Here's a dirty little secret about estimating printing: If the software is hard to use, the manager gets to do all the lifting - price every job, work up every estimate. In The Hidden Cost of Simplicity, you'll meet Goofy and Cousin Mel, two frequent flyers in Morning Flight. Discover why the two are a match made in heaven.
This will be our last monthly newsletter. No, we're not calling it quits. We'll still fly by on a regular schedule, just not as often. Last month you told us you wanted more emphasis on using the product. Publishing bi-monthly will give us more time to produce how-to videos, always the most popular link in every issue.
Unitac International Inc.
The Hidden Cost of Simplicity
Leonardo da Vinci defined simplicity as "the ultimate sophistication." Most people understand that it takes more work to make things simple than to simply make things work. Fair enough, but here's the thing: Whenever you invest long hours to make things easy to use for some people, you drive others up a wall, frustrate the daylights out of them. Doesn't matter whether you design doorknobs or estimating software.
Morning Flight was designed from the ground up for use by office staff with limited estimating experience (our Cousin Mel). That means validating every input to make sure it's within reasonable bounds. On a number of windows you'll find an "umbrella" button you can click to turn this safety feature off. Except you don't really turn it off, you just expand the validation range. How do you know you're in questionable territory? The umbrella turns into a mug shot of Goofy.
As beneficial as validation is for keeping Cousin Mel out of harm's way, it can also stop qualified estimators from quoting 6-1/4 envelopes on a big Heidelberg. That's the hidden cost of keeping it simple. If your press can handle them, here is how you can quote those envelopes: First, make sure data validation is off, then reduce the minimum sheet size to 3-1/2 x 6 in My Shop > My Presses.
Tip for Experts: If you're the only one using the program, you can keep the safety off globally by disabling data validation in My World > My Preferences.
What it really costs to estimate
Telecoms and airlines may be credited with inventing those much-loved surcharges, but it didn't take long for software publishers to jump on the nickel-and-dime bandwagon. Shorter product release cycles, higher maintenance fees, tech support for only those who upgrade, the list goes on.
If this sounds like a lead-in to why we too may be eyeing creative "extras," it's not. You'll continue to find Morning Flight at the low end of the price spectrum. But you're right, I am leading up to something, and I have no qualms about saying this: Despite our obvious price advantage, when you shop for estimating software, make licensing costs your secondary consideration. The hours a good program can free up should be your first.
Sure, the mandatory upgrades and tacked on fees are distasteful, but unless your shop can support a full-time estimator, ease of use is everything. Letting you hand off penny-ante pricing chores is the whole point. With thoughtful automation and fail-safe data entry logic, there's no reason the lion's share of estimating can't safely be entrusted to Cousin Mel. That's Morning Flight's main selling point, giving you time to do better things.
How'd they fold that?
Just when you think you know all there is to know about folding, along comes Trish Witkowski with another super-cool fold of the week. Trish is Chief Folding Fanatic at foldfactory.com, purveyor of inDesign folding templates, and author of three books on folding. Count 'em, three! Did I mention Trish is passionate about folding?
The Flight Engineer
What it is:
A plug-in that currently ships free with all Gold and Pixelblitz editions. Still in beta because we're constantly adding things. However, what's there is stable enough for release.
What it does:
Controls Paper Inventory, creates Paper Shopping List, records Job Data, exports Customer File.
What the Flight Engineer will do, eventually:
Allow fine adjustment of virtually every internal mechanism in the Morning Flight pricing engine. For instance, when you adjust the spoilage slider for letterheads, you're selecting one of five waste factors (1% to 15%). The Flight Engineer will let you manually change all five factors. Ditto for makeready, run speed, and a host of other parameters, pretty much anything that controls the Gold and Pixelblitz editions.