by Dienamic MIS Software Inc.


Monday, December 20, 2010


By Mark Porter

As the old saying goes "When life gives you lemons make lemonade". This can be applied to the daily problems you encounter in your business.

Documenting and recording problems provides several benefits to your company and you can actually turn problems around to strengthen relationships with customers, vendors, employees and improve operating procedures.

Providing employees easy entry of information such as Job Number, Customer, Vendor, Employee, Department, Problem Type (Paper, MR, etc), Quantity effected, Problem Description, Problem Solution etc allows you to sort and analyze problems which can provide many benefits such as:

Don't Make The Same Mistake Twice
Becomes a Database of Problems and Solutions
Improve Relationships With Customer/Vendors/Employees
Documenting Problems Minimizes Damage

1. Don't Make The Same Mistake Twice

Another old saying goes "Your not stupid for making a mistake just for making the same mistake twice."

By recording problems against jobs you can be immediately notified when re quoting or rerunning that job of the issues incurred last time. At the estimate stage it allows you to re quote the job based on the previous information or at Order Entry you have the option to not proceed with the job if the customer is not willing to incur the extra costs this time around.

2. Becomes a Database of Problems and Solution

Recording problems and solutions builds a knowledge base that can be accessed by employees in the future. By entering the problems with data such as department, problem type employee etc allows us to shorten the solution time to similar problems in the future.

Combine this with the ability to add video and images of the problems/solutions to the database and you can learn from your previous mistakes.

3. Improve Relationships With Customer/Vendors/Employees

Generate a list of problems you have with good customers each quarter and then discuss those issues and offer solutions with the customer. Continually refining the working relationship between your company and customers allows you to produce higher quality, better priced and better serviced products for them. This strengthens the bond with that customer ensuring it takes a bigger mistake or price difference for them to take their business elsewhere.

The same logic applies to vendors and employees. By discussing issues with people you strengthen the working relationships to the betterment of your company.

Trends can be seen with employees and certain operations. Say an employee is always having problems with MR a certain product. Additional training can be provided. Trends with Vendor materials continually causing problems can be identified and rectified.

4. Documenting Problems Minimizes Damage

If nothing else documenting problems can save money and relationships in the event of disputes. The more documentation you have the more you reinforce your position to the other party in a constructive and articulate way. This can reduce or eliminate your liability and open the possibility to future business.

So next time you make mistake make your company stronger for the experience

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


By Mark Porter

Controlling your cash is vital in today's economy but you are probably also under staffed and over worked - a perfect combination that can lead to missing items that can greatly effect your cash flow.

Therefore it is vital that you have the check and balances built into your operations that will help avoid bad customers, missed charges, paying too much to vendors and maintaining cash flow.

We are not going to look at this topic from the accounting side. We will assume that everyone has an accounting system such as Quickbooks or Peachtree etc and is watching their aging process (the accounts not themselves). We will deal with the management side in this Blog.

Avoid Bad Customers: Debt from one Bad Customer can wipe out profit from a lot of Good Jobs so it is vital that you stay on top of COD and delinquent customers. These days this information can be continually changing and it is important that everyone is aware of a customer's status. There is nothing worse then shipping a job to a customer on COD before getting the money or calling a customer to tell them you are holding their job back only to find out they sent you a check earlier.

Allowing Management to make credit decisions on customers and to convey that decision immediately to other staff is very important. Management can simply flag a customer as COD or On Hold and immediately order entry people cannot open orders without a security password and shipping people cannot create packing slips without a security password.

Chargeable Changes: Profit margins on jobs are so thin these days that any extra work can turn a job from money maker to money loser. It is vital that you track your chargeable changes and collect them from your customer. Implement a system that will document all changes made to the order from the time you agree to do the job until you ship that job to the customer. The changes should be Date / Time / Employee and Reason stamped. Change Orders should be sent and immediately email notification to the customers of the changes. These changes should be immediately reflected on the invoice but allow for changes at that time.

If you keep record of every change and document the reasons for the changes you will collect your legitimate extra fees.

