The Other Shop Software: Business and Management Software
More than 30 sources for business and management solutions that can make you more efficient—and profitable
It tends to get far too little attention at events like the SGIA Expo and the ASI Shows, and its slice of the pie is often equally small when it comes to publicity in general. You could easily make the argument that it is the Rodney Dangerfield of specialty graphics and screen printing.
We’re talking, of course, about business and management software. The right such software can make your shop not only an efficiency demon but also a more profitable operation—helping you to put in place systems, tools, and strategies that can make you more effective in costing and estimating, monitoring inventory, creating schedules, tracking jobs, automating shipping and fulfillment of jobs, and much more. And it typically allows you to do all of this seamlessly.
In our look at business-management software that follows, we’ve strived to focus on standalone tools that are primarily geared toward print providers (not generic business software), and we’ve pointed out when software is specifically engineered for screen printing or specialty graphics. We have not included RIPs that simply have business/management modules or features (but see the sidebar), nor have we included software aimed at production processes.
Created specifically for the signage and graphics industries, Activity Advantage allows users to create estimates and work orders; manage inventory, vendors, and ordering information; generate accounting and production reports; market to customers; export to Quickbooks; and track customer contacts and notes. It also allows for job-profit reports, automatic inventory updates, surcharge capability, and the ability to use the Art Approval and Estimates modules online. Its Shop Floor provides for the tracking of jobs through production, creation of time and productivity reports, and job scheduling.
Avanti Computer Systems
Avanti’s Slingshot incorporates business intelligence (CRM, dashboards, reporting) and production planning (estimating, automated purchasing, scheduling, sales orders), as well as warehousing, shipping, and billing into its platform. It leverages JDF/JMF and XML to communicate with key applications within the shop, such as web-to-print, production workflow tools, and post-press and production equipment. Slingshot can be Cloud-based or hosted on-premise. Various print-production modules are also available.
Bard Business Solutions
The company’s Enterprise Manager, designed for large-format printers, ad agencies, and design firms, is a database management system with modules including Contact Management, Rates/Products, Equipment, Employees, Estimates, Dockets, Production Scheduling, Costing, Time Sheets, Shipping, Image Storage, Purchase Orders, and Invoices. Also available: Digital Print Manager (for digital printers), Graphics Manager (for trade printers), Graphics Express (for print brokers), and more.
Flow+ is a business-automation control tool for wide-format printers, integrating MIS, CRM, and ERP tools. Its features include an intuitive quotation system, advanced cost visualization (production costs versus selling price per job), real-time inventory management (ink, media, and finishing materials), creation of purchase orders, live job tracking (production monitoring), direct information exchange with the RIP, and more.
CASper Eazynet Solutions
CASper on the Cloud sign-estimating software offers formula-driven estimating (including custom estimating). Features include project management (including maintenance and billing), job tracking, CRM, data mining, accounting, inventory control, shop management, production scheduling, and more.
Cibercat’s SeriPrix is a professional quotation system specifically designed for screen printing. Job components that can be controlled through the system include measurement and quantity of pieces, substrate, price and format, number of inks, cutting way, extra manipulation, waste, shipping, commissions, and more. The program supports multiple currencies, Internet integration, and network connectivity. Also available: CiberQuote 2.0, for sign making, which allows for quick generation of quotes, materials specification, billable works-time specs, payment methods, customizable quote formatting, and more.
Cloud 7 Systems
Developed specifically for large-format and specialty graphics, Printmatics manages estimating, cost analysis, inventory management and tracking, invoicing, A/R, production scheduling, shipping and distribution, customer information management, credit-card processing, and more.
CRC Information Systems
CRC’s Screen Printing Estimating system comprises tools and features designed to accommodate commercial flat-sheet and graphics screen printers. It can handle a wide variety of substrates and operations, the company reports. Features include screen printing estimating, online CRM tools, inventory management, low-cost production and automatic data collection, comprehensive accounting, e-commerce software, and more. The system’s dashboards utilize color, graphs, symbols, and charts to help users quickly and easily review data.
Cut-Estimator Pro enables users to project the cost of cutting/routing projects. The software utilizes material-specific values in defining cutting/routing methods, speeds, and tooling requirements for the machine used. Cost, sales price, and number of work hours needed for each project are then generated. The software can provide up to six alternative estimates based on different quantities, the company reports.
Cyrious Control offers Windows-based, customizable business-management systems designed for the sign, graphics, and printing industries. The software includes these tools: Sales Management, Estimate, Shipping, Invoice, Work Order, Track Jobs, Manage Production, Accounting, Inventory and POs, Marketing, and others. Its Cyrious Online allows shops to set up websites for each major customer or customer group, create account-specific products, process orders and payments, and more.
DiMS! business-management software is designed to streamline and automate a range of administrative and printing processes. Modules include: Sales/CRM, Estimating (with an Estimating Wizard that integrates job ticketing and cost accounting, Order Management, Planning, Purchase/Inventory, Scheduling, Production, Shipping, Accounting, Finance, Management, Plant, Customer, Supplier, Carrier, and others. It’s JDF-compliant.
