How PlanetPress became a “Best Friend”

Guest post by Adriana from  DataLand. She is an ex-customer and ex-employee who has shared some fond memories of PlanetPress. Bio below.

The introduction

In 2005 I was introduced to a tool called PlanetPress. In the beginning the experience was exciting because I was able to visit Montreal for a week while in training. But when I came back I felt overwhelmed because I had a tool that was supposed to help me print and archive the company’s operational documents but I didn’t have a clue how to make it happen.

The users were very frustrated with the current system that generated invoices and statements as it was very slow, so it was a very good opportunity to find a new way of creating and handling these and many other distribution and manufacturing documents.

A beginning of a friendship

Initially, we focused on fixing the problem: performance. At that time the users didn’t care about the documents’ layout. They were only looking after handling high volumes of documents without needing to wait for their screen to slowly process one document at a time. We were able to cut processing time by 85%. This was the first victory PlanetPress had among the end users and managers!

Even though users didn’t want to change the documents’ layout we redesigned them using PlanetPress and this opened the managers’ eyes. They started requesting changes to French labels, custom messages and branding. We ended up having a very different set of documents for each brand which gave a visual identity for users and customers. At this point it became clear that the users were starting to trust PlanetPress as a “friend” and not a system that was simply imposed by the IT department. The term PlanetPress became a common word in the company’s dictionary.

Getting to know each other

But why stop there? Even though we purchased PlanetPress to solve a specific problem, we had the opportunity to go even further and automate the delivery of those documents, so we started by analyzing what was done with each document after printing. It was incredible to learn that users spent a lot of time dealing with the majority of the printed copies: adding stamps, photocopying, scanning, sending them through inter-office mail, filing copies for reference, and mailing, faxing or emailing copies to customers.

We had the tool to automate all these tasks, so for each type of document we described the business process behind it and implemented the automation with PlanetPress. Once the document was printed from their system, users didn’t need to do anything else. PlanetPress took the whole task from formatting to delivering the documents to their destination based on their content and business practices. At this point PlanetPress became the “best friend” among users and managers!

A friend that keeps on giving

Then we decided to launch a campaign among the customers in which they were able to choose if they wanted to receive their invoices, credits and statements through regular mail, email, and/or fax. Customers’ response was amazing and we were able to reduce our mailing by 50%. At that point we decided to schedule printing of invoices, credits and statements to the time when printers weren’t busy which resulted in the elimination of lost documents.

An everyday companion

At this point we needed to have an IT person dedicated 100% to PlanetPress as everybody wanted to implement new processes and make changes to the automation. Users got so demanding that we had special workflows for certain key customers and suppliers. We implemented rules that allowed PlanetPress to decide what to show on the documents:

  • Some customers wanted to see their own stock code, or the UPC code instead of our internal item number
  • Certain customers wanted to see wholesale price besides their purchase price
  • A couple of customers wanted to eliminate prices all together in packing slips
  • Big customers wanted their statements sent in .csv format
  • Special customers wanted a phone call when an invoice was generated
  • Many customers wanted their shipping information (tracking number) printed on their invoices
  • Some customers wanted the invoice sent with the box, others only wanted the packing slips with the shipment
  • Etc…

Once our distribution documents were all settled and the workflows were implemented as per users’ satisfaction, we started to analyze other manufacturing documents. PlanetPress then started producing purchase orders, manufacturing work orders, inspection documents, instructions and ingredient documents, etc.

An encouraging partner

The only “little” task remaining was getting executives and managers on board to rely on our archiving system and to stop printing filing copies.

When we implemented PlanetPress for the first time we started saving copies of each document; we didn’t have an archiving (EDM) tool but we knew it was something very important if we really wanted to see a complete solution around our operational documents. We chose Fortis from Westbrook because it has a flawless integration with PlanetPress and we loaded all the documents with success. The problem was that users were used to reprinting certain documents from the system and spent endless hours looking for documents that couldn’t be reprinted.

The issue was that when we implemented PlanetPress users didn’t need to learn anything new, the only change to their tasks was changing their default printer to the one used by PlanetPress and magic happened. But with the archiving system they needed to have another application open to search for the documents which caused some resistance. Let’s face it, when printing more than 5,000 documents per day, it is impossible to keep up with the amount of work around them.

BFFs

It took two years to get everybody on board but suddenly one day we received the request to stop printing filing copies. It was that day when I considered PlanetPress my “Best Friend” as it was the tool that helped the company become more efficient by the use of technology.

The bottom line is that even though we implemented PlanetPress to solve a performance issue we ended up having a solution that helped the company reduce costs, improve customer service, eliminate human errors, reduce paper consumption, reduce storage space and, most importantly, operations became more efficient. PlanetPress was not only formatting and delivering documents, it was also alerting users of special activities and actions happening in the company.