Start Your Aging As Soon As Possible: We all know that customers are going to take their time paying you whether that is 30, 60, 90, 120 days so the sooner you can start the clock the better. When you generate your physical invoice automatically email a pdf copy of it to your customer at the same time. This avoids any delay in mailing invoices and allows you to collect your money days earlier.

Customers will want your invoice asap so that they can bill their customers and keep their cash flow going. You may not get your money any sooner but you will become a more desirable vendor for them.

Don't Miss Any Jobs: Reduced staffs and hurried work schedules can lead to people doing things they forget about. Maybe a job is shipped and then your plant manager pulls the Job Bag to write something on it and then forgets to but it back in the billing file. Or maybe the job bag fell behind the shippers desk. The end result is a shipped job that isn't billed at all or billed at a much later date when it is found which is uncomfortable and embarrassing.

Run reports each Friday that provide a list of jobs shipped but not invoiced. Don't let any hard earned money slip through your fingers.

Don't Over Pay Purchases: Everyone makes mistakes including suppliers but you shouldn't have to pay for their mistakes. By issuing POs, recording receipts and entering Vendor Invoices you can be instantly flagged when the invoice price varies from the PO and the Quantity billed exceeds the Quantity received. You work hard for your money don't give it away to suppliers.

Other Production Tips There many other production ways to watch your cash but we covered those in our May Blog.

Monday, October 25, 2010


By Mark Porter

It has always been important to treat every customer as if they are your best customer. These days it is even more important that all customers are handled with the greatest of care.

There is no room for error because there is always another company down the street willing to pounce on your mistakes.

Great customer service does many good things

1. Avoid embarrassing Mistakes that lose Customers

2. Avoid re-doing work that costs you money

3. Avoid Production Delays that cost money and miss deadlines

4. Fends off competition that is willing to do a job for slightly less than your price.

The problem is that part of great customer service is knowing all the different details on how a customer likes to operate. What we call the Customer Profile.

This is often a knowledge base accumulated in a CSR or owner's head that cannot be easily dispersed to other members of your staff.

Samples of this type of information are:

Must have PO to Start Job

Must provide 2 samples to President

No Deliveries after 5pm, must use their truck

Dies for Bobst Press must use 3pt rule, Birch Board, Red Rhino Rubber

Never more than 35lbs per carton

Always Wrap skids

By making this knowledge base accessible to all staff members it means that Good Customer Service is not dependant on the availability of one person.

When a database of this knowledge or Customer Profile is accumulated it can be accessed by:

Estimating - Ensuring they have all details at the beginning of the estimate avoids embarrassing extra charges or worse additional costs you can't get back when the job is produced.

Order Entry - Access to the Customer Profile when a job is opened ensures production has a solid foundation to produce a profitable job. Changes to jobs once production begins leads to costs, production delays and missed deadlines.

Production - Production Employee access to the Customer Profile allows staff to make educated decisions on situations that occur in non office hours or when the CSR or owner are not available.

Administration - Office Staff can work with clients in terms of samples, deliveries invoices etc exactly as the customer demands.

Sales - Your knowledge base of customers can be a sales tool to gain more customers. When you do your plant tours and show prospects the equipment and employees that will produce their jobs, show a sample of the knowledge base and help support your claims of quality and customer service.

Companies find the Customer Profiling so important that the knowledge base is employee and date stamped whenever a change is made to it. This provides complete accountability to your customer service process.

Accumulating Customer Profile Information and making it accessible throughout your company leads to accumulating Customer Profits.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


By Mark Porter

Information is obviously very valuable because it identifies what is happening in your business.

For example how many estimates did you do last month. What did it cost you to run that job. How much revenue was generated by different job types. etc.
But Information can also provide tremendous value by telling you what is not happening in your business.

We often call these Exception Reports. They identify things that didn't or aren't happening in your company and this can be invaluable information.

Lets look at some examples.

What if every Friday afternoon you could get a list of all jobs shipped last week but not billed. This information can be determined very quickly and avoids the potential situation of losing revenue or the embarassement of billing a customer much later when the mistake is evetually discovered.

You can also avoid the even more embarrassing situation of Jobs Billed but Not Shipped.

