Peanut Butter and Workflow

By Elizabeth Gooding / Published:

Workflow isn’t a Kind of Software!

peanut butter workflowA workflow is a workflow whether or not it is automated. Your process for making a peanut butter sandwich can be a workflow. There are lots of different kinds of software that can be used to automate different processes, and those processes can be considered workflows, but that doesn’t make the software “a workflow solution.” Many excellent software vendors throw a wide array of their software solutions into a big bucket called “print workflow automation” and that makes it a very messy fishing expedition for buyers to find a solution for the particular aspect of a print process that they are trying to automate.

I was faced with this particular challenge when defining the categories we would use for the Software Finder app on Inkjet Insight. I proposed to my colleagues, and to the software suppliers that helped us work out the categories, that we wanted to avoid industry jargon as much as possible without being academic or obtuse (or purple or clairvoyant for any Steve Martin fans out there). The goal was to categorize in a way that would make it easier for buyers to find relevant products.  I think we can do that without using the term “workflow” as a category.

At the end of this post you can see the list that we came up with. Note that a particular software offering could fit into more than one category.

We appreciate the feedback and suggestions that we got from the kind folks at Crawford Technologies and Solimar Systems, but we would also like to hear from you. Do you find these categories useful for differentiating between different types of solutions? Is there anything we are missing? Feel like arguing about our definitions? Please get in touch.

Software Finder is free so take a look at the products that are listed now. We have a lot more information to add and it is growing every day. If you have a software product that you want to have listed (again – free) please request a listing form.

Finding the right software can make or break the success of an inkjet implementation. We hope we can make it a little easier.
Thanks for playing workflow buzzword bingo.


Category Defintion
Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Augmented Reality and other embedded experience tools specifically intended to extend the reach of printed applications to online/mobile/VR environments.
Automated Document Composition High speed formatting and composition software including Variable Data Formatting (VDP)
Color Management Software for color measurement, calibration, profiling and linearization in an inkjet environment.
Customer Dashboard Customer-facing production monitoring, notifications and reporting.
Customer Ordering Interface Web-to-print, mobile ordering, print hub interface etc.
Data Preparation Extract/Transform/Load (ETL) tools, data validation, append etc.
Data Security Data redaction, encryption and security.
Digital MakeReady Prepress, preflight, imposition, soft-proof and finishing preparation for inkjet printing environments.
Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Software that supports the automatic mirroring or replication of data at multiple sites to enable production recovery in the event of a systems failure.
ERP/Business Management Overarching solutions integrating several subcategories such as production modeling, production planning and materials management along with financial management and analytics.
Marketing Automation Marketing Automation for print and multi-channel delivery including message management, PURL generation, image personalization and other specialty solutions.
Materials Management Inventory, warehousing, accounting integration for print related materials.
Output Management Including grouping, batching, load balancing, print spooling and routing.
Postal Automation Sorting, grouping, co-mingling, processing, reporting.
Postal Hygiene Address and data cleansing etc.
Print Stream Reengineering and Transformation Stream-to-stream transformation, augmentation, editing and enhancement.
Production Modeling Production workflow design and simulation.
Production Planning Estimating (including ink), pricing, print MIS.
Production Tracking Operational production dashboards, monitoring, analysis and reporting.
Reprint/Archive print stream and data archive for audit and/or reprint purposes.
Resource Management/Conversion Editing, storage and conversion of logos, images, fonts, etc. for use in print production environments.
Testing Automation Stream compare, regression tracking .

Please suggest new categories or changes to the definitions above. Or tell me how YOU make a peanut butter sandwich. Thanks for reading all the way to the end.  Ferris Beuller says go home now.





About the Author

Elizabeth Gooding


Elizabeth is the Editor and Co-founder of Inkjet Insight. She has a rare ability to see print related issues from many perspectives. She has managed creative teams on complex design projects, selected outsourcers for major brands and helped print organizations to retool operations, focus their market positioning and educate sales teams to accelerate growth. She works with a team of top analysts to translate experiences into tools, data and content to help print organizations evaluate the potential of inkjet, optimize their operations and grow pages profitably. She is a founding member of the Inkjet Summit advisory board, the co-author of an award-winning book on designing for inkjet and a curious consultant constantly seeking innovative ways to drive new pages onto inkjet presses.

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