The DynamicsPrint solution handles various aspects of a print job, from estimating and scheduling to shop floor and fulfillment. Print-specific modules include Advanced Estimating, Sales Order Generation, Automated Scheduling, Shop Floor Control, and Workflow Management. Financial-management modules include Financial Accounting, Assets Accounting, Personnel Management, and Value Added Revenue Calculation. Other modules are Purchase Planning, Logistics Planning, Fulfillment, Marketing, and Contact Management.
EFI offers several business-management solutions applicable in specialty-printing companies. Its Pace is a browser-based print-management system for mid- to large-sized printing businesses with any combination of digital, wide-format, and litho operations. The JDF-certified Pace comprises tools for estimating/quoting, job control/scheduling, production/costing, shop-floor data collection, inventory management, purchasing, CRM/sales management, financial management, and business analysis.
PrintSmith Vision is a flexible business-management product that offers estimating, point-of-sale, account management, production management, receivables, and sales-analysis tools on a new, browser-based platform. It includes tools for estimating/quoting, production scheduling, order management, shop floor data, financial management, management reporting, and credit-card processing. PrintSmith Vision is available in Full and Digital (smaller-scale) versions.
EFI Monarch is a print MIS and planning solution for large printers with single or multiple plants. Scalable to 5000 users, it allows users to efficiently manage projects ranging from basic to complex, with these core modules: Acquisition, Estimating, Planning, Scheduling, Production, Inventory/Fulfillment, Financial, Business Intelligence, and Custom Support Services.
Enterprise Print Management Solutions
Enterprise 32 is a PC-based print-management system. Modules include Data Collection, Invoicing, Purchasing, Financials, Inventory Control, Job Costing, Scheduling, Finished Goods Inventory, and Estimating/Order Entry. Users can also create custom reports. Also available is an Accounting Suite (receivables, payables, a general ledger, and a cash manager). Enterprise.net is a web-based suite that manages internal and external e-commerce activities, allows customers to request quotes, place orders, track orders, view status of finished-goods inventory, and proof in PDF format.
Specifically geared for signage estimating and pricing, EstiMate is a pricing and management system with features including instant quotes, an hourly rate estimator, open-estimate manager, job conversion reports, job tracking, automatic customer deposits using Quickbooks, invoicing, inventory management, and more. EstiMate is available in Professional and Enterprise editions. (The Enterprise edition adds shop-management features including purchase orders, job tracking, invoicing, work orders, and more.)
Estimator Cloud is designed for wide-format operations as well as commercial printers. Standard reports include Estimate, Job Ticket, Internal Detailed Costs and Profit, Paper and Services POs, Workflow Production Scheduling, Job Locator, and Invoice and Shipping Labels. Wide-Format Estimator adds features such as Square Foot Pricing, Variable DPI, 2-Side Printing, Finishing, and others. Estimator Remote Access (ERA) is standard, allowing for remote access from Android devices, iPads, and Apple or PC computers.
Franklin Estimating Systems
Franklin offers several print- and signage-specific tools. Franklin Estimator generates detailed estimates, custom job tickets, invoices, and corresponding reports. Rates can be adjusted and customized. Franklin Anywhere includes CSR Manager, JobScheduler, RFQ (for quotes/estimates), and TimeLog. Also available are Web2Print, DigiGuides/DigiGuides QP, and a QuickBooks module.
Hybrid’s FaceLift is a tool for entering, tracking, and interacting with production data, including real-time scheduling. FrontDesk allows a shop’s customers to place, track, and manage all of their orders. PipeLine maps data between all of a shop’s systems, acting as a translator to integrate platforms.
Created for custom-manufacturing companies using standard PCs, including those in signage and graphics, TQT software allows users to build a database of sales leads and customers; create job quotes, production schedules, invoices, and accounting reports; generate and track job tickets; and customize automatic alerts. Other business-management functions include human resources, e-commerce, and inventory.
KeyedIn Sign Edition is a web-based business-management solution for the custom-sign industry. Modules include: Estimating, CRM, Advanced Accounting and Cash Management, Reports/Analytics, Service Calls, Supply Chains, Sales, Cost Tracking, Shop Floor, and Project Management.
MetaCommunications’ Workgroups DaVinci is a process and productivity-management software suite addressing four major tasks: project management (CRM, workflow scheduling, workload indicators), online proofing and review, digital asset management (auto track, organize, and share assets), and financial management (estimates, quotes, proposals, time tracking, procurement, job-costing, accounting integration, and more). Workgroups DaVinci can be installed on-premise or in the Cloud. Also offered are standalone products including Job Manager and Virtual Ticket.
MyOrderDesk is a web-to-print storefront solution for print providers. Modules include ezMerge personalization, PDF2U for auto PDF files/proofs, DocMart inventory management, QwikPrice pricing module, HighVolume advanced tools, PrintNewz marketing system, and others.
