Wide-format imaging professionals who make plan room services available to their clients often report reaping different benefits from the software. And many wide-format pros also use different strategies in charging customers for plan room services.
In the pages to follow we examine the approaches of several wide-format shops when it comes to using, benefiting from and pricing plan room software services.
Satisfied users of IDEAL PlanRoom include ABS Repro, a Fort Washington, PA-based blueprinter with two Philadelphia area shops focused on the construction trade.
"At the time we selected it at the end of 2003, IDEAL had one of the most comprehensive solutions available," says chief operating officer Jeff Markovitz. "They're reprographers themselves. They understood the requirement the software has to meet, both for themselves and their clients. They had software that made sense for both our clients in the construction trade, and for us who have to use, operate and update it."
Another reason for choosing IDEAL PlanRoom, Markovitz says, was that it was evident IDEAL would remain a partner with ABS Repro, working with the reprographer to help build out the application over time. "We looked at all major plan rooms, and it was the clear choice for an independent reprographer," he says.
Markovitz praises IDEAL PlanRoom for giving ABS Repro's clients 24/7 access to all their projects, as well as providing "exceptional granularity" to both ABS Repro and its clients on all projects. The software tracks every activity on the plan room, enabling clients to monitor what was sent, and to whom and when. IDEAL PlanRoom also permits the tracking of full details on any bid in progress, as well as how subcontractors are using the plan room on their projects. "It's instantaneous, up to date, and keeps them informed in a way they wouldn't be otherwise," Markovitz says.
Also benefiting ABS Repro is the fact IDEAL PlanRoom permits the company to brand the plan room as its own, and to customize it to meet specific client needs.
"It is easy to navigate and easy to use," he says. "But because the application provides a huge number of tools for clients, it does take them time to familiarize themselves with all the different ways it can be of benefit. And we are very active in providing training and support to all our clients to ensure they get maximum benefit."
ABS Repro provides on-site training for individuals and groups, and also delivers support by both phone and Internet. In no time at all, clients are up to speed, and are able to view, order and download drawings, Markovitz says.
The training essentially provides clients with awareness of the plan room software's advanced features. The goal of ABS Repro is to make clients aware those tools are part of the software for their benefit. "It's not a question of teaching them how to use them, but showing them how they can benefit from them," Markovitz comments.
Finally, IDEAL PlanRoom offers something that ABS Repro found nowhere else: the availability of customization for individual clients. In other words, the reprographer can tailor its plan room offerings to meet the needs of a specific client. As a result, Markovitz adds, "I'm not saddled with a one-size-fits-all solution."
Other Plan Room Software
Meanwhile, as an ARC Company, Georgia Blueprint uses ARC's proprietary PlanWell software for its plan room services. "We use it as a document management tool to manage our workflow and make it easier for our clients to distribute their documents," says Dan Stephens, region president for imaging technologies + Georgia Blue with the Alpharetta, GA-based 230-employee, 100-year-old shop focused of wide-format color.
"It's real user friendly, with lots of components that allow for bidding documents."
Georgia Blueprint's PlanWell administrator John McEntyre says the software helps the company standardize operations by centralizing all its locations through document management.