To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade?

PrintSmith Vision 3.3 is now available and has several enhancements.

Feedback from the majority of users that have upgraded to PS Vision is that

- It works
  • It’s stable
  • It’s a substantial improvement on PrintSmith Classic

PrintSmith Vision now has significant new features that will never be available in PrintSmith Classic

Email from Vision! 
You can now email your Estimates, Invoices, Statements, Credit Notes and Purchase Orders directly from PrintSmith! PSV will also keep a record of Estimates and Invoices sent.

Tablets* and Smartphones* are now capable of seeing your WIP/Pending Documents and your Customer history. This works well and is very valuable when doing sales calls or on the road.

Automatic Backups are now back since version 3.0

Purchase Orders have been enhanced and some features have been added.

Dashboard is looking good, and has been improved with each successive version of PSV.

Vision is here to stay and is now a great improvement to Classic.
Upgrade today, you will be pleased!

*The following mobile devices are supported: 
  iPad® 4th and 5th generation 
  iPhone® 5 and 6 
  Android™ tablets 
  Android smartphones
Mobile operating systems 
 iOS 8.3 
  Android 4.1, 5.1

…on the other hand,

There is little benefit to be had from upgrading to PrintSmith Vision if you’re not already getting most of the benefit from PrintSmith Classic.

Imagine buying a a high capacity full colour digital press, and only using it for black and white copies

Well, why then are so many PrintSmith users accessing just a quarter of it's features? Why are they just estimating and perhaps invoicing, when in fact it can do a lot more?

What additional benefits can PrintSmith give your business?

  • Costing - find out what your actual cost is for each and every job estimated or invoiced in PrintSmith, once set up, it’s obvious!

  • Profitability - track profitability at any level, by job, invoice, sales rep, customer, machine, and overall. See easily where you’re making money - and where you’re not!

  • Bar Code Readers - Show where each and every job is in ‘Work in Progress’ - enables you to track and plan cost efficient production.

  • ReportWriter - Create and use custom reports - commission reports to WIP reports to profitability reports - use RW to it's maximum use.

  • Marketing - PrintSmith, especially with the use of ReportWriter can assist you greatly in marketing your business, creating merge lists for mail and email, planning and organising marketing campaigns, etc.

Please contact me to discuss how PrintSmith can help you run a more profitable business.


Eliminating costly errors - 2.

PrintSmith Deep No. 10. Eliminating costly errors - 2.

Another way of reducing the incidence of production errors is to instruct your staff to always construct an estimate as if they were writing a job ticket. To make this easier, you can include job charges automatically by attaching them to press and copier definitions, and attaching numbering, for example, to NCR stocks.

Using PrintSmith site is a way of channeling your customers orders directly onto your workflow. The latest version is much more user friendly than previous versions. A small investment is required, to but it remains competitively priced compared to other on-line ordering systems, and it is the only one that integrates directly into PrintSmith.

If you have a digital colour production machine, you may already be using an EFI Fiery controller that will accept JDF digital job tickets from PrintSmith. Ask me for more information on this if it interests you.

Eliminating costly errors - 1.

PrintSmith Deep No. 9. Eliminating costly errors - 1.

How can you reduce production errors by automating more of the process without making a large investment in new equipment?

Any print MIS system should have the facility to create job templates. PrintSmith, for example, will save any estimate or invoice as an invoice template, or any job as a job template. Using job templates in PrintSmith will enable you to incorporate all the required charges and job notes into the template whilst leaving you the freedom to edit any aspect of the job. This will help to drive consistency through the workflow, thereby reducing mistakes and omissions. Older versions of PrintSmith required you to manually copy any template created to all the other workstations. The current version (8.1.x) is able to save any template to the shared templates folder on the PS master. I have noticed that very few centres use templates effectively, but those that do, derive significant benefit from them.

Whatever MIS system you are using, It’s only as good as the information it contains. Time spent to ensure that your stock prices, press, copier and charge definitions are correct and up to date is never wasted, invariably seems to be a low priority. The traditional lull in business in the summer holiday season is a great time to do this.


The significance of the cost of the jobs you produce

PrintSmith Deep No. 8. The significance of the cost of the jobs you produce.

It’s not difficult to find and report fairly precise job costings in PrintSmith, as long as it is correctly set up and maintained.

PrintSmith uses four main pricing methods. They are:
  1. Internal cost plus mark-up, used for (litho) Press Definitions.
  2. External cost plus mark-up, used for outside services.
  3. Internal cost v. matrix price, used for digital prices.
  4. Internal/external cost v. set price, used for charge definitions.

The internal cost plus mark-up method, as used for Press Definitions depends upon setting an hourly cost labour rate the use of which is governed by speed and waste tables. So not only does the labour rate need to be as accurate as possible but the waste and especially the speed table need to reproduce the actual production situation. Press labour rates should really be recalculated on an annual basis. I am not aware of any work having been done with speed tables since PrintSmith was originally installed. Information on press speed tables is available from press manufacturers and the BPIF, but recording your own press speed data over, perhaps two months, will give better quality data.
The external cost plus mark-up definitions include external full colour, external print, external digital and merchandise. These are extremely straightforward as they are always based on a quoted price from a supplier, plus mark-up.

The internal cost v. matrix price method, as used for Copier Definitions is considerably easier to set up and control as unlike a cost plus mark-up definition (where altering the cost labour rate will alter the price) cost and prices are entered separately on to the system. Prices are entered via a matrix, which is independent of the costing calculation. Digital costing data becomes important when starting to use the “Work in Progress” report for production management. Costs are entered via a series of fields, which include the number of hours the machine is available for production, it’s speed, monthly payment, monthly burden rate (overhead), percentage of available time in use and individual costs per copy. From these figures the Copier Definition then calculates the ‘Machine cost per copy’, which includes an amortisation of the overheads if they are included.

Internal cost v. set price, as used in charge definitions. Charge definitions in PrintSmith include all Pre-press and Finishing charges. If Charge definitions have not had costs attributed to them, it will cause profitability analysis in PrintSmith to malfunction. Reviewing and attributing costs to Charge definitions takes about one working day (providing that the costs are known). It is better to have an estimated cost in a Charge Definition than if there is no cost at all, which will cause PrintSmith to display either 0% or 100% profit.

PrintSmith’s ability to produce profitability reports by customer, business type, or sales rep, can crucially inform your business decisions. More importantly, this will form a foundation for new and future developments in PrintSmith, such as job scheduling, by providing accurate and consistent cost and time calculations. Addressing your costing issues now will assist in improving the ROI in PrintSmith. Please contact me if you require any further information. I would be more than happy to demonstrate how costing in PrintSmith works.

Please contact me on 0121 288 5355

Upgrade now - and be ready for PrintSmith Vision

Upgrade Now - and be ready for PrintSmith Vision

EFI have long had a policy of supporting the current version of PrintSmith and the immediately previous one. This means that although version 8.1 and 8.0 are (as at April 2013) currently supported, when PrintSmith Vision is released version 8.0 will cease to be supported.
I am told that PrintSmith Vision will be available in the UK by the end of May this year. This does not mean that versions earlier than 8.1 will stop working. It does mean that if support from EFI is required, you will probably be told to upgrade before any support will be given and this could be difficult or impossible if PrintSmith has stopped working completely, so it is clearly advisable to upgrade your PrintSmith to the current version (8.1.18) as soon as possible. 
EFI do not charge for the upgrade installers, which are available from:
For any one requiring assistance, I can provide a DIY upgrade kit for as little as £30.00 (depending on the version you are upgrading from). Please click here if you wish to know more.
Alternatively, I can provide direct remote assistance in upgrading, or even come and do the whole thing for you.
If you require any assistance, please contact me on 0121 288 5355 or by
clicking here.

Interpolating digital print prices

PrintSmith Deep No. 7. Interpolating digital print prices

There are many variables in the way that PrintSmith can price digital print and interpolation is one of the most beneficial. Any Copier/Digital pricing definition that uses a pricing matrix will have an “Interpolate Matrix Values” tick box.

With interpolation turned off, PrintSmith will price a digital print job in steps (always pricing to the next step). This means that if you set the price for 50 copies on the matrix @ 10p each changing to 5p each for 100 copies (the next step), 51 copies would be charged @ 5p each - and so would 75 or 99!

With interpolation turned on, PrintSmith will interpolate a price for any quantity between each step. So in the example above, 51 copies would be a fraction of a penny less than 10p, 99 copies would be a fraction more than 5p each, and 75 copies would be 7.5p each!
This means that selecting “Interpolate Matrix Values” will do three things.
  1. Your digital pricing will appear to be more professional, more like litho.
  2. You will no longer have to answer the question “Why are ninety copies more than a hundred?”
  3. You will have subtly increased the price of the intermediate quantities in the matrix without increasing the price of each ‘step’.

If you haven’t previously considered making this simple but effective change to your PrintSmith setup, perhaps now would be a good time to do it.

If you require any assistance, please contact me on 0121 288 5355.

Pricing large format by area

PrintSmith Deep No. 6. Pricing large format by area

Do you really know how much money you are making out of large format print? Many of the print businesses that I visit have their large format print definitions set up on PrintSmith as colour copiers, with separate copier definitions for A2, A1 and A0. This is fine as far as it goes, but to do it properly requires the pretence that your roll stocks are actually x/number of pre-cut sheet of whatever size, usually resulting in inaccurate pricing. It also means resorting to guesswork if a customer wants a different size from those that are set up on the system.

An alternative (or perhaps additional) way would be to set up a proper large format definition. This will allow PrintSmith to calculate large format print prices by the square millimetre. So to price correctly, you would simply enter either the ‘A’ size or any width and length dimensions, as long as they are within the total roll size of the stock. Another advantage of this method is that your roll stocks can be correctly costed and priced on the system enabling more efficient competitiveness and profitability. Pricing can be calculated from either the finished size, or the run size, thus enabling accurate costing and the pricing of longer runs.

Setting this up will take a couple of hours, but improve the efficiency of your large format print enormously!

For an instruction document or assistance in this please call Paul Stokes on 0121 288 5355.


Account Ranking Reports

PrintSmith Deep No. 5. (New) Account Ranking Reports

Going to the Reports menu and ‘Account Ranking…’ will open a new window to access a more varied way of ranking customers than in the old Customer List report. Use Account Ranking to rank accounts by different criteria and save the rankings.

Next to “Rank accounts by:” is a drop down menu that gives access to a variety of ranking types. For example, the most popular of these is ‘Sales by date range’. Select this and you can rank customers (or prospects) by any date range you want.

On the right hand side of the window there is a panel marked “Ranking storage”. You can save up to seven different custom rankings based on different criteria. You do not need to have Reportwriter to use Account Rankings, but Account rankings are also saved in the customer database and can be used in conjunction with Report Writer.

After you specify all the ranking criteria, click the ‘Run Ranking’ button to generate the ranking results. Sort the ranking results by clicking the column headers in the bottom half of the Account Ranking window.

Shared Pricing Data Among PrintSmith Systems

PrintSmith Deep No. 4. Shared Pricing Data Among PrintSmith Systems

If you have more than one PrintSmith system (perhaps at different locations or stores), you can set up charge, press, copier/digital, and stock definitions on one system and then export definitions from that system and import them into one or all of your other systems. This allows you to standardize your pricing definitions when appropriate without having to recreate them on all your systems. If you later make changes to a charge, press, copier/digital, or stock definition you shared with other systems, you can export the changed definition and update the definition on the other systems. In order to export and import pricing definitions, the Enable Pricing system Import/Export features check box in the Behavior preferences panel must be selected (Admin > Preferences > System > Behavior). When this check box is selected, the Charge Definitions, Press Definitions, Copier/Digital Definitions, and Stock Picker windows include an Export button and the File menu includes an Import command. (After selecting the Enable Pricing system Import/Export features check box, you must restart PrintSmith for the File menu to include the Import command.)

Marketing Dates

PrintSmith Deep No. 3. Marketing Dates
The ‘Marketing Dates’ fields can be found in the SL menu under Contacts/Marketing (or SL/Accounts/Marketing). Enter up to five dates that can be used for any purpose. The first date, Follow up, is just a suggestion to give you an idea how the date can be used. To make best use of the dates, label them accurately. The labels for each date are stored in the Marketing Date Labels table which you can edit with Table Editor. Reportwriter reports can then also be utilised to take advantage of these dates.

Ageing Periods

PrintSmith Deep No. 2. Ageing Periods
The ageing periods that appear on statements and account ageing reports can be customised on the PrintSmith Master. They can be accessed by going to the Admin menu/Preferences/Ageing periods. This window controls the Ageing periods for 'Account Ageing', and the captions in the printed statements and reports. Usually, 'Past Due:' would show '30', 'Delinquent:' would show '60', and 'Frozen:' '90'.

If you wish to amend the ageing periods, simply enter the number you require, then click "OK", and "Close".

Sharing Templates

PrintSmith Deep No. 1. Sharing Templates
Invoice and job templates, can preserve profitability, save time, improve consistency in pricing and speed up the process of training staff. Templates can now be shared across your network and be accessible from all workstations.

A typical example of a job template would be of a Multiple Job such as a divided document presented in a four-ring binder with colour inserts in the front and spine. Each part of the job can be set up with it’s charges in place ready to be edited for quantity and change of stock etc.

Profitability is preserved by having all the relevant charges already in the template. Time is saved, and consistency improved, because the job is already set up, and templates are particularly useful for inexperienced staff.

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