Prestige Scheduler is a production planning and tracking system designed to track jobs from order through completion. The program can stand alone or connect with other production-order and shop-floor systems and can be used in monitor mode or as a web browser. Components include a Work List, Job Browser, and Variable Labor Scheduling (which supports complex labor constraints such as multiple shifts, automatically adjusting a shop’s plan and resources based on available operators and skills). Prestige Scheduler’s terminology can be customized to match that of the shop.
The PixtaFlow Cloud-based ERP system includes its Estimator tool, engineered for quick and accurate quotes for large-format digital printing. Other PixtaFlow features include job management, QuickBooks integration, a digital storefront, web-based large-file transfer, and more. Its PixtaStudio, formerly a standalone product, has also been rolled into PixtaFlow and includes PixtaFlow Job Management and PixtaCatalog Digital Storefronts. Also offered is PixtaSynapse, a large-file transfer solution.
The company’s Track-it software allows users to manage production time and jobs. Features include time management of jobs in production, management of production resources, cumulative-time reporting, automatic creation of job data, historical search functionality, and more.
E Pro Lite, a print-management solution, is designed for digital, commercial, and litho print providers. Capabilities include estimates, order management, purchase orders, inventory, production scheduling, packing slips, delivery scheduling, and invoicing. E Pro Core and E Pro Enterprise add accounts integration; E Pro Enterprise also adds finished goods and data capture.
The company’s Presidio print-management solutions for commercial and in-plant printing operations can stand alone or be integrated in any combination. Available modules include: Estimate, Job Control, Schedule, Shopnet (which allows users to capture production data in real time), Accounting, Inventory/POs, eCommerce, and Finished Goods (for inventory and fulfillment).
PrintPoint 6.5 estimating and management software is a customizable, print-management solution for small and medium-sized commercial, in-plant, large format, and digital printing operations. The latest version has 50 new features including a redesigned interface, Visual Scheduler 2, RFQ, updated estimating and quote capabilities, invoicing (by unit and job), web to print, and more. A Large Format module is available.
PrintStar allows users to create a customer-contact database; track inventory, job costs, and profitability; generate estimates; assign, schedule, and track jobs; create purchase orders and invoices; and warehouse, track, and ship finished goods. Other features include dashboard statistics, web-press module, jobs from templates, estimate attachments, enhanced Quickbook integration, and more.
RealTimeDesigner is an e-commerce solution for sign shops, printing companies, and promotional-products decorators consisting of several modules that can be integrated into an existing website or as a standalone web solution. Users can configure it to handle an array of customizable products including signs, shirts, promotional items, banners, mugs, and more. Features include Catalog Builder, Pricing Matrix, Shipping Options, PDF Generator, Artwork Templates, and others.
Onsite 7 is a business-management tool designed specifically for screen printers, embroiderers, promotional-product distributors, award manufacturers, and digital-print operations. Built on the Filemaker platform, Onsite addresses sales, accounting, and production functions, as well as shipping and purchasing. Also available is ProofStuff, a web application that allows for managing proof generation, approval, and follow-up.
SignVox is a Cloud-based, comprehensive business-management system specifically built for the sign industry. Features include quoting and invoicing, sign pricing, purchase orders and material requisition, online proofing, QuickBooks integration, business intelligence, employee and customer management, vendor management, and more. Add-on modules include Vehicle Wraps, pocketVox (for smartphones), and Customer Feedback (to improve the customer experience).
PressWise is a browser-based print-workflow system that includes print-estimating and quoting tools, order management, production management, shipping and fulfillment, Web-to-print storefronts, and optional mail processing. The software is available in Cloud and self-hosted versions.
Printer’s Plan allows print shops to prepare estimates, enter work orders, schedule, and invoice jobs, and collect receivables. Components include: Scheduler, TimeTracker, JobTracker (a visual presentation of where each job is in the shop), ShippingLabels, Barcode Support, and more. Its e-business tool allows customers to place orders, request quotes, proof artwork, send and receive files, track work in progress, and view job history.
Midnight Fulfillment is a fulfillment-management system that allows shops to implement a web-based solution that addresses warehousing/warehouse management, postage and freight tracking, order entry and management, kit assembly, management reports, web storefronts, and more.
Some RIPs also feature modules for managing business and/or job functions. Here’s a list of companies producing third-party RIPs not covered in the body of the article.
• CadLink (www.cadlink.com)
• ColorBurst (www.colorburstrip.com)
• ColorGate (www.colorgate.com)
• DigiFab (www.digifab.com)
• Eisfeld Datenechnik (www.posterjet.com)
• Ergosoft (www.ergosoftus.com)
• Four Pees (www.fourpees.com)
• Fusion (www.fusionsystems.com)
• GMG (www.gmgcolor.com)
• Onyx (www.onyxgfx.com)
• SA International (www.thinksai.com)
• SCP Software (www.scp.de)
• Serendipity Software (www.serendipitysoftware.com.au)
• Valloy (www.topazrip.com)
• Wasatch (www.wasatch.com)
• Xante (www.xante.com)
• Xitron (www.xitron.com)