Workflow Automation in a Job Shop Produces Unexpected Benefits

Posted on by Dave Erlandson | No Comments »

In PODi’s webinar, Workflow Automation – What Every Printer Needs to Know, sponsored by Xerox, Chris Bradshaw, GM of the AlphaGraphics franchise in Layton, Utah, took us through his journey to put workflow automation into his shop. You can watch a recording of the webinar by clicking on the webinar link

What makes Chris’ story so interesting to me is that he has successfully applied workflow software (Xerox FreeFlow Core) to his job shop environment. I often hear about the large volume shops applying workflow software and it works because they run a large number of jobs or have a large number of repeat jobs, making the ROI easy to justify.

But smaller volume shops often have an issue with the ROI calculation. And Chris will admit it took a lot of persuading and persistence to get the owner of the shop to invest.  What is interesting is that in addition to time savings per job (which Chris values at $5 per job) there was another round of benefits that were hard to quantify initially. Had he known the investment would have been a quick “no-brainer” for the owner.

Turns out that implementing automation reduced a large number of human touch points, which in turn eliminated a good percentage of the errors that they were dealing with on a daily basis. The brunt of these errors was handled by the CSR staff.  What Chris found out (through attrition) was that as the errors went away he could reduce his CSR staff by 2.  This savings was on top of the $5 per job savings mentioned earlier.

workflow

Another benefit that was a nice surprise was they can turn jobs faster, which is great for situations where the customer is in a big rush. This allows AlphaGraphics to provide improved service levels and offers a chance to secure additional margin on rush jobs.

Another tip from Chris is to make sure you have a solid champion for the new processes. Chris did note that implementing the changes to the workflow was harder than he thought it would be. Originally he thought that everyone would quickly see the value in the new way, but what he learned is that his team didn’t like change and change is scary. So he had to insist that everyone (no exceptions) use the new workflows and then overtime his team has come around.

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