What is The State of Your Workflow?
The doors opened at Cushing on October 1, 1929. Yes, twenty-eight days prior to the stock market crash. Our first client projects? Producing blueprints for the architects, engineering firms, and construction companies building the city of Chicago. 90 years later, many continue to be customers, and while we still provide drawings, their needs have evolved.
The transition from “blueprinter” to a branded display graphics provider ushered in a group of creative personnel who bring a different mindset to our workplace. These problem solvers are challenged on a daily basis, because no job is the same nowadays. With more nuanced projects and complex customer requests, the need for improved communication follows. Which means the workflow had to evolve as well.
While effective and in many ways reliable, our homegrown order and production system could not keep pace. With so many technologies, quoting standards, media types, and customer ideas (these days, our team gets requests to brand almost everything – we installed event graphics in a restroom last year!) our approach had to change. How could we create repeatable processes to make sure the easy jobs stay easy, while providing tools to manage complex requests?
Our search for a new MIS system began toward the end of 2018. How did we land on printIQ? They essentially checked all the boxes for a solution. The ultimate requirement was improved communication and creating the well-written work order. Our director of information technology, David Parkes, took on the role of project architect. He organized a team to incorporate all facets of the company, pulling from individuals across all departments. All told, it took about sixteen weeks to implement the new system.
The most significant change so far? We now have a single hub for communication. The new workflow is web-based and works off a single connected database for client information. It includes inventory, vendor information, purchase orders, and work orders, and it It has had a positive impact on invoicing and accounting. Not only do we now have a bi-directional integration between accounting and production, we have also found the new workflow decreased our overall spending.
The estimates for client projects, which are always unique, multi-faceted, and at times, challenging, have been simplified. From window graphics to custom books, product templates for frequently requested items are now available with a few mouse clicks, so while there will always be unique projects, every quote no longer needs to be built from scratch. And customers now have a simple method for viewing and approving proofs of their projects, anywhere, at any time.
Another significant goal of this transition was not driven by products or software specifications - it was about our people! Employee on-boarding, with all the variations of work we do, was a major consideration. There can be a steep learning curve understanding the intricacies of the jobs we produce, and already we are seeing new team members adopt our processes more swiftly and with far greater ease.
Who knows what interesting client request will come next? There are so many possibilities. Over the next few months (and into the next year), we’ll share more stories from the Cushing team, how employees are faring with the new MIS system, and of course lessons we have learned. For any graphic firms that want to talk with our team, please reach out!
As Cushing’s Executive Vice President, Joe Cushing oversees the management team and leads the overall direction of the organization. He has served as ReproMAX Chairman of the Board, supports numerous charities, and serves as the head of City of Hope’s Construction & Real Estate council (and received City of Hope Spirit of Life Award in 2017.)