The Most and Least Worthwhile Software?

Written by Howie Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant, NAPLchaos
As mentioned in a previous blog, we at NAPL are right in the middle of analyzing our latest research on which workflow software was considered to be the ‘most worthwhile’ and ‘least worthwhile’ investments. This research, sponsored by Xerox, will be available at Graph Expo later this year. Although our results are preliminary, we can start to identify some important trends.
For example, when participants were asked which software products they invested in, the top-five answers included: Web-to-Print, Print MIS, Prepress PDF workflow, VDP software, and Cross Media marketing software. When asked which investments were considered the ‘least worthwhile’, the top-four answers were: Cross Media marketing software, Web-to-Print, E-publishing software, and CRM software.
As you may have noticed, Web-to-Print was both one of the top-five investments and also considered to be one of the least worthwhile investments. If that was not confusing enough, it gets worse. When asked what was considered the most worthwhile investment, the top answer was Web-to-Print.
How can a software product be considered the most worthwhile investment by some and the least worthwhile investment by others? The answer is, for the majority who have been successful, it is considered a tremendous success, but for the minority who have failed, it is often considered a miserable failure.
This is consistent with the research we published late last year entitled, “Web to Print: the Promise, the Potential, and the Reality,” where we found vastly different levels of satisfaction among users. On the positive side, more than half of those surveyed said Web-to-Print has increased sales and two-thirds said it has streamlined their production workflows. However, on the con side, more than 80% reported that it has not met their expectations because it’s falling short in terms of client usage and the numbers of features customers’ access.
Success With Web-to-Print
If you’re one of the companies struggling to achieve success, there are two good webinars that can help demonstrate how leaders succeed with Web-to-Print solutions. On NAPL’s NewsTalk Live webinar in November, we learned the need for management’s leadership in addressing the implementation, sales issues and ongoing commitment to continuously encourage salespeople, customer service staff, and customers to use the technology.
The second is In-plant Graphics Magazine webinar “Get the maximum advantage from Web to Print”, which talked about the success that can be achieved by motivating the use of template-based design products.
One of the critical lessons learned from all the research between those who succeed and those who fail in the implementation of software is that it doesn’t work for everyone right out of the box. Leading companies are better at identifying the issues and working through them. For example, leaders are better at identifying the gaps between staff skill levels in those required to master the task and invest more in training or hiring appropriate staff. In a nutshell, it is leadership and hard work that results in success.
The question is how much time have you invested in achieving success with your workflow software? How successful or worthwhile do you consider your investments? What is missing in your implementation and sales efforts, which if added, would help you achieve success with your workflow products?
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Howard Fenton is a Consultant and Business Advisor at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on benchmarking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity through workflow management, adding and integrating new digital services, and adding value through customer research.

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  1. Chris Jordan August 21, 2014 -

    Hi Howie, I am not surprised by your preliminary findings. Most companies purchasing software have little or no experience of purchasing software, and treat it just like a hardware purchase that they are far are familiar with.
    Many consultants have advised PSP’s to do the following:
    1. Define your goals before you look at the software you need.
    2. Appoint someone in your company to be responsible for the complete process including requirements, purchase, training, tests, and pre production runs.
    3. Be aware that you are not purchasing a finished product, this is a project, and if it is a Print MIS or Cross Media project, it may take a year from start of installation to completion.
    4. For many PSP’s this is as difficult as a cultural change, and if successful will completely change their business.
    5. Be very wary of complex software that is bundled with hardware, particularly colour production print engines.
    6. If hardware and software are purchased together. Make separate individuals responsible for each, and never try and install both together.
    Chris Jordan ClearEdge Inc

    • Bill Michael August 21, 2014 -

      This is fantastic insight, Chris – thank you so much for taking the time to comment!


  2. Howie Fenton August 21, 2014 -

    Great insights Chris. We just published another blog asking “How does your investment in workflow software automation compare with your peers” Its available at –

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