Printvis is one of the industries most comprehensive ERP/MIS solution for the graphical industry, made by Novavision A/S.
Printvis handles estimates, planning, salaries, inventory, finance, budgets, reporting, purchasing and more…
In this program we meet the people behind Printvis, general manager and co-owner manager Kasper Tomshøj and employees of Novavision.
Novavision, which means New Vision, was founded in 1997. Based on Microsoft Dynamics a new MIS system tailormade for the graphic industry Printvis has been developed.
Printvis is a calculation and resource planning system that should bring ease to printers. Planning and pricing of complex graphical products regardless of production technology.
Novavision has grown ever since and is today represented in many different markets and even operate their own subsidiaries in Norway, USA and with a head quarter in Denmark. Several hundrede printers world wide today rely on Novavisions software. Novavision is developing a standard software solution that afterwards is developed further according to customers specific requirements and needs.
When we talk about ourselves, we would say we are developing an ERP system for the Graphical Industry, in tight connection with Microsoft. The difference between a traditional MIS system for the Graphical Industry and an ERP system is the range of functionality that is within the system; where an MIS system is typically Management Information System collecting information for the management. And then the ERP system is a full-blown administrative system, so that will be including well, more-less everything you need in the Admin World; so that will also be, all your inventory, your finance system, your payroll system, what have you. Our strategy from the very beginning when we’ve started the company was to build on what we could find what’s the “best of breed” – the standard ERP system and then build on top of that our knowledge for the Printing Industry, so that you would have a total solution, giving whatever a printer would need. Now it is all about having customers connecting Online, having Web-to-Print solutions, integrate it. The World is changing constantly. So, we continuously have a long list of functionality we would like to put into the system. Our development is not as such, customer driven. What we do is – we make a standard system, a standard software. And a very important part of our strategy is exactly that we are producing a standard software. And of course we get input from customers; we get great ideas from customers, all over the World, where we are inspired to build different functionality into our system. But I think it was, what’s Ford who once said – if he had asked the customers what they have wanted, they didn’t want the car, right? They’ve just wanted the stronger horse. So, we try to not only give the customers what they tell us they need, but also give the customers what we think is needed in some years from now.
I would say personally, probably our biggest challenge is Web-to-Print, being on the Internet and making it easy for the customers to actually go in and create estimates quotes themselves, really, really quick and with the ease of use, even though that we have a complex estimation system behind it. We work really on all aspects and we always keep in back of our mind that – the more lean we can make the production process, the better. So, Printvis supports lean manufacturing and often we have to change some things with a customer to make them think more lean and to make the production more lean. What we actually see is often that they have a lot of manual processes, or they have even 5, 6 different not-intel systems that should support each part of their entire production process. And what we try to do is lean up, so everything runs through Printvis and everything really runs in a lean, smooth process. That means, from a moment you create an order, from an estimate, from a request, whatever; then we also know that the warehouse needs to check if paper is in stock, or we need to purchase paper, when can we have the paper; so all the scheduling, all the logistics is a part of the Printvis. Should the people adapt to the software? Should the software adapt to the people? That is an extremely good questions. In all honesty, it’s a mix. So, there are some things where Printvis does things in a certain way, and where we want to have the customer do that, because otherwise they’ll not benefit from what else the system can offer in the next link, on the next line of business, but there are also a lot of places where we can just print this to meet the customer’s specific demands and requirements.
Our approach to this business is simply – we come from the ERP World, we come from the Microsoft Dynamics World; and had moved from there to the Printing Industry and try to add all the knowledge we have from a business software and add that into how to administrate a Printing Company. Whereas, most of our competitors, at least the ones I know of, have the opposite approach – they come from a production environment, and have developed from there into the admin part of it. The benefit gives us to be so tight up with Microsoft. There’s of course a lot of things that we don’t have to do ourselves, simply because we have shared development with Microsoft, we have weekly meetings with our Development team and Microsoft Development teams and that means that we benefit from all the hard work that they do. That’s a nice position to be in, especially now, when technology is moving so fast.
When you have to change people’s habits, that’s a totally different story and that does take a lot of convincing and it does take a lot of actual examples to really percent, how the software can do it with the ease of use and without all these manual processes that they are used to doing. Right now we are working on a big project with the Danish client, where they are introducing a completely new front-end for the customers and potentials for the sales personnel and the sales personnel inside the company. And that means that in the end, they hope to get 60-65% of almost a 130 000 orders a year in through this portal, to be either calculated from a template, or to actually be calculated on the fly, get the price back and all the requirements that is making this job ready for production, already present, without being touched by human hands in the company and that is really, really interesting project.
If you look at the product and what has happened in the last years, you would see tremendous development had been put into this, as everything is moving to the Cloud and everything is moving to brand, new technology. And we can really feel when this is happening. It’s good to be in a position where we are tied up with a major player, so we don’t have to do everything on ourselves.
What came with this, the whole new thing that the Cloud gave us an opportunity to do was a different license models, for now we have in Printvis, which means that they can now rent a solution and bring the set-up cost down. So, if they both bring up the set-up cost to a minimum and also do not have to buy servers and new hardware and install all that things – the overall is that you can actually enter this at a very low cost. We have customers that are down to two people in an office there.
It’s very easy to use.
We accept that it is kind of difficult; I don’t want to say difficult to set it up, but you have to do a lot of think processes to set it up properly, but once done – it’s very easy to use.
We’ve tried to make this a very easy process. There is no serial engagement installation of any software I guess, but we have worked hard to make sure that the setup process is as easy as possible. So, we have a templated setup that takes a week and bring within a day. We can make a workable solution; not the end-solution, but a workable solution that will allow the customer to try and test some things in their database.
