HOW THE WEB IS CHANGING EVERYTHING IN THE SIGN INDUSTRY

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1 HOW THE WEB IS CHANGING EVERYTHING WHITE PAPER HOW THE WEB IS CHANGING EVERYTHING IN THE SIGN INDUSTRY And what you need to know to take advantage Topics included in this paper Introduction SaaS and Cloud-based services Key benefits of SaaS and Cloud applications How you can use the web to impact your sign business Tips for implementing SaaS and Cloud solutions About KeyedIn Solutions

2 Introduction CHALLENGES: ENHANCING VISIBILITY AND CONTROL OVER THE SUPPLY CHAIN AND OPERATIONS, FROM INITIAL ESTIMATING TO DELIVERY IMPROVING EFFICIENCIES TO ACHIEVE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE TAKEAWAYS: SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE (SaaS) AND CLOUD APPLICATIONS ARE THE NEWEST WEB COMPUTING PLATFORMS THERE ARE BENEFITS IN USING LOW-COST WEB APPS, INCLUDING INCREASED REVENUE AND COST SAVINGS YOUR WEBSITE CAN BE USED FOR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE The world of technology and information sharing is changing quickly, and the sign industry is not exempt. Just to give you an example of the speed of change, here is what Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, refers to as The Brave New World of 2016, according to Social Media 2012: 1. The Internet will be dominated by Chinese language content. 2. Today s teenagers are models for the future: they jump seamlessly from app to app. 3. Five years is a factor of 10 in Moore s Law, so computers will be way more powerful. 4. Routine broadband over 100MB means no distinction between TV, radio and the Internet. 5. Lots more online videos... lots! This is heady and futuristic stuff, but the main fact is this: there has been a transformation in how technology has evolved to support businesses in the past four decades. Where is your organization on the following technology continuum? Paper based Mainframe or service bureau Client server applications Installed PC applications ASP or hosted applications SaaS/ Cloud-based services to make your business run better, faster, cheaper The old fashioned way 1970 s 1980 s 1980 s 1990 s Early 2000 s Mid 2000 s Today 2

3 SaaS and Cloud-based services What exactly do we mean by SaaS and Cloud-based services? Here are some commonly accepted definitions: Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a service provider and made available to customers over the Internet. Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a metered service over the Internet. The following graphic illustrates the cloud from a technology architecture standpoint. While there are a lot of details, the key point is that all this complexity doesn t have to concern you. All the applications in the cloud area of the diagram are managed by your service providers. Or to put it another way, they take care of the technology details, leaving you free to concentrate on your core business. Cloud computing Servers Laptops APPLICATION Desktops Monitoring Content Collaboration Communication Finance PLATFORM Object Storage Identity Runtime Queue Database INFRASTUCTURE Compute Block Storage Network Tablets Phones 3

4 Characteristics of a true SaaS or Cloud application There is a lot of confusion regarding what constitutes a genuine SaaS or Cloud application. There are some legacy applications that are offered on a hosting basis, but have limitations that render them unfit to carry the label of SaaS or Cloud applications. Here are four criteria you can use to test whether an application or service is legitimately SaaS: 1. Zero client: This means that there is nothing to install, either on your server or your desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone. 2. Multi-tenant: This means that everyone runs off the same master software code and database it is not necessary to have your own version of the software. 3. Configured, not coded: Configuration means that the application can be customized according to your specific requirements, through drop-down menus, screen layouts, field choices, etc. No changes to the code are ever required, making upgrades simple and painless. 4. Internet access: All you need to access the application is a web browser and access to the Internet nothing else is required. Key benefits of SaaS and Cloud applications We ve defined SaaS and the Cloud and defined the differences between a genuine SaaS application and a hosted SaaS application. But why should you consider an application built for the Cloud instead of a traditional installed system? Here are a few of the benefits that are reported by the premier SaaS consulting firm THINKStrategies: Accelerated software deployment with less risk Lower up-front costs: pay as you go No IT or additional hardware required Greater reliability, security and privacy Higher productivity and faster ROI, at a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) Greater agility to scale software to meet changing business requirements 4

