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Front- and Back-End Tools

(March 2014) posted on Wed Mar 19, 2014

More than 30 sources for business-and-management software.

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Yes, the production and installation aspects of a job are terribly critical – after all, clients are paying you for top-quality work done within their often-unreasonable time constraints.

But just as important in ensuring that a project is produced efficiently and profitably are the various front-end components – estimating, managing inventory, project scheduling – and an assortment of back-end aspects – warehousing, shipping, invoicing, and so on.

Business-and-management software can help you successfully address your shop’s front- and back-end challenges. The right software puts in place a variety of systems, tools, and strategies that can make your company more effective at what you do. It helps you to take the guesswork out of profitability when it comes to these aspects of your shop workflow.

In our look at business-management software that follows, we’ve focused on standalone tools that are primarily geared toward print providers (not generic business software), and we’ve noted when software is specifically engineered for digital print work and/or specialty graphics. We have not included RIPs that simply have business/management modules or features (but see the sidebar), nor have we included software aimed at production processes.


Activity Software
Created specifically for the signage and graphics industries, Activity Advantage allows users to create estimates and work orders; manage inventory, vendors, and ordering information; generate accounting and production reports; market to customers; export to Quickbooks; and track customer contacts and notes. Also allows for: job-profit reports, automatic inventory updates, surcharge capability, and ability to use Art Approval and Estimates online. Its Shop Floor provides for the tracking of jobs through production, creation of time and productivity reports, and job scheduling.

Avanti Computer Systems
Avanti’s Slingshot incorporates business intelligence (CRM, dashboards, reporting) and production planning (estimating, automated purchasing, scheduling, sales orders), plus warehousing, shipping, and billing. It leverages JDF/JMF and XML to communicate with key applications within the shop, such as Web-to-print, production workflow tools, and post-press and production equipment. Slingshot can be Cloud-based or hosted on-premise. Various print-production modules also available.