Another example of identifying things that are not happening in your business can be in the area of No Recent Estimates or No Recent jobs.

You can identify when a customer is starting to move his business to another supplier. The sooner your company can identify this trend the greater your chance of correcting the situation and gaining back the customer's confidence and revenue.

It is great to know what jobs were shipped today but it is just as important to know which jobs were scheduled to be shipped to day and weren't.

Won/Loss Estimate Reports not only tell you the customers and job types you are doing well with but also identify customers and job types that are fading and again allowing you to identify that trend as soon as possible so that you can take corrective action.

It is always good to know what goods you received today but it is tremendous value to know as soon as possible which goods didn't show up. Goods that didn't arrive on time threaten delivery times and throw off production schedules.

Knowing which employees on the first shift clocked in can be useful but the real value is identifying how many and which employees didn't clock in so that you can adjust the production schedule accordingly or call in more help.

It is great to know which dies were used but it is also good to know which dies have not been used in the last 2 years so that they can be destroyed or sent back to the customer.

So we can see that Information can bring tremendous benefits by telling you what is happening in your business but it can also bring tremendous benefit by telling you what is not happening in your business

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


By Mark Porter

Summer is winding down and hopefully we will be starting a busy fall season. My last issue dealt with Doing More With Less and this month we want to continue with the theme of using technology to increase productivity.

Many if not most companies have reduced their staffing and other resources in order to cope with the tough economic times but this has put them in a vulnerable position when sales have spiked. The nature of this downturn has also left companies reluctuant to add more staff and therefore struggling to cope through prolonged periods of increased sales until the recovery is well established.

This obviously results in reduced customer service and strained production resources just as we need them most.

Technology allows consistent levels of service and although requires upgrading the majority of its cost is a one time investment.

Last month we discussed the benefits an Estimating and Management Information System(MIS) can provide in helping you cope with strained customer service.

A MIS system is integrated meaning that data is entered once and transfered throughout the plant. An estimate is quickly turned into an order, an order to a packing slip and an invoice. No double entry - avoids mistakes.

A MIS System puts information at your finger tips. You can save hours each day by providing customers with instant answers rather than having to look up information and calling them back.

A MIS System provides instant communications between you and your employees and your company and your customers. This results in less mistakes and more efficient production. (Please see July Blog for full article)

What other technologies can be used to help companies with their reduced staffing? The internet can provide huge advantages.

1. On Line Inquiries

The internet can be used to increase communications with customers. Allowing customers to answer their own questions regarding their jobs frees up your staff to focus on producing the jobs. Provide a customer password protected access to the data specific to their jobs. Questions such as the following can be answered by customers themselves 24/7:

Has my job been shipped ?
What was I invoiced ?
Is my estimate ready ?
When did I last run this job ?

Carry this further and allow customers to pre open their own jobs, enter information on printed goods they are sending you and pre enter estimate specifications. This maximizes the time you are aware of jobs and allows you to make more productive decisions.

This type of 24/7 convenience and service increases customer loyality and ensures it will take a bigger price difference or bigger mistake for that customer to go elsewhere.

2. Remote Access

The internet also allows you to access your system from anywhere. Software such as gotomypc can allow you to operate your computer from any web browser as if you were in your office. I am sure you are all spending too much time at the office but still we can't afford to lose valuable hours. If you are at a customers, the airport or end up having some spare time you can be in your office immediately with services such as gotomypc. This can work on production computer such as CAD/CAM as well.

Dienamic uses gotomypc to service our clients and requires only 1 connection but in most cases our customers will have several gotomypc connections for their own uses shortly after the installation.

Other products such as gotomymeeting can also be excellent for training and webinars. Putting on webinars for your customers and prospects can be an excellent way to increase your exposure and direct business your way. It could also be used for quick proofing or inquiries without having to wait for customers to come to your plant or for you to take time to visit them.

3. Blackberries and iphones

Any email based phone allows you to access and respond to your messages immediately.

A text based phone results in delays getting your emails and forces you to respond from your computer which accessing can be time consuming.

4. Generate Sales from Websites, Blogs and Email Mail Blasts

There is no business if there is no sales.

