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The Other Shop Software

(January 2010) posted on Wed Jan 27, 2010

Tools for business and print management

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It tends to get far too little attention at shows like ISA and SGIA, and its slice of the pie chart is equally small when it comes to receiving publicity in print. You could easily make the argument that it is the Rodney Dangerfield of the print shop.
We’re talking, of course, about business and management software. The right such software can make your shop not only an efficiency demon but also a more profitable one—helping to ensure smooth workflow, monitor inventory levels, schedule jobs, handle purchasing, and more. And it typically allows you to do so in an intuitive manner—and with as little hardcopy paperwork as possible.

The list that follows is our annual look at business-management software. This year, we’ve also added another software type to the group: print management tools—software that is not a RIP but does address production or workflow efficiencies. Keep in mind that we’ve strived to include only tools that are geared toward print providers (not generic business software); nor are we including software that is primarily focused upon proofing, PDF, asset management, or variable data (although some of the tools in this list do possess some of these features).

Activity Software 
Activity Advantage allows users to create estimates and work orders; manage inventory, vendors, and ordering information; track jobs; generate accounting and production reports; and track customer contacts and notes. E-Advantage meshes the Activity database with online business capabilities, allowing customers to approve files online and view orders, order status, estimates, and payment history. With Shop Floor, users can track jobs through production, create time and productivity reports, and schedule jobs.

Avanti Computer Systems 
Avanti’s Graphic Arts Management System is designed for digital wide-format shops as well as commercial and in-plant print facilities. The system’s standard modules include estimating (including a “demand estimating” option for demand and specialty print shops); order entry; job costing and tracking; scheduling; inventory control; barcoding; shipping; fulfillment; shop-floor data collection; purchasing, invoicing, point-of-sale, and accounting integration; and JDF integration with plug-and-play or custom-integration options.

CiberQuote 2.0 is a quotation system for sign making. It allows for quick generation of quotations; materials specification; billable works-time specs (design, printing, cutting, assembly, etc.); payment methods indication; customizable print-quote formatting; and more. A database manager is included; advanced retrieval of past quotes is possible.