To Build or Not to Build Web2Print
Whether you build or buy your Web2Print solution, if it is implemented correctly, it will add many benefits to your business.
The aim of this guide is to save you time, money and stress, and we will explore the three main options so you can make an informed decision.
Over the last 17 years, we have seen this decision considered and debated in thousands of businesses. It’s important that everyone in the decision making unit understands the needs and the implications for all options. The decision to go ahead on a project could be based on inadequate information, especially when it comes to allocating resources and this could mean the difference between success and failure.
Let’s Talk About Building a Web2Print System
From the onset, the option to build is a romantic one. It’s something that “could” open new doors to new markets delivering exactly what your business needs. It’s something that you have just for you, and you’re in the driving seat. It’s a great position to be in.
The reality, however, is that software application development is a long and expensive process and has a requirement for a high degree of skill. Knowing someone locally could be the shortcut you need, however there is great potential for delays and spiralling costs. New problems can be uncovered every single day of the project, and every day after: it’s like fighting the Hydra! If you do it well, you will have an asset, but you will also have an ongoing cost that your infrastructure will have to grow to support. If you can’t afford to make mistakes, this isn’t the route for you and ROI will be a long time coming through.
Remember that your solution needs to be robust, scalable, secure, reliable and adaptable for multiple customers, as well as future proof. It must meet client expectation without fail and the latter is no mean feat! Do you have the skill and budget to start this project? If you do, that’s great for you.
What About Buying Web2Print?
Each Web2Print solutions provider focusses on specific markets, offering different feature sets. Buying is an excellent option, but the key is to pick the provider that best fits your business. You’ll also need to ensure that the company will partner with and support your business rather than scarpering after the initial sale.
While each solution will be different, yours must adhere to industry standards in terms of procurement, composition and integration. The solution should offer regular updates and a transparent road map of where it is headed. You also need assurance that you and your customers have access if you wish to make changes to any element within the application, as this will directly impact your business.
Using Web2Print is an ongoing process as technologies develop and change. Software cannot stand still, and this is why you need your provider to be a partner, not a supplier.
Hybrid – Buy-and-Build
A hybrid buy-and-build solution enables you to purchase a ‘system engine’ or document composition engine and overlay your own interface to make the site look exactly how you want it to look. There are many well-known Web2Print solutions that provide this service and it can be an effective solution.
Building a hybrid Web2Print solution is theoretically more cost-effective than building from scratch. However, the seven points listed below will be critical to your success, so costs have to be realistically benchmarked against buying off the shelf.
This method allows you to save time and investment compared with building from scratch and enables you to build a specific solution for your desired market, whether it is B2B, B2C or both. However, bear in mind that a significant level of expertise will be needed; both in-house to manage it and either internally or externally to build it.
What You Need To Know
Direct or Reseller
If you buy direct from the company that owns, develops and supports the software, you will gain access to the system development, and can rest assured that updates, advancements and security are integral to the product’s development.
Resellers generally have greater sales reach, but you need to work out whether they are introducers or Storefronts. This may be reflected in the commitment and support your business experiences.
Look to your provider or partner for help both in the delivery of a solution to assist your business but also in the retention and securing of business. Granted most often they may have to charge you but if their success is relative to your own, then it is in their interest to do so.
Solutions that don’t connect to other solutions will stunt business growth. There are front-facing integrations into procurement, ERP/CRM applications that feed the solution, and back-facing integrations that feed other solutions. Web2Print should be seen as a cog in your engine, turning other cogs to power orders through the various stages, including procurement, production, MIS and invoicing. Every time you ‘touch’ a job it costs you money, so the more touches involved the less profit you will make.
One of the key failure points in the delivery of Web2Print is that people don’t fully understand the world of accessing online portals. That’s a bigger topic for another day, but it’s worth considering the following aspects:
• Proprietary software: Add-ons within the browser that enable additional functionality, such as Flash and Silverlight, which many corporates will block or may have issue with due to using older versions. Any B2B solution should be backward and forward compatible with browsers.
• The responsive requirement of your site to work across various devices and browsers, i.e. mobiles, tablets etc.
• Accessibility issues for browsers that allow them to be accessed by screen readers.
• Desktop access to the software to handle more complex issues directly into the online application.
Hosting must take into security, redundancy, scalability, continuity and reliability. Some solutions still come with a hardware requirement that may potentially add additional cost to your solution, look towards the Cloud as SaaS (Software as a Service) is well proven and fast becoming the standard.
Run a financial check on the business you have chosen to support your business. How long has it been in operation? Is it sustainable? Is it independent or owned by your competitor?
In addition to working with global and overseas contracts, internationalisation is required to support customer bases in national public and private sectors, such as health, local government and education. These sectors often require print orders in different languages.
What to Do Next?
The fact is, most people ultimately end up buying off the shelf, having tried and failed to build their own solution. A considerable amount of time and money has usually been wasted by this point. While buying a complete solution or a hybrid may sound expensive, it is usually more time and cost-effective in the long run.
If you’d like a complimentary evaluation of either what you’ve tried to do already, or to evaluate how Web2Print could help you cut costs and increase revenue, then please email [email protected] and we’ll be happy to provide impartial help and information.