The Folks Creative Printers, Inc.
Helping a Large Commercial Printer Manage Operations
The Folks Creative Printers, Inc. is a large commercial printer located in Marion, OH. They produce high-quality printed products for vendors in the automotive industry. Their main products today are labels for automotive paint cans but they also handle a variety of label products. The nature of their products, and business, means a custom intranet application is a must.
What began as an advertising agency in 1919 has turned in to a large production facility with the capability to mass-produce and ship printed products all over the United States and the world.
The Folks has been operating for decades, and though their niche specialty means a firm hold on a corner of the market, their focus poses some unique challenges.
Data entry involving order tracking, order management, invoicing, and inventory management can become cumbersome and time-consuming for staff. Not to mention, ordering new labels can be complicated, even for repeat customers.
So, The Folks turned to Link Software to help them develop a streamlined system. The goal was to help them simplify order input, invoicing, inventory management, and more. Ultimately, saving time and increasing efficiency.
In this case study, we’ll take a look at how Link Software built a custom intranet system and customer portal for The Folks Creative Printers that helps manage the daily tasks of meeting their customer’s needs.
The Folks did have a software solution for managing data, but it was outdated and challenging to use. It had a poor user interface and plenty of cruft, and no longer met the needs of their business.
That being said, when The Folks turned to Link Software, they had a few significant hurdles to overcome.
Complex Order Entry
Orders for new labels were coming in from multiple channels: email, phone call, fax, and more. The staff at The Folks had to field orders in different formats, with varying details. They then had to manually input orders into a system, increasing the likelihood of error and miscommunication. This also led to wasted time and labor.
This challenge was only compounded by the fact that many customers gave generic orders. They would leave out specific details required to input the correct order. That being the case, the staff was left to figure out what the latest version of their product order was. Again, costing more time and energy.
Disorganized Shop Floor
The Folks had no real organizing plan despite having tens of thousands of paint can label varieties. When a new order came in, the shipping department would manually have to look for the correct product. They often were relying on memory alone to find and retrieve the correct item.
No “Off-the-Shelf” ERP Option
Each paint can label for The Folks came with a number of details involving label type, order tracking, and more. A standard ERP isn’t designed to handle the “niche” details of what The Folks required for order entry and management. As a result, standard ERP software couldn’t offer a sufficient solution for their needs.
To help The Folks tackle the challenge of streamlining their order management system, organize inventory, and more, Link Software built a custom intranet application that included the following:
As mentioned above, part of the challenge of The Folks’ order management was the sheer number of varieties of paint can labels they provided. So, Link Software created a custom inventory management solution to handle the 16,000+ SKU’s offered by The Folks, creating the foundation for all other custom software features.
Easy Order Handling
After shipping labels, a final step that must occur is the order closing – in other words, the staff has to verify that the specified quantity of labels was printed and shipped. Link Software built a feature that allows staff at The Folks to simply input an order number to automatically verify that the labels have been printed and shipped – making it fast and easy to close an order.
Again, this ensures that everything is done in real time, and requires very little data entry.
Next, Link Software created a client portal that would allow customers to order new labels easily. The client portal allows users to log onto The Folks’ system, search for specific labels, select quantities and shipping destination, and submit. Both parties then receive an email confirmation with order information. The order details are automatically submitted to the Folks’ system. This is important for the staff, who can then turn an order immediately into an automated ship ticket.
Customers can also use their custom client portal to view their own detailed order history. This provides valuable information they can use for future orders.
Automatic Invoice Generation
Every night, The Folks’ custom software solution sifts through orders that were placed the previous day. The system then automatically generates detailed and accurate invoices. All staff needs to do is perhaps double-check additional details and print a PDF of the invoice.
Link Software built the system so that it pulls in tracking data from shipping companies like UPS, FedEx, XPO Logistics, and Holland. Shipping costs, when available, are then automatically attached to the proper invoices.
In any case, invoicing now requires almost no data entry from the staff at The Folks. This is yet another time and labor-saver.
Improved Inventory System
As mentioned above, The Folks didn’t have much of a strategy for organizing the chaos on their shop floor – leaving staff to waste time and energy on searching for correct quantities when they were ordered.
So, Link Software developed a barcode system that would help staff at The Folks use a physical scanner to quickly find the correct SKU’s. Each box of labels has a barcode, along with a barcode for each physical shelf, or market location. The result? Faster, easier location of labels on the shop floor.
By delivering a custom software solution to The Folks Creative Printers, Link Software helped dramatically shift how this specialty printer internally manages orders. Let’s recap the core benefits of The Folks’ custom-built intranet application:
- Saves time and labor. The Folks’ new system automates many aspects of order entry, reduces manual entry, automatically generates invoices, makes it easy to find physical orders, and more. That being said, staff across all departments are able to do their jobs more quickly and efficiently. The ultimate result? The Folks save on labor costs and gains the ability to scale.
- Simplifies ordering. Not only does The Folks’ new system benefit their own staff; customers also get to benefit from easier, simpler ordering through a customized client portal.
- Reduces mistakes. Manual entry is far more likely to result in errors and mistakes. By automating data entry and storing information about tens of thousands of SKU’s, The Folks’ custom solution ensures the delivery of more accurate orders and less “fat fingering.”
- Creates better workflows. Finally, The Folks’ custom software solution improves workflows and processes, creating a better working environment for employees, and potentially reducing turnover.
Build Your Own Custom Intranet Application
If your employees are wasting time on manual data entry, or if your out-of-the-box ERP simply isn’t cutting it anymore, you may want to explore a custom intranet application.
Link Software can partner with you to build a custom application that perfectly meets the needs of your business, no matter how niche. By creating features and systems that match your workflows we can help you to save time, improve workflows and processes, and build a system to scale.
If you’d like to learn more about custom software with Link Software please fill out the form below: