Case Study: a Printing Company
An interview with the owner reveals some powerful benefits to hiring HighPower Data to use FileMaker to run your business
We sat down with Joe Cherrie, owner of a printing company, to discuss the ways that HighPower Data Solutions was able to assist them by installing a business SYSTEM using FileMaker Pro.
Now just to clarify, HighPower specializes in helping to automate businesses using FileMaker Pro. We build a FileMaker SYSTEM for businesses whom we help. SYSTEM stands for Saves You Stress, Time, Effort, and Money. Sometimes businesses are Stressed, because there is just too much stuff to keep track of. Sometimes the owner wants to save Time, because he may be running multiple companies, and wants each one to run more smoothly, and save him oversight time. Sometimes, a business needs to save Effort because there are so many, many tedious steps to each part of their business process, that they need something automated to move things along easily. And of course, everyone wants to save Money, so a system that cuts down on employee labor is always a money-saver.
So when this printing company approached us several years ago, they had been using an outdated ERP system that was supposed to be designed for their industry. But it was limiting, and did not fit their specific needs. So they asked us about building a custom solution perfectly tailored to their needs.
At the time, because of the inefficiencies of the old system, they were still pretty much a paper-based shop, for all intents and purposes. When a customer placed an order, then a printed work order for that project was created. And then they had a system where that piece of paper moved from department to department until it was completed. In fact, at the time, they had what they called the “work order wall”, which was a wall with plastic bins attached, one for each department. So they had seven bins, such as Design, Prepress, Printing, Cutting, Shipping, etc. As each department completed their part of the work, they wrote on the piece of paper, and then put the work order into the next bin on the wall for the next department.
This led to problems, however, such as each department writing on the work order, pretty much made it unintelligible after a while. There was so much writing on it, it was hard to tell what was originally asked for. And whenever rework was needed because of a mistake of some kind, the paper had to be placed back in a previous bin on the wall, and the work was started all over.
The system was completely dependent upon that one piece of paper not getting lost, misplaced, or stored up and hoarded by one department. And then there was the larger systems issue, that this piece of paper and the work done for it, was not tied into the payment and accounting system. So eventually, someone had to take all the items written upon that work order, and manually turn it invoice, enter it into the accounting system, and try to get paid. It was very tedious, time-consuming, and labor intensive.
What they needed was an integrated, digital system which coordinated all aspects of their business. That is why they came to HighPower Data Solutions. We like to say that “there is a better way to run your business“, and we can help you to find it.
The process of building a custom digital system begins with using Claris’ FileMaker Pro:
First, we took them through a Design Phase. During this phase we developed an Entity Relationship Diagram, and wireframe layouts, and an application description. Once these three documents were designed and approved we began the next phase, the Development Phase. This is where the bulk of the software engineering work took place. Upon completion of that work, we moved into the final, Deployment Phase, where we installed the software, and then began training, and testing, and tweaking to get it right.
One interesting aspect of the work we did was to recreate their “work order wall” into a digital form. We took the concept of moving a work order from department to department and simply made a large and colorful dashboard which they display on a large monitor in their business.
Now as each department finishes their work, they simply check off ‘done’ and it moves to the next department. Each department can easily see the notes and work performed by the previous department. There are no questions about what needs to be done, because that is all captured in the original work order line items and notes. The fees are clearly marked, and everyone knows what has been completed as it works its way through the system. On the digital “WOW”, one can see the work order number make its way across the board through each department. The digital WOW is also color-coded to alert the staff to any delays or deadlines for each project.
Here is what the owner had to say about the project once it was created by HighPower:
“I’d say that within 90 days our error rate went down 50%, so that meant price savings of an average price of several thousand dollars a month, and non-wasted materials. And since then we’ve been able to make refinements too. But that alone obviously saved us a great deal of money.”Joe Cherrie, Owner
The FileMaker SYSTEM built by HighPower ended up saving them Stress, Time, Effort, and Money. Since then, they have added many, many more improvements to their initial system. One major upgrade recently completed is a web-based customer portal, which allows select customers to place their orders online from any website. As soon as they click ‘submit’, the order is automatically created, and inserted into the queue with all the rest of the work orders! No employee time or intervention needed. The customer pays for it online when they place the order. This means there is one less invoice which the accounting department needs to chase down to get paid.
Joe was recently able to sell his business. He said that one of the factors which helped with the sale, was the fact that they had an automated digital system using FileMaker to run their business. So the system was not owner-dependent, thus making it a much more attractive business for purchase by the new owner.
The flexibility of Claris’ FileMaker Pro provides great options for almost any business that is looking to improve efficiencies, reduce labor costs and errors, and automate their business. Contact HighPower Data Solutions to discuss business automation for your company.