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Finding a Business-Software Solution

(May 2011) posted on Mon Mar 28, 2011

More than 40 solutions for the management side of your shop.

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Behind every great graphic is a skilled print shop, and behind every skilled print shop is an array of productivity-enhancing tools. In addition to the often flashy wide-format printers and other state-of-the-art hardware exists the slightly less-glamorous (but equally as essential) side of a shop’s toolbox: business and management software that helps bring jobs in and get them out.

Business-and-management software offers myriad capabilities–commonly including monitoring inventory to ensure there’s no delay from the time the order is taken; pricing and estimating jobs to earn the highest profit margin; producing production and employee schedules to be at your most efficient; automating the shipping and fulfillment of jobs to help ensure customers become repeat business; and much more. All in all, using business-and-management software can help turn an ordinary business into a well-oiled, productivity machine.

The list that follows is our annual look at business-management software. Keep in mind that we’ve strived to include only tools that are primarily geared toward print providers (not generic business software); we are not including software that’s primarily focused upon proofing, PDF, asset management, or variable data (although some of the tools in this list do offer some of these capabilities). And note that we’ve also included information on a trio of print-management tools—software that is not a RIP but does address production or workflow efficiencies.

www.Activity Software
Activity Advantage version 8.6, created specifically for the signage and graphics industries, allows users to create estimates and work orders; manage inventory, vendors, and ordering information; track jobs; generate accounting and production reports; market to customers; export to Quickbooks; and track customer contacts and notes. Additions to the latest version include job-profit reports, automatic inventory updates, surcharge capability, and ability to use Art Approval and Estimates online. Its E-Advantage meshes the Activity database with online business capabilities, allowing customers to approve files online and view orders, order status, estimates, and payment history; its Shop Floor component allows users can track jobs through production, create time and productivity reports, and schedule jobs.