InfoPrint Offers ADF Software as a Service
June 28, 2011 Alex Woodie
Mid-sized companies that have wanted to create an automated document factory (ADF) to handle their printing, sorting, and mailing workflows, but were put off by the high cost, have another option now that InfoPrint Solutions is making its ADF software available as a service delivered over the Internet. As part of InfoPrint’s Managed ADF Services, which was unveiled in March, companies can get the benefits of a centrally managed and monitored ADF for less than $5,000.
The concept of an ADF is not new, according to InfoPrint Solutions’ worldwide offerings manager John Hankins. The concept, which was put on paper many years ago by Gartner, has been successfully employed by many large companies to manage the end-to-end workflow of large volume printing operations for items such as statements, bills, and explanations of benefits. While most companies would prefer this kind of stuff be handled over the Web, the fact remains that older, richer people still prefer to receive hard copies in their mailbox instead of sifting through spam to see it via email.
InfoPrint Solutions ADF software, called ProcessDirector, helps to bring together the various aspects of the print-to-mail cycle, including pre-print processes–such as merging data with templates and address verification and cleansing–the actual printing, and post-print processes, such as sorting and applying postage. Tracking customer response by using barcodes is another aspect of the ADF.
“This is admittedly a niche market that a lot of people don’t think about very much, but in fact it is a very complicated piece of work,” Hankins tells IT Jungle. “There are a lot of organizations that are still very dependent on bringing cash in the door, based on how effectively they can get those bills out the door in a way that is timely, accurate, and auditable.”
The two big areas that InfoPrint seeks to help clients with ProcessDirector are compliance and postal automation. Postal automation–which accounts for 70 percent of the costs of a print-to-mail operation–is the ripest for savings, Hankins says. “There’s a lot of different things you can do with postal regulations, which are constantly changing, that allow organizations to take out postage costs by moving to an ADF solution,” he says.
InfoPrint does not provide the so-called CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) software that lets big mailers get the best postal bang for their buck with the United Postal Service. But ProcessDirector does plug into third-party CASS products to let customers incorporate those solutions as part of their total ADF. The software also works with non-InfoPrint printers and mail sorting machines of all different types.
Up to this point, only very large companies that mail tens of millions of documents per month could justify the expense of purchasing and implementing an ADF solution such as ProcessDirector. But now that InfoPrint is offering the solution as a service accessed over the Internet, it can be cost-justified by mid-sized companies, Hankins says.
“What we’re doing with this offering is making it available to mid market customers–regional banks, smaller insurance companies–those sorts of organizations that have traditionally not been able to afford this solution, even though there’s been a clear payback, because of upfront capital investment required,” he says.
“So rather than a customer licensing this with a large up front payment, we’ve made it available on a monthly basis, with a minimum subscription fee. It’s also driven by their print volumes. The second piece is we do all the administrative work. We set it up; we act as the administrator. In a lot of cases, the guys in the print shop either don’t have access to skilled technical resources within their IT organizations, because they’re too expensive or simply don’t [have people with those skills]. We’re trying to address both of those pieces with the midmarket customer.”
InfoPