Hassle-free Job Scheduling

In 2006, I sold the printshop some friends and I had founded back in 1969. Despite the fact that we had our own home-brewed computer estimating and order entry system up and running by 1979, our job tracking never left the oversized corkboard and colored pushpins we had hanging on the shop wall.

It wasn't because job tracking would have been difficult to code, but because in all those years I never felt the need for it. Some information that just works better on paper than it does on a monitor. Print professionals, of all people, should know that. We make our living putting information on paper.

And we're not the only industry where that's being recognized. The U.S. government has spent billions modernizing our air traffic control system. Yet when you board the plane for your next business trip, you're in the hands of ATC controllers who keep track of your airplane on strips of paper. The reason that time-tested system is still in place is not because the FAA hasn't tried to replace it. They just haven't come up with anything better.

Here is another key factor to consider: Tracking is only half the solution if it doesn't tie in with scheduling. I'll point out a third. Any stand-alone job tracking/scheduling system will be cumbersome and error-prone if not fully linked to order entry. Just think of all the duplication to keep job tracking in sync with your customer and order database.

Now, does print order tracking work on a computer screen? Sure it does. It will work phenomenally well once we can shuffle jobs around with our index finger on a 50-inch plasma. Until then, if you're interested, check out the Job Tracker that's built into the Gold and Pixelblitz editions of Morning Flight.

Me, honestly? If I had to start another printshop, I'd go back to the corkboard and wait for that big 50-inch touch-screen.