Solution Architects

Unfortunately, it’s not the people conveying “box features” as many thought. Shanti Kumar, CEO of Sydney-based Quote & Print shares his sentiments with Print Pack Publish Asia.

Many printers today are under the impression that the purchase of a press is the most expensive investment a company has to make. It does not help that banks are getting more stringent in their filtering process to grant financing to big-ticket purchases. The focus subsequently shifts to having to make the investment worthwhile by having enough business to keep the press running.


While the majority negotiate global price wars, just breaking even adds to the agony. Shanti Kumar, CEO of Quote & Print, shares the same sentiments. He notes: “The top two questions customers ask today are ‘How much?’ and ‘When can I have my goods delivered?’. 80% of printers in the world don’t know their costs. Figures are spread across spreadsheets and never constant. If you don’t know your costs, you cannot manage your business properly.”


He comments on the irony surrounding MIS (Management Information Systems) – many are more willing to part with their dollars on presses, not aware that managing costs is pertinent to remain viable. “MIS or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), is basically managing your systems. Quote and Print’s MIS is very vertical and niche, and only for printing businesses,” he highlights.


Started in 1981, and officially acquired by Kumar in 2008, Quote & Print currently commands the Australian market – a whopping 600 units, with some 50 sparingly across New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea.


In his fifth year into the business, Kumar is more than aware of what constitutes a good MIS. He illustrates: “Very few printers have really good MIS systems. Most printers have workflow software, which manages their RIP into the printer.”


The misconception about MIS


“There is a big difference between press manufacturers and solution architects. Solution sellers understand the company’s business, which transcends inventory control! The question is about cash flow and converting inventory into that! The sense of understanding includes print business and the owner’s mindset, rather than themere selling of a press,” he clarifies.


It’s worth noting software provides better control for businesses. However, what is the answer to “classified information”? Kumar assures, “There’s the flexibility of opening selected modules to respective hierarchies. You can have people having access to specific modules, also blocked from modules that contain classified data.”


When asked if he has to negotiate tough prejudice against the idea of MIS, Kumar surprisingly has different feedback. “On the contrary, we have no problems. Printers would speak to us if they want a system. They rarely want to change systems: it’s a massive operation to do a system change. I often show the customers the true cost of owning a system.”


More than just software, Kumar illustrates the monetary overview. “There are about four to five costs to be considered. The initial purchase turns out to be the least amount spent, and that is the biggest deterrent. People often omit the costs of installation, training and modification. The last is especially essential since source codes are never distributed for such purposes.


“The most expensive cost is bringing your staff to be proficient; it takes two years to have staff certified able to use MIS proficiently and enjoy the benefits of the system. There’s no problem talking to printers. Instead the biggest factor that hinders printers from adopting MIS is the assumption that “it’s too hard”. Generally if the CEO or the project manager is not using the system, the value remains unseen,” he explains.

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