Automation Is Just a Part of the Picture (Video)

Automation Is Just a Part of the Picture (Video)

Almost no-one can agree on what workflow automation is, especially in the print-on-demand industry. That’s why I’ve created this video: to explain two different perspectives on the subject.

Watch the video to find out why automation is only part of the picture if you want to continuously improve as a business. You’ll also discover why seeing things from a broader perspective could deliver big results.


In workflow automation, one question that everyone struggles with is, what is automation? Personally, I don’t like the word automation to describe what we do, which sounds a bit strange. Because the problem is that most people define automation as either one, pre-press file and auto manipulation, pre-flighting and color workflow, those sorts of things, or two, that means machine automation, replacing people with machines or helping people work faster. And the thing is that both of those views are super narrow. You miss so much of what else occurs in a factory to get a product out the door if you only think of automation in those two ways. Automation is how you do something, not what needs to be done. Many times to improve, you don’t have to automate a function, you just need to execute it better. So I think a far better word is efficiency, which means in what we’ve done in the ZenSmart platform, is that we’ve really built an efficiency platform, a set of tools in order to enable you to do things more efficiently. Efficiency is broader in scope. It involves examining every process stage that you’ve got and looking at how seamlessly does one process stage transition to the next? Is each process operating at its peak efficiency? You think of it that way, and the focus is not merely on the automation of the tasks, but on optimizing how you move things between your process stages. So sometimes it might be something as simple as just introducing a due date color logic scheme on all of your job sheets or tweaking instructions on a job sheet or refining communication via a dashboard in the plant. None of those are automation tasks, but they could have a massive impact on your efficiency. And that’s the power of focusing on efficiency. It’s all about a focus on the outcomes, not on how you go about doing it. So what we’re recommending is that we should really go about shifting the language, and rather than focusing on workflow automation, that we should be focusing on efficiency as the outcome. So imagine that language shift. So that’s the Thought Bubble for the week. That’s it for this week. Please go well. Thank you.

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is the CEO of ZenSmart, a leading workflow automation platform that streamlines manufacturing in On Demand plants across the world.


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