features and functions to automate production workflows. But, it also goes a step beyond that with two capabilities that are especially well done: workflow management beyond prepress and highly customizable dashboards. PODi members can read the full product briefing online at the PODi website, but let me share my thoughts on why these last two points are so very important.

Yeah, I understand that prepress is the area where workflow automation is most valuable – but the workflow doesn’t stop there. There is also production, various post-press operations, packing and shipping. Perhaps these can’t be highly automated, but tracking and managing these workflows is very important.

Also, automation affects the prepress department and eliminates tasks but really doesn’t require much of an interface once it is set up. After all, the goal is to minimize prepress staff touches. However, managing workflows and the documents in them does involve staff interaction in ways that vary by role. Combining end-to-end workflow coverage with tailored dashboards creates some very powerful use scenarios. For example:

  • A CSR, with a high-strung client on the phone, might want to be able to locate where all their jobs are to soothe their concerns. Being able to say, “yes, it should be delivered on time and, in fact, is being packed right now with only 3 jobs in front of it” is a lot better than simply saying “don’t worry, it’ll be there” or “I don’t know.”
  • Sales reps might want to be prepared with a client’s current job situation and job history before walking in the door on a call.
  • A bindery manager might want to look at the workload coming her way to determine if she needs to bring in extra help tomorrow.
  • An operations manager might want to get a count of how many jobs are in various production stages to determine where bottlenecks are occurring and whether anything needs to be adjusted.
  • All departmental managers will want to identify jobs that are late or are at risk of being late to reprioritize their workload.
  • Senior management will want quick views of production volumes, delayed jobs and other information to make strategic business decisions.

I’m sure you can imagine other uses as well. The point is that once workflows are managed and production data is gathered from start to finish, that data can be used by many more staff members than prepress operators. It provides valuable information for sales, scheduling and business decisions that can create a real competitive edge.

As you can see in the video, the HP SmartStream Production Center provides dashboards that users can customize to access the information they need in the formats they need. Summaries and graphs will convey some information much better than tables while detailed lists will be essential for others. HP seems to be getting this right. They’re making their dashboards look and operate much more like something you’d find on an iPad rather than in Excel. I wish more workflow solutions would embrace this approach, and expect they will in the future.

What do you think?

2 Responses to “HP SmartStream Production Center Gets it Right”

Comment from Davide Maggioni
Time January 15, 2014 at 11:34 am

I think that Production Center is the must have solution for the psp that use a web to print system and also for the psp that handling up to 200 jobs a day, this solution can give a powerfull help on the automation flow from prepress to delivery, you can easily see where your jobs are in the production flow and you can see it in a real time, you can have all information abuot a error or warning in the flow and avoid any waist of time and paper to reprint jobs. The JDF technology allow all integration with the prepress system and with the digtal press and finishing. last but not least the production center could be integrated with the Enfocus switch in order to have a fully automation flow.
I know that i work for the hp indigo and maybe my comment might seem a marketing comment but this is a very powerfull solution

Comment from Roger Schutte
Time February 6, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Hi Davide,

Can you contact me regarding Switch Integration? Thanks.

Roger Schutte

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