5 How the web can impact your sign business The web can be an extremely useful tool to help you grow your company and then sustain it for competitive advantage. Following are six major areas that can be improved by properly utilizing web-based SaaS and Cloud applications: Business impact area 1: Managing the marketing and sales process Relationship Management (CRM) systems can be used to support important business development tasks, including: managing your prospect list (database); qualifying and following-up on sales leads; coordinating each step in the sales process; and collecting valuable data on what is working and not working in marketing and sales. Business impact area 2: Estimating and quoting As a sign company, estimating and quoting are critical to your business. You want the ability to create quotes and proposals in minutes, not hours, as well as create quotes from scratch and templates, copy and edit previous quotes, attach anything to a quote, and base your quotes on up-to-date labor rates and material prices. Business impact area 3: Shop floor control An efficient shop floor is critical to a sign manufacturer s competitive advantage. You need to manage your production activities so resources stay focused and jobs are delivered on time. As work orders are created, individual routing sequences are established and scheduled, and component material requirements are identified as dependent demand on the work order. Jobs are tracked in a real-time basis, and production capacity is optimized. Business impact area 4: Supply chain management Managing inventory levels and material costs are important aspects of creating profitability. Inventory and purchasing are tied together to reduce customer lead times and manage inventory in real-time. Inventory is managed automatically and inventory balances are optimized. Likewise, purchasing is streamlined from P.O. generation through vendor management and price history management. Material requirements planning (MRP) is an important component in supply chain management, allowing you to accurately schedule orders, optimize material resources and improve cash flow with faster deliveries. 5

6 Business impact area 5: Cost control Accurate and timely costing information is a key enabler for tracking actual costs to estimates and effectively responding to any cost overruns and/or implementing price adjustments. Tracking job costs is critical to providing accurate and timely quotes. You want the ability to automatically collect actual costs on the work order, such as material, labor, burden and outside process costs, make real-time inquiries into estimate vs. actual costs, and aggregate job cost data to easily adjust costing standards. Service Relationship Management (CRM) Estimating Shipping Job Costing Production Purchasing 6

7 Why application integration is as important as functionality We have discussed the major areas where SaaS and Cloud applications can benefit your sign business. But there is something just as important as the functionality in a departmental application the way those applications work together in areas like data sharing, reporting and real time notifications. The following two graphics illustrate this point. Competitive disadvantage: the non-integrated enterprise Finance Finance Marketing Operations Production Marketing SaaS Integration Support Delivery Support Delivery The graphic above shows where many firms find themselves. The company may be partially run with paper-based (manual) processes. Or it may use certain applications like estimating or accounting that do exactly what they are supposed to do from a functionality standpoint. However, the greatest productivity improvements come when you are able to put all areas of your business on a single cloud platform. Like the following graphic shows, with everyone on a tightly integrated solution, you will eliminate data redundancy, improve communications, and gain instant visibility into your business. 7

8 The alternative: achieve competitive advantage with technology integration Finance Finance Marketing Operations Production Marketing SaaS Integration Operations Production Support Delivery Support Delivery Important tips for implementing SaaS/Cloud applications We hope that you have learned some valuable lessons in this white paper about how you can use the web to improve every aspect of your sign company. and marketing, estimating, shop floor management, cost control, accounting, efficiency and profitability can all be enhanced greatly by productive and integrated applications. Here are four important tips for evaluating and implementing online applications: 1. Business processes should always drive the software, not vice versa. Work with companies that will work within your established best practices and not try to force you to change your business processes to accommodate the software. 2. Make sure you carefully outline the project scope and requirements up front. This will save you a good deal of time, money and frustration downstream. 3. Whenever possible, use a SaaS product based on your specific industry and not a generic version. For example, most ERP systems have a generic structure because they can be used by a wide variety of businesses. Such systems require a large investment in configuration, training, and customization to meet the unique needs of sign manufacturers The right consulting partner can make a big difference in successful implementation. Look for a company that not only thoroughly understands the application you are considering but also has good knowledge and extensive experience in the sign industry.

9 About KeyedIn TM Solutions KeyedIn Solutions is focused on helping organizations simplify processes, improve performance and drive results. The company s Cloud-based software systems not only offer greater flexibility, but effectively scale as business needs dictate and can be implemented quickly, delivering a measurable ROI months, or even years ahead of on-premise systems. And KeyedIn offers a true SaaS model, making its solutions affordable for every budget. KeyedIn Manufacturing is an ERP system that helps custom manufacturers work smarter so they can increase productivity and bring new products to market quickly, for a distinct competitive advantage. KeyedIn Projects, the company s project management suite, helps businesses and professional services organizations improve everything from project initiation to execution by managing programs based on top-line strategy and delivering profitable projects to the bottom line. And when new solutions need to be developed quickly, KeyedIn clients turn to KeyedIn Flex, the company s rapid application development (RAD) platform for affordable applications designed just for them. When businesses need results fast, they look to the Cloud and turn to KeyedIn Solutions. You should too. Keep up with us at Corporate Headquarters 5001 American Blvd West Suite 1010 Minneapolis, MN 55437, USA p Part of the KeyedIn Solutions Business Portfolio EMEA Headquarters Maple House Woodland Park West Yorkshire, BD19 6BW, UK p +44 (0) Copyright 2013 KeyedIn Solutions. All rights reserved. KIMS_AE_WP_WEBCHANGING_0213

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