Most of the knowledge necessary to run successful print and mail operations was made available to us in elementary school, specifically third grade. In those small desks, we learned of the multiplication tables we use today and how one simple mistake made repeatedly can have a significant, negative compound effect. How does this affect your operation? What issues can have this level of impact?

Can You Identify The Problem? Consider the following example of a client who was recently experiencing quality control issues around job failures and misplaced work. Jobs entered the operation from various sources and via a variety of channels, including JES, FTP, email and hot folders. Due to the nature of the work -- both short- and long-run monochrome and color -- a single job management solution wasn't available. Traditionally, each work type utilized its natural job management forum, such as invoices via JES and POD materials via the hot folders. Separate personnel were responsible for the different job types, making standardization less of an issue or focus.

This lost opportunity finally manifested itself in the form of quality issues raised by the organization's clients. Without good standards or procedures, jobs were incompletely or inaccurately processed, causing issues for the firm and its clients. Manual record totals within each job were recorded in a three-ring binder, along with time and date information and any special comments, such as "reprinted due to bad print quality" or "hold for client confirmation."

With several hundred jobs a day, some very small with less than 20 documents to medium-volume invoice batches of 30,000, a few miscalculations daily spread over a multitude of jobs started to add up to an overabundance of quality errors that couldn't be ignored. The lack of control and inability to manage all the work from a central location became the driving issues that ultimately provided the justification for a technology upgrade.

An Obvious Answer An Enterprise Output Management System (EOMS) was necessary to gain control over this situation. While there are several fine solutions available in the market today, our client's requirements helped define the appropriate fit for their situation. Our assistance in the technology evaluation and selection process helped compress the time to install, reduced the risk of an incorrect selection and ultimately saved the client money over their standard evaluation process.

As with many infrastructure upgrades, our client was able to install the system on a separate platform and run parallel processing to finalize acceptance testing and ensure the system was fully functional prior to the full conversion. This migration made the most sense as it allowed for tandem processing, printing and testing of an identical job to ensure 100% accuracy. Separately, the new system was stress and load tested to confirm success under a full production workload, a critical scenario that occasionally is overlooked.

Ultimately, our client's quality issues abated, and the old systems were sunset.

As illustrated by the client example, we often see where issues manifest in areas tangential to the actual need. With this in mind, we advise organizations to keep a close eye on your processes and supporting technology to keep you safe from those simple issues that occasionally catch us off-guard.

Kemal Carr is the President of Madison Advisors, an advisory firm that specializes in print and electronic communications. Kemal also acts as a principal analyst for Madison Advisors. He provides project-based advisory services designed to assist clients with business strategy and technology selection decisions. To contact Kemal, email For more information on Madison Advisors, visit