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Books International

Books International streamlines
production with ePS Midmarket
Print Suite

Discover how Books International streamlined processing, implemented a system to scale with their business and provided more details on job statuses throughout the production process.

 

Print ePS - Books International (4)
"I see ePS Pace as the industry standard in print MIS and was excited to implement it here at Books International. It’s already made a huge difference in our workflow and that will only improve moving forward.”
Dixie Shaffer Director of Pre-Manufacturing Services, Books International

About the company

Since 1984, Books International, a family-owned and operated company, has provided fulfillment services and in recent years expanded its services to include print-on-demand and digital services to publishers worldwide from the company’s headquarters in Dulles, Virginia. 

The company manages more than 200,000 titles and produces $200 million in orders each year from its headquarters in Virginia and a satellite facility in Chicago. Books International has more than 150 employees.

The challenge

Books International, a manufacturer of digitally printed books, has two production workflow streams: Its core orders, which are primarily first print runs of higher quantities, and its shorter-run print-on-demand orders for stock replenishment and print-to-order. 

While the company had a homegrown system consisting of an SQL database and Access front end, Books International was looking to replace it with a more functional solution that could streamline processing, scale with the company’s growth and, among other things, provide more details about job status at any given point in the production process. 

Books International had already purchased ePS Pace™ MIS/ERP software when Dixie Shaffer joined the company as director of Pre-Manufacturing Services. She was familiar with Pace from a previous employer and was anxious to help Books International implement the system as its Pace project manager. The company also acquired ePS PrintFlow® to automate scheduling for both core and print-ondemand work streams.

Operating level
circle-check Icon - eProductivity Software Managing more than 200,000 titles per annum
circle-check Icon - eProductivity Software $200 million in orders per annum
circle-check Icon - eProductivity Software More than 150 employees

The solution

Books International aimed to boost workflow efficiency through a phased implementation of the ePS Midmarket Print Suite and ePS PrintFlow scheduling solution. They started with core production, learning and optimizing the system by manually entering core orders. They streamlined print-on-demand by importing jobs from XML, creating a separate job for each ISBN, and using electronic data interfaces to process orders efficiently. Now, Pace is the central hub for their workflow, offering a comprehensive view of each title's status within print-on-demand orders. While ongoing refinements continue, this approach allowed them to quickly benefit from the system and improve print-on-demand billing.

Striving for the next level of workflow efficiency

Books International chose to take a phased approach to implementation of the ePS Midmarket Print Suite powered by Pace, and ePS PrintFlow dynamic scheduling solution. “We have been growing quickly, and expect to continue that growth,” Shaffer said. “We had outgrown our legacy system and were looking to Pace to help us get to the next level of workflow efficiency.” 

Shaffer notes that while the tendency in implementing a new MIS/ERP workflow is to try to incorporate all desired features and perfect them before launch, Books International felt that approach would delay its ability to quickly benefit from its Pace investment. “We decided to start with our core production first,” Shaffer adds. “We receive daily about 100 core orders but thousands of print-on-demand orders. So, it was much more manageable to work out any kinks with core orders before tackling print on demand.” 

Books International went live with core orders in August 2019 and has been using Pace for print-on-demand orders since May 2020. At Books International, core orders, which are first-run books, are entered manually and managed by a CSR. 

“We learned a lot about Pace and how we could effectively use it by manually entering these orders,” Shaffer said. “Core jobs are entered first as an estimate, then converted to a job and scheduled through PrintFlow. It’s our print-on-demand workflow that makes us unique and that required a fair amount of customization during the implementation process.”

Streamlined print on demand

According to Shaffer, Books International was the first Pace implementation to import jobs from XML. She explains, “We gather printon-demand orders throughout the day, and in the evening, we generate an XML file that includes all of the book data, order information, pricing and shipping instructions, all batched to Pace, and that’s when the magic happens.

Each ISBN is a separate job. An estimate is created on the fly for each order and then reconverted to a job in Pace. You could have 20 different orders for a single ISBN, and those are aggregated into a single job, or you could have just one order for a given ISBN. Each has its own job number and estimate within Pace.”

Most orders are placed electronically through an electronic data interface. For print on demand, files and metadata for each title have been set up in advance, allowing print-on-demand orders to be automatically processed and sent directly to the press. 

Status is then updated in Pace to reflect that the job has been sent to press. “Pace is now the brains of our workflow instead of working with a group of standalone systems,” Shaffer says. “That enables us to quickly get a status of each individual title within a print-on-demand order.” There is still more work to be done to perfect the process, according to Shaffer. “We wanted to start using and benefiting from Pace quickly,” she says, “and so we didn’t try to do everything at once. We are currently in the process of refining the print-ondemand billing in Pace.

Midmarket Print Suite

Browser-based, scalable, and customizable print MIS/ERP solution purpose-built for the commercial print and display graphics industries. Powered by certified end-to-end workflows designed to provide print workflow management solutions that provide out-of-the-box value, ePS.

Pace™ offers a powerhouse of solutions that:
  • Increase operation efficiencies
  • Maximize profit potential
  • Optimize print production and time-to-market
  • Streamline operations by reducing touchpoints

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The result

In the first month, we ran parallel billing on a legacy system; soon we will be exclusively using Pace. The next step is implementing inventory tracking through Pace, and we will continue to add other capabilities as we move forward.” 

The company has implemented shop floor data collection for core jobs and plans to do the same for print on demand. “Right now, we know that print-ondemand jobs have been sent to the press and when they are complete, but we want access to more granular data, so we know exactly where everything is in the process at any given moment.”

Shaffer also notes that change management was a big part of the implementation project. “Staff that had been here for a while naturally resisted change, while newer staff loved the system right off the bat.” Shaffer notes that the company had a few false starts in its Pace implementation process, but once the company assigned a full-time programmer to work on the project and determined that we didn’t have to implement everything at once, implementation took off. “That’s a lesson learned,” she says.

  • Enhanced Efficiency

    Optimized workflow and operations.

  • Scalability for Growth

    Adaptable to rapid business expansion.

  • Detailed Job Status

    Real-time production tracking.

  • Streamlined Print-on-Demand

    Automated order processing.

  • Improved Order Management

    Better core and print-on-demand handling.

  • Successful Change Management

    Smooth transition for staff and improved visibility.

quoteBG

“Visibility into the production process is very important. Before we implemented the ePS Midmarket Print Suite, CSRs spent too much time inquiring about job status.”

Dixie Shaffer,
Director of Pre-Manufacturing Services