Many Finishers, Binderies and Diemakers don't have sales staff so as production increases sales effort decreases. The internet can help provide additional exposure.

The use of websites, blogs and email blasts can help keep your company's name in front of your customers and prospects and provide valuable information that will enhance your prescence in the marketplace. This can often be done with minimal effort.

Technology is an affordable one time cost option that will allow you to maintain a consistent and reliable level of service until business is sufficient to re-evaluate your staffing needs.

Friday, July 30, 2010


By Mark Porter

As business picks up many companies, whether in the short term or permanently, need to be able to handle the increased workload with their reduced staffs.

A solid estimating and Management Information Software System can be of tremendous help with this.

There are many ways that each individual software module can bring benefits to your company but lets look at the major benefits of having an integrated system that can help you cope with the increased pressure of servicing your customers needs with reduced staffing.

An Integrated System

A software system is an integrated system. This means that data is entered once. Unlike manual systems where data is constantly re written from document to document. An integrated system transfers information automatically through the job processing routine.

This means that as you do the estimate you are creating the information for order entry, costing, shipping, invoicing and accounting.

Estimates that become jobs are simply retrieved at the Order entry stage and automatically converted into the Job Specifications. Some additions maybe required but the majority of the information is immediately prepared.

Special instructions or needs this customer has can be accessed from the customer profile and are placed on the order. Addresses can be selected directly from the customer file to ready the shipping documents. Estimated costs are transfered to the Invoice.

As the job proceeds through production job changes and additional charges are automatically appended to the invoice.

One time entry from Estimating to Accounting leads to efficiency and less mistakes both necesarry requirements during busy times.

Information at Your Finger Tips

Just think how much of your day is spent looking up information and getting back to customers. Probably several hours a day. An integrated Software system ensures that all the data you need to answer customer's questions has been entered and is easily accessible by you and your staff.

If a Customer calls and wants to know if their job is shipped simply click on the Packing Slip button and get a complete listing of all Packing Slips issued for that job. Was he Invoiced - Click on the Invoice Button and get a list of Invoices. Have you received his printed goods to start working on his job - click on the receipts button and see if his goods have arrived. The customer has a question about the job - click on the Electronic Order and see a copy of the Ticket on the Screen. Don't waste time finding documents, calling customers back and getting voice mail. Answer your customers questions immediately and save many hours each day.

Instant Communications

An integrated Management Information System provides instant communications with automatic email notification when events happen such as openning orders, changing orders, receiving customer goods, creating shipping documents, creating invoices, problems encountered and dies needing sharpening.

Instant communications with both your customers and your own staff decrease mistakes and make operations more efficient.

This can be carried as far as the internet by allowing your customers to check job status and even open their own orders via your web site 24/7. This further frees up your time to focus on job production.

There are many benefits to Management Information Systems but these 3 alone will allow you to service your increased workload with your existing staff.

Monday, June 28, 2010


By Mark Porter

I was recently reading an article on the history of Estimating Software in the Printing Industry and found a very interesting fact that could benefit the Finishing/Binding and Diemaking Industries.

According to the NAQP (National Association of Quick Printers) in 2007 on average companies using estimating software reported $47,000 more in owner's compensation then those using manual estimating systems.

The estimating software forced the owners to look at their true costs of producing different jobs and this allowed them to identify and focus on the type of work they did most profitably.

I think this lesson can be applied to any job oriented manufacturing business whether it is printing, finishing, binding or diemaking.

The more you can focus your efforts and production resources on specific products the more profitable your business will be.

If you were to make a graph of all jobs you did in a given year and make the verticle bar PROFIT and the horizontal bar JOBS and then place a dot on the graph for each job based on its profitability the graph would propably look like this.

The dots above the horizontal line are profitable the ones below are not. We must minimize the types of jobs that fall below the line and maximize the type of jobs that appear above the line.

By identifying what distinguished the most profitable jobs the companies could try to replicate those conditions to get more and more of their jobs into this category.

Estimating not only helps you identify your true costs but it also allows you to analyze estimates to ensure you maintain your market advantages in the profitable products.

