Another provider of workflow software, Xanté, provides a much shorter estimate of the time required to get a workflow system running. “Fifteen or 20 minutes,” says CEO Robert Ross. “I’m being honest. In 15 minutes, you would be expert, based on a Web demo we can offer or someone training you. It’s absolutely that quick to be productive. My theory about software is if it needs a manual or it’s not intuitive, it’s not finished. That’s how we wrote our IQ Workflow Software.”
Management and Skills Needed
Arieli believes two talents are needed to manage workflow software, and they can reside in one or more people. “You need IT knowledge, because you are physically integrating a system with networks and servers,” he says. “You need someone who knows estimating, scheduling, and knows the company’s production well. I’ve seen companies in which one person has both talents.”
The Pace system from EFI comes already integrated on one server, resulting in less need for IT knowledge, according to Arieli. “And more and more, we put the software on the cloud; we host the software and the data and connect it all to the Internet,” he adds. “So all their IT stuff and part of their production stuff, we do for them. That option is also available from EFI.”
Hughes notes that traditionally these software programs have been managed in the prepress area. But that’s changing, he adds. Workflow is defined as starting with estimating, continuing in order entry, then in prepress, pressroom, finishing, and mailing. “It’s not just prepress,” he says. “It’s not just the narrow view that it’s a prepress tool.”
In the prepress department, there is a skill required, and that’s the ability to handle application files, imposition, proofing, and color management and, ultimately, handle the export to computer-to-plate or other output device, he adds.
For his part, Ross says the truck driver of one of Xanté’s clients manages its Xanté IQ Software. “When he comes in, he looks in the queue, does the very simple color matching, and then releases the jobs for print,” he reports.
And as for any special skills required? “The ability to walk and chew gum at the same time,” Ross says. “We wrote our software so that someone coming in from the analog world can be comfortable with it. It’s obvious where everything is, so a person from the analog world could be effective within minutes, and everyone in the shop can use this, without any real special skills. If you’re not color blind, and can walk and chew gum at the same time, you can use our software.”