I would say that they get one, what we call – ERP system; so that means one system that really contains it all, including – finance, human resources, calculation, production planning, job costing, invoicing, everything in one package, in one system. So, we actually saw our customer stating in their I think, 25th Year Anniversary, that they have now been running Printvis for almost 15 years, with an up time above 100%. I don’t know quite how they should work, but actually it never brought down.
The development of our product is managed here from our office in Denmark. We have developers who are physically based here; we have developers that are physically based in Germany and Holland, but since everything has moved to the Cloud now, we have close-daily Tele Conferences and Video calls and so on. But, we manage the development from here and we gather all the different input from partners and customers. And every year then decide on a Road map. Strangely enough, we see our biggest competitor is actually the decision of doing nothing and you should think that the entire Printing Industry already has bought into ERP solutions and my solution. So, coming from the outside, you might have the picture of MIS vendors, fighting each other to push one out and get the other system in, but in reality that is not what we see. The major decision for not choosing a system like ours would be to decide not to do anything. And even though we are in the 21st century, we actually see a lot of printers, that does not have an MIS system, but works with yellow Post-it notes, excel sheet, shouting at each other tons of phone calls. And our biggest competitor is printing companies deciding: “We know this is wrong, we could see we should do something else to be more competitive, we simply don’t have the time to put effort into it. So, we will stick with yellow Post-it note and shouting at each other.”
The pricing is per month, per user; and then we have a three different User categories. There is a base user, which is the first user that’s actually, for instance in the American Market – $299 per month, just for the base and nothing else. And then you have your different User Profiles. We have a user which has to; for the users who have to invoice and do things like that, we have a user price of $199 per month. Whereas sales people and order controllers etc. – they will be able to work for $89 per month. And then you have your Shop Floor users, which are offerable for $59 per month, from the Shop Floor, from the home, office etc.
I think that nobody wants, I mean even if we are in love with our product and we cannot see why everybody wouldn’t throw themselves on implementing an ERP system, right? Then we just have to accept the fact that, especially in smaller printing companies – this is just not the thing that you find as most exciting. Right? And even though you know you should so this, it’s probably not first in your agenda and it’s something that you postpone and postpone, until it’s absolutely necessary. And of course, we don’t understand that, right? It’s just like when you have to look at your retirement plan, or to buy your insurance – we all know we should do that and we should look at our retirement plan, but it is so boring to look at, right? They know they should do it, they know the value proposition, they know: “Yes, we should do this, but let’s just postpone it a month or next year, because we need to do some production here. We have a printing machine running.” And it’s always easier just to jump on the problem you have today, then thinking about: “We should do some investment; and we should implement some more software, some more systems in order to be more competitive tomorrow. Let’s postpone that, we’ll talk about it tomorrow.”
And also the benefit of this model is that actually over a slower period, they will be able to turn down the number of users. So, whereas where you buy a license with Microsoft, you buy it for 10 users for instance and then you have the 10 users no matter what. But in this model you can actually go from 10 to 5 and to 10 again, and you save the cost during that period, when you have the lower volume of the orders, or things like that; so that’s very flexible in the pricing. We’ve deployed this with Office 365 for instance, so it’s all in the package. It’s integrated, so you can buy that along with it and then have your Office packages; not license per piece, but license at a very, very low cost per month and that integrates completely. What we have now is smaller customers with some where their basic need is to know that they can turn it off and the entrance barrier is lower. So, their risk of getting going is lower. The customers who will still prefer the purchase license will be larger customers, where that calculation is different; where they will already have a good dealer service, so that part of the equation is out for them. They are more dependent on their own internal; they will have internal IT etc. There will be a lot of customers where they will prefer the purchase license anyway. But, the way that we see things are going and the way Microsoft sees things going with the office licenses, for instance – we can see that the rented versions are much more popular, even with larger companies. So, I think it’s a phase and it’s slow transaction, but it’s a transaction. If you move from a Cloud server to a local server, a local document server, of course there is some movement thing; but program-wise there is nothing changed in it.
Even though you say the Printing Market is shrinking and you see less and less printers, we see a huge potential self. Of course the original Offset printers are getting fewer, but they are also getting more professional. So, a lot of the traditional Offset printers know that it’s not only about having the fastest printing machine – it’s also about having control of your processes. But, our typical customers are not just the Offset printers. Especially in areas with Label printing and Packaging, we see a huge growth right now and I think that is; the markets we’ve seen have the largest growth, the last 2-3 years. That has been impacting a label. We have a lot of work there. One of the big changes in the last 1-2 releases has simply been the entire User Interface and the integration with other Microsoft products. And that means that we are moving to embrace more of the users, more of the user roles in the company than we did before. So now, any of the pieces is not just for the finance guys and the guys in production. We are highly integrating with the CRM systems and enabling remote sales persons to travel around with a tablet, talking to the customer, looking at the tablet doing quotes right they are on the site and making sure it’s very efficient there. So, enabling the sales guys really to be efficient and to be part of the internal procedures in the entire company is one of the biggest focus areas that has been in the last years. I think the single most important thing for Printing Industry to recover from the financial crisis is simply to make the decision that we are now recovering. I mean you need to get out of panic mode and you need to get out of the mode where you see everything as an excuse. There is always an excuse, because we have a financial crisis in these tough times, so we don’t need to do anything and we just have to sit and wait until this is over. In my opinion, I don’t know if it’s over, it’s not going to change. I mean the World is here now, so now is the time to look at your company, to start working on the apostasies and accept that the way we worked before the crisis is not the way we are working today, but it’s probably not coming back. So, the way the environment looks today – get prepared for it, because that is the way you are going to work in the next years.