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What jobs do you need your print management software to do?

When using software that doesn’t quite meet your needs, you put up with its shortcomings for a while until you reach a tipping point where it hits you that “this just isn’t working.” 

As a print buyer, maybe that’s where you are right now: your print management system requires too many workarounds. The question, then, is how to evaluate the alternatives.

A recent WhatTheyThink article by Jennifer Matts offers solid advice around three broad objectives: making the best decision possible, managing the change process, and getting to know the vendor. The article asserts that many printers approach these objectives in the wrong way.

One point in the article bears closer examination. In hopes of getting the best possible software solution, Matts explains that businesses often create a wishlist or spreadsheet of software features and capabilities their business requires. But such eclectic lists aren’t very useful because many items are so generic that any vendor could meet them, while others are irrelevant or based on legacy systems and processes.

With this kind of wide-ranging list, it’s hard to end up with software that’s any better than what you have. Rather than a kitchen-sink approach of seeking software that does a little of everything, Matt urges evaluators to focus on whether the software can solve specific business process challenges relevant to the type of software (don’t expect it to do things it’s not designed for).

Interestingly, this approach echoes the jobs-to-be-done theory of marketing, introduced by Clay Christensen in The Innovator’s Dilemma back in 1997. He argued that people decide whether to buy something based on how well it does a “job” they need to have done. They essentially “hire” the product to do something specific for them.

So when you’re evaluating print management software, it would be useful to ask yourself:

  • What specific job or jobs am I hiring the software to do?
  • What evidence does the vendor provide that its software does these jobs well? (Vendors may make exaggerated claims about the software—get proof, for example, a demonstration.)
  • What services am I hiring the vendor to provide (for instance, support, customization, training)? Does the vendor I’m considering provide these services?
  • What other customers have “hired” this software/vendor and how satisfied are they with the results?

When you get fed up with workarounds and decide to invest in new print management software and service, it pays to make sure the software you choose will do what you’re “hiring” it to do.

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