Integration – The Big Challenge for CCM Service Providers
All customer communication management (CCM) service providers and in-plant operations need to automate production and make the process more efficient. Modernized production is the only way to sustain growth and continue to be profitable. Companies that cannot automate document production create friction with their customer interactions. Many of the problems are not complex, but the internal mechanism to prevent or resolve them is broken or never really worked in the first place. Typically, a print/mail provider collects a variety disparate systems, software, and data sources over time. This makes it tough to achieve automation and efficiency goals. Integrating an unrelated set of solutions into a single comprehensive workflow is a challenge. Most companies that attempt to automate on their own usually fail. Purchased software helps, but the real work requires experts who can make the necessary connections.
Current State of the Production Floor
Every document production environment uses equipment and software from a variety of providers. Print/mail service operations often add new equipment or software when they bid on a job, win it, and must add the resources necessary to make it happen. Companies purchase systems haphazardly at different points in technological development. The point solutions do not always share data in the most complete and efficient way. Some of the production processes may be manual and lacking documentation. Integration is not as easy as licensing a piece of software and buying a couple rolls of ethernet cabling. The who and the how to get it done are pivotal to the success of the integration.
System Integration is Essential
Competitive pressure means print/mail providers now have less time to produce a completed job. Clients do not care about staffing issues or that postal delivery is 20% slower. Be wary of equipment salespeople who try to convince you that all you need new hardware. Purchasing faster equipment to process poorly designed workflows will not have a lasting positive effect. Automation and integration are the only long-term answer to the demands of today’s marketplace.
Companies that offer CCM workflow integration solutions can bring all production floor hardware and software together and erase the bottlenecks inherent in legacy solutions that evolved over the last few decades. Consulting with an unbiased, third-party integrator to assess and connect systems from different manufacturers is a great way to begin your workflow automation project. Time, labor, and production output are valuable and require management. Providers should not be hindered with legacy systems that cannot communicate with each other.
Legacy systems frequently feature manual processes requiring human intervention. As a result, they are unscalable and error prone. Standardize daily operations with an integrated end-to-end print and mail workflow. The result is reduced operating costs, a faster onboarding process, and increased productivity.
Integration Expertise: Get Help from Someone Who’s Done It
Many service providers believe they can build their own CCM solution faster and at a lower cost than a third-party. At first glance, this makes sense. IT and production employees understand a service provider’s data assets and the current workflow. But doing it yourself is not always the best decision. Companies that want to build and implement their own automated CCM application face several challenges. The first is data integration. Data tends to be stored everywhere. Aggregating and normalizing it for a CCM is not a part-time project. Then there is the challenge of getting unrelated equipment on speaking terms. Companies that try to build their own CCM solution usually do not get past the first steps. Most organizations are not staffed with CCM experts. As a result, a homegrown CCM automation solution will not be built with current best practices. By comparison, a CCM solution from an established vendor will reflect the best of the print/mail industry’s innovative ideas.
When building the technical design to support your CCM strategy, pay attention to the future plans of potential technology vendors. Change is happening so quickly that print/mail providers cannot afford to entrust an important initiative to a partner that does not understand what CCM will look like in the future.
The Alchem-e™ platform from Racami is workflow automation software that tracks and advances a print and mail job from the time it arrives as an electronic file to when documents end up in a mailbox or inbox. The Alchem-e™ dashboard gives access to the production environment by connecting technologies, systems, and processes from all CCM hardware and software vendors. An Alchem-e™ integration gives print/mail providers control over automation, throughput, profitability, and risk mitigation.