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Case Study: Printworks Streamlines Job Processing from Purchase Order to Delivery

Leverage technology in a commercial printshop to yield better results, delight client, and have happier staff

Executive Summary

Leveraging technology, Printworks yields better results, delights clients, and has happier staff. Visibility of the entire operation empowers the owner to make decisions quicker and more accurately. Printworks clients benefit by jobs completed on time and staff aren't saddled with hunting down job statuses and monotonous data entry tasks.

About Printworks

Printworks has served the Lynchburg & Central Virginia surrounding areas since 1994 providing the area’s most comprehensive printing services available. From concept to delivery, Printworks delivers your commercial print jobs on time and on budget.

Visit Printworks at https://printworksva.com to see all they have to offer.

After using a digital workflow for my operations, I don't know how I ever managed without it. - Charles Burks, Printworks Owner



In printing, a job is a workorder that is processed as a unit of work and has a specific quantity, paper size, ink colors, etc. When a client places an order, that order can represent one or more jobs. For a simple example, when you receive a bill that needs to be paid, there were three jobs processed to fulfill the needed printed material: the mailing envelope, the bill itself, and the return envelope.

Challenges and Objectives


Printworks had a paper-based process for many years that met their needs but as the business grew, keeping track of individual jobs, their related orders, where they were in the workflow, and notifying customers of their order status, became unmanageable and the owner knew he had to make changes.


The owner had a number of objectives including:


After understanding the process flow and makimg necessary changes to support an online workflow, Judith Creek Consulting implemented the following functionality:

Job Tracking

The core of the solution is a web application where orders are tracked from order creation to delivery/pickup. Various means to search for the purchase order as well as individual jobs, group jobs by client, and perform various functions such as automated notifications and printing.

For larger clients, jobs are created using an OCR workflow described below. For smaller clients that don't have standardized purchase order submittal, job templates allow for expedited entry into the job tracking system.

OCR for Inbound Purchase Orders

Some Printworks clients are large mailhouses and purchase orders are submitted in a standardized way and, most often, in PDF format. Some of these purchase orders are standard PDF documents and some are scanned PDF so we needed a robust solution that could handle both. Because these purchase orders come as attachments to emails, Judith Creek Consulting implemetnd a solution that included a unique email address that emails from clients could be forwarded to.

Once our special email address receives the message, the PDF document is processed through the OCR engine and the required data extracted and loaded into the web application. If the user ever needs to refer back to the actual purchase order, the PDF can be viewed and downloaded as needed in the web application.

Customizable Output Documents

To meet the objective of making changes to a document without the help of a developer, the web application has a document processor that can take a standard Microsoft Word file and populate it with any data tracked in the web application. If you are familiar with Microsoft Word and have used the mail merge functionality, you already have a good idea as to how this works.

Printworks resources can create the Word document with template strings to place the data where needed. For example, if the person creating the document wants the job number to print, they simply add ${job_number} to the document. If changes are ever needed, the document can be downloaded, changes made, and then uploaded back to the web application where it is available for any printing functions related to a job. The processed document is converted to PDF for printing and sharing purposes.

Print from Anywhere

Once a document is generated, that document may need to be printed at a number of different printers on the shop floor. Work orders are needed at the beginning of the process, box labels during packaging, and delivery tickets at the dock door.

The implemented printing solution allows anyone with the proper web application permissions to print to any printer on the network. This may not seem like much but keep in mind that this is a web application running on the public internet that can be accessed from anywhere. The solution implemented allows the web application to communicate with the local printers behind the Printworks firewall.

Barcode-Enabled Processing

Changing order statuses, printing labels, and batching deliveries shouldn't require staff to stop and update the workflow using a keyboard and mouse - manual entry is prone to errors and interrupts the workflow.

When a workorder is printed, it serves as a traveler - a document that goes along with the job for tracking purposes. The workorder has several unique barcodes that allow for system updates and printing.

Going Forward

Now that the web application for job tracking along with OCR and barcode functionality, the possibilities are seemingly endless:

Judith Creek Consulting

Helping organizations achieve process/software fit.