Won/Loss reports based on product type helps you monitor your valued markets against potential competition.

Won/Loss based on customers allow you to ensure that customers are staying happy with your service.

Daily listings of estimates to follow up ensures you don't lose any of your high profit jobs for stupid reasons.

Estimate listings by salesreps ensure that they are chasing the profitable work.

When I look at our customers the most successful ones are allways the ones with specific markets and product niches.

One of the most impressive things I have heard in an estimating department is "NO BID" because the quote did not fall into their desired product mix.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


By Mark Porter

I was recently present at a Finisher's plant when a job went wrong and the management team gathered to add up the potential costs that could result from this mistake. It was freightening.

Before starting with the Post Press Industry some 13 years ago I was on the printing side of the business and although mistakes were obviously a concern the risk seemed less because the printer controlled almost all costs - material and labor.

Even to the point that on the rare occassions when the printers were asked to print on customer supplied paper the printer would always add some cost per C.Wt or per M.Sheets to cover his risk.

The post press industry, as you are well aware, is a different story. Last in the production processes, extremely tight deadlines and handling jobs that can already have tens of thousands of dollars of materials and labor invested in them. The post press company could be adding a service worth a minimum amount to a job of tremendous value. If that jobs goes wrong the finisher must replace the entire job.

Obviously post press companies have developed checks and balances that prevent alot of mistakes - plus I have meet several of the most detail oriented people ever in this industry but what else can we do to lessen risk.

1. Cover Risk

Estimating - should account for jobs of extrardinary risk. Should the sell value to drill a simple 8 pp self cover black and white book on 80lb text be the same as an 8 page 6 color book on very expensive paper. Probably not.

2. Increase Communications

The greater the communications between employees and customers the lesser the chance of mistakes. Tools such as:

Customer Profiles - Record all aspects of how customers want there jobs produced and provide 24/7 access to this information to all employees.

Electronic Orders - Information is always instantly distributed to all employees and you don't have to worry about employees working from old information.

Detailed Job Notes - Electronically attached to the Job Bag these allow you to describe every form to ensure proper production.

Problem History - Describe problems and solutions previously experienced with jobs. If a job is rerun then be automatically notified of problems you had last time.

Emails - Constant and instant communication between the customer and your employees will ensure that jobs are produced correctly.

Order Confirmation - Confirms specs of jobs that were entered into Order Entry and emailed to customer to shift responsibility back to customer.

Job Changes - are documented and distributed instantly to your customer and plant employees to increase quality and reduce mistakes.

3. Maximize Production Time with Each Job

Many mistakes happen when things are rushed. The more time we can have with a job in our possesion the less chance of Production mistakes. A super critical job can be run on the day shift rather than the afternoon shift to meet the deadline.

Received Goods Notification - As soon as goods are received at your receiving dock production is notified. There is no loss of time.

Check counts and quality of sheets received. Don't get blamed for short counts or damaged sheets that could result in you having to reprint part of the job.

Die Management - can warn you if dies need sharpening before the job gets to production. No longer does a job have to wait while a die is being re tooled or does a job have to be removed from a press half way through a production run because the die needs retooling.

Post Press companies will always take on risk - it is the nature of the business but are you doing everything possible to limit this risk.

Friday, April 30, 2010


By Mark Porter

Print Finishers, Trade Binderies and Diemakers are all Job Oriented Manufacturing Industries. This means that instead of producing goods and then trying to sell them like a car company we must constantly find work to produce. Every job is different and it is the estimate that brings the work into our plants.

Also unlike a car company that knows all its costs before pricing the car to make a profit we must estimate our costs, produce the job and then measure the profit we make.

Therefore simply estimating the job is only half the battle. After the job is complete we should be analyzing the actual costs in comparison to our estimated costs.

The comparisons should be available on an operation level i.e. makeready, run, cleanup, waiting time etc. and should also be evaluated on both an hourly and cost basis.

You will want to account for fixed and variable costs so that you can adjust your estimated values for the actual quantity run. Our industry constantly estimates for one quantity say 10,000 and ends up running 10,500. It is not much value in comparing estimated values for 10,000 and actual values for 10,500. By expanding variable costs to the actual quantities to created adjusted values we can compare apples to apples.

Any significant variations between our estimated and actual values should be investigated and the reasons determined. Was the variance due to some unique features of the job or is the variation due to a more systematic problem that should be corrected.

By constantly monitoring our estimated and actual values we can ensure that are estimates accurately reflect what we achieve on the shop floor.

This is vital because if we are estimating a machine to run at 5000 per hour but the machine is actually running at 4000 per hour this means you are losing money on every job you win. Conversely if we are estimating the machine at 4000 per hour but we are actually running the machine at 5000 per hour we are losing jobs we could produce profitably.

So you can see estimating is only half the battle.

Click here to see Actual vs Estimate Report

Thursday, March 25, 2010


By Mark Porter

The Shipping/Receiving Department in any Bindery or Finisher is a very busy place. Shipments to customers, receipts of printed materials from customers and dies and foils or binding materials from vendors. Delays in any of these activities can cause us to miss deadlines or incur overtime to make up for late items.The better we can manage our shipments and receipts the more profitable our business will be.

Time is critical to Finishers/Binderies. We are last in the production cycle and any slack in the schedule is usually long gone by the time the job reaches us. Any increase in the time we have with the job provides flexibility to deal with it to our advantage.

We can increase our time with jobs several ways.

1. Have an option to generate Shipping documentation with your customers logos on it so you can ship direct to the end user and have it still look like it is coming from the printer. Simply load Company logo files into your customer database. This can provide extra time for you or also help you save the printer's butt by managing to make their customer's delivery date.

2. Tag COD accounts so that shipments for that customer require a supervisor password to generate paperwork. This may not save time but it will lessen the risk of bad debts.

3. Provide Instant E mail notification to our employees and the employees of the printer as soon as items arrive at the shipping dock. This ensures that we as the Finisher/Bindery don't waste any valuable production time simply because we are unaware that goods have been delivered. It also notifies the printer of the exact time you received the goods so there are no unrealistic expectations of delivery based on their assumption of when the goods were delivered.
This also works well with vendors. If we are waiting for a die or spines to be delivered to begin production we will again be notified via an automatic email as soon as the goods are received at the shipping door.

An electronic Receiving log is automatically updated and can be accessed by anyone to ensure all employees are informed.

4. But the best way to maximize our scheduling time is to know about jobs before they arrive. By providing your best customers with internet capabilities to log in materials they are shipping to you maximizes lead time on orders and gives provides them with priority scheduling. The customer can enter items to be shipped, shipping method, estimated time of arrival and comments. You are instantly made aware of those materials and you and the printer will be automatically notified if they have not arrived by the estimated time. When the goods do arrive they can be quickly matched to the predelivery transaction and any comments such as damage or short quantity can be immediately conveyed back to the printer.

This not only maximizes your time with jobs thus allowing you maximium flexibilty in your production schedule but it makes it much more convenient for printers to deal with your company. You start to become a partner to that printer not just another vendor.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


By Mark Porter

Communications with a customer is vital to the success and profitability of any job and that communications begins before you get the job and even before you get the PO. Communication for the success of a job begins with the estimate.

The communication from the customer regarding the specifications of the job starts the process and is obviously very important but the key interaction between you and your customer, that often determines the success of a job, is your presentation of the quote.

I have seen many methods of presenting prices to customers that range from simply writing the price on the original specifications received from the customer and faxing it back to very detailed letters with bold and underlined references.

The reality is that the more detail the better. Any room for misunderstanding can be interpeted by customers intentially or unintentially in a manner that results in a damaged relationship with your customer and/or you spending more money on the job then you intended.

A good quote will

1. Present a Professional Image

A good quote should present a professional image to your customer. A price scribbled on a fax not only reflects negatively on the quality standards of your company but can also provide second thoughts to your customer on large jobs.
The print/packaging estimator has to consider his accountability should this job go wrong. I price scribbled on paper will not put him in good standing to his boss when he tries to justify his decisions. Nor will it invoke confidence to entrust your company with a valuable project.

2. Clearly define the job you are providing

A good quote will clearly define the components of the job. The number of pages, bind type, fold/glue configuration, color of foil, type of rule etc. There should be no misunderstanding of the exact product you are delivering.

3. Clearly define the services you are providing

A good quote will clearly define the services you are providing for the cost presented. This is very important as it will provide an opportunity to requote if you mis understood the job and included or left out certain processes.

4. Clearly State What is expected from Customer

The quote should also clearly state what is expected from the customer. If you are assuming that the customer is providing certain materials and providing those materials in certain ways by placing this information on the quote the customer can confirm or deny those assumptions before the job begins.

5. Allow for Special Instructions

Your quote should contain any special instructions or requirements you have for certain jobs. Ideally these instructions should be initiated when certain processes are selected from the estimate, allow you to pick from a list of common special instructions and type in specific instructions for unique jobs.

6. Present Pricing as Requested

Don't make your customer work to get the pricing he wants. If he wants certain processes broken out or he wants an each price instead of per M you should provide the quotation in that format.

7. Original Date

Clearly indicate the date this quote was origianlly provided so that your 30/60 day validation period cannot be extended.

8. The Quote should be Generated Automatically

Taking time to rewrite the estimate numbers into a format to present to the customer takes valuable time and represents potential errors from transposition and ommission mistakes. The quote should be automatically generated from the estimate.

9. Deliver Quote in Requested Format

If your customer want their quotes emailed and you fax it you are starting the process in a negative manner. Your quotes should be deliverable quickly and easily in the manner specific to each customer.

10. Track Quotes for Follow up and Analysis

Track desirable quotes to ensure you don't lose them for stupid reasons like " we gave you a big job 2 days ago we didn't think you could handle this as well", " we didn't think you could perform that process" or " I seem to have lost your quote".
Analyze estimates for won/loss, customer activity and much more valuable information

Monday, January 25, 2010


By Mark Porter

A new year and companies are continuing to look for ways to increase productivity and decrease costs. There are many ways to increase productivity and decrease waste which we will discuss in various issues this year.

1. Accountability
2. Inter Company Communications
3. Customer Communications
4. Access to Information

One of the best ways to maximize peoples producttivity and minimize waste is to demand accountability from all employees.

It does not matter if you are the President of the company or the floor sweeper - if you have to account for every minute of your day and every material you use you will be more efficient and less wasteful.

If accountability produces even a small 5% increase in productivity and decrease in waste this can add up to some very large savings.

Lets look at your shop floor - by far the greatest costs are incurred here. Depending on the size of your business your plant will expend millions of dollars in labor and material. If we took a plant that processes $2 million of costs per year then even that small 5% productivity gain will result in $100,000 of savings.

How do you achieve accountability ?

First employees must record their activity throughout the day. Whether that is by writing it on a time sheet or bar coding into shop data sharing stations. They must record the start and stop time for each activity they perform from the time they clock in until they clock out for the day. This is not just job based activities but all activities - doing a makeready, running a job, waiting for an ok, maintenace of a machine or no work. They can also record materials used at this time as well.

An employee writing their time on the back of a job bag is not sufficient. You are not making the employees accountable because you can not piece together a time sheet accounting for evey minute from clocking in to clocking out for the day.

Depending on your method of collecting the data - you can analyze it many ways.

It maybe enough for you to review each employees time sheet to ensure that makeready and run times look right.

You may want to calculate % efficiency of each machine and each employee and compare it to standards you expect to achieve or compare on an employee by employee basis to evaluate which employees need more training.

You may want to compare your estimate vs actual costs on each job to identify problems.

You may want to evaluate your % Chargable time to Non Chargable time on an employee by employee basis. If an employee has less than say 75% chargable time we have to take action.

You may want to note that your makeready or repair time is increasing on certain machines and those machines are becoming less efficient.

Accountability can be a powerful tool but Management must be 100% behind it. Like punching in and punching out - if employees don't do it they don't get paid. Management must take the same approach with time collection, with ALL employees, or it will not work.

But getting it to work can provide tremendous savings.