BASIC INFO & CUSTOMIZATIONWeb-based NolaPrint runs in a browser such as Internet Explorer or Firefox over the Internet. This however is not a requirement. It can function simply as a stand-alone program, or better yet, as a network application with one main installation and multiple access points in your facility. It installs on Windows and Linux or can be hosted by our cloud.
NolaPrint arrives at the customer's site aside a free accounting application called NolaPro. But it doesn't have to be that way. Each has its own basic philosophy of what it is all about and each can be installed and used as a stand-alone system. Actually NolaPrint doesn't even have to know that NolaPro exists.
NolaPrint comes in many flavors: Litho; Letterpress; Gravure; Web; Flexo and Screen to name the most common ones. However, as every printer knows, even two Litho printers, for example, can be quite different although they may both be servicing the same clientele. One of the major reasons that many printing companies choose Noguska is because we are one of the few companies who have the expertise to change our software to accommodate your way of doing business.
Quite often this added efficiency can contribute very much to the profitability of the company. Since NolaPrint was developed with the expectation that it may be changed to suit local conditions, the cost of making these changes can be astonishingly affordable.
ESTIMATINGOf all print concepts, estimating is likely one of the most often used and for good reason. Theoretically we should be able to analyze every tiny, individual, step involved at every workstation during the process of preparing, printing, binding and delivering a given printing job. If we do so we can easily calculate the costs of the labor and materials involved.
If we apply similar methods to our administrative requirements, such as physical plant investment, the lady at the front desk and "hidden" costs -death and taxes -we can derive that elusive thing called "overhead".
The combination of these two gives us the "actual cost" of printing the job. We call this an "estimate" and in most cases this estimate is marked-up and delivered to the customer as their job quote.
Why is actual cost in quote marks? Because it isn't really our cost at all. It is, in fact, a figure we calculate based on the history of all the preceding jobs we have done. There is no ideal job and certainly it is rare indeed that two jobs that look exactly alike on paper cost the same amount in fact. As defined above it is an estimate although by estimate we do not in any way imply a "crude" estimate. Actually it is a highly refined and accurate figure but unless it is calculated using the actual costs of the specific job it is still an estimate. Never forget that.
COST-BASED ESTIMATING SYSTEMSThe system described in the paragraphs above is cost-based. Most advanced estimating systems employ these methods -whether in printing or manufacturing. The purpose of the system is not to set a price on your products although it may, in fact, do that. The actual purpose is to determine true costs. Most programs, however, will allow you to set a pricing scheme and will calculate and include this scheme for you.
A "cost-based" system in one that calculates the actual cost of printing any job, given the equipment, the plant facilities, the labor staff and the local costs (rent, taxes, utilities, etc.). There are various ways of doing this, but usually the last step in the process can be one of the most difficult: deciding the proper markup itself for the printing plant.
MARKUPSome printers use "markup" lists different jobs or different segments separately while others use the same markup everywhere. There are arguments both ways, but there is especially a good reasoning for keeping your markup the same, say 10% or 20%, throughout your entire operation.
The markup is actually the return you are getting on your investment. If you invest $1 in Bindery with a 10% markup and $1 in printing with a 20% markup, then you will get 10 cents back from your bindery dollar and double that for your printing dollar.
If this is the case, then a good argument can be made that you should farm out the bindery part of these jobs. If a dollar invested in two different places brings a different return then few investors would hesitate in moving their total investment into the higher yield market -all other things being equal of course.
As mentioned, nearly every modern estimating system on the market is cost-based especially higher end systems. Furthermore, nearly all of these applications will break these costs down department-by-department so that a manager can look at each job segment separately. This is useful when quoting very competitive jobs (such as government contracts) because an experienced Estimator can sometimes spot places and ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality when he or she can zoom in on a single particular process.
QUOTESA job quote can be printed on a special pre-printed page or included with other documents. In any event, whether elegantly or plainly printed, it is often delivered to the customer with a choice of quantities and other separately priced options requested by the customer. Many systems, like NolaPrint allow the option of emailing the quote directly to the customer from the computer terminal.
JOB COSTINGThe fact that an estimate is not necessarily the true cost need not be disconcerting. Identical jobs may not cost exactly the same amount but the real question should be "Is the difference significant?" and the answer is usually "No" if the quotes are based upon recent historical data of the printing plant. And to a great extent the differences will average out.
Nevertheless there are cases where the difference is very significant. There is also the allied question "How do we keep our database current?".
The cure for both of these is job costing. Estimating is a before-the-fact calculation of what it should cost to print using your equipment and craftsmen. Job costing is an after-the-fact calculation of what it actually did cost to print a job.
DATA COLLECTION AND VARIANCE REPORTThe next part of the estimated and actual costs is how the actual cost data is acquired. Theoretically it is simple, so we can describe it as a manual process. Each job is tracked with a "job ticket" or "timecard" for recording the actual time and materials data. A computer operator would then keyboard these figures into a special module of the estimating system. The program then recalculates the job using these known costs. The result is the true cost of the job.
From this data a variance report is created showing the amount of variation, the nature of the variation and precisely where it occurred. Of course it is "true" only to the extent of the accuracy of the figures recorded by the staff workers. They must set up an adequate checking system to insure reasonable accuracy in this data collection process.
The last step is to use the variance report to show where the shop data is wrong. The shop data (parameters) are the original figures put in that affect the final cost of the products. Some of this data is straight-forward and finite, while other date is based on "best guess" or "best-fit" calculations. Any of these may be subject to correction. The variance report should point to the exact area of the problem and the direction and amount needed to correct it.
AUTOMATED DATA COLLECTIONComputerized or "automated" data collection gets it input from keypads, barcode readers, weighing scales, numerical counters, and similar devices. These are connected directly to a computer bus line from every workstation and sometimes from the machinery itself (in the case of weighing scales for scrap, etc. and numerical counters for impressions, sheets, etc.).
The computer bus line then stamps the date and time on this data and channels it from every job, every employee and every machine. The net result is a continuous data stream that records nearly everything that moves, changes or fails anytime during working hours.
NolaPrint is designed as sophisticated automated data collection should be to sort and shuffle data to determine every cost that is in any way associated with every job passing through the shop, including waste, delays and unexpected economies.
Likewise the software can focus on anyone workstation, any single person, nearly any time segment (8am to 10am for instance) or nearly any group (bindery, for instance) with a complete record of expected or actual results.
DATA COLLECTION AND EDIData Collection requires either wiring or RF transmitting and receiving devices where copper wires are impractical or impossible. Most systems are Wired, however, to minimize costs and increase reliability. EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) is a further step in automation that is often used in modern printing (and manufacturing) facilities. If a printer deals with many large accounts they may be required to use EDI.
EDI is the automated transmission of Invoices, Bills of Lading, Shipping Records, and Text Documents of nearly every variety, including Bank Checks. Not all of the above are employed in every printing plant. We can paraphrase what Karl Marx once said (but forgot to practice) "Each chooses wisely according to its needs".
NolaPrint is designed with flexibility and quality assurance in mind in order to implement the solutions necessary to meet the specific needs of printers regardless of size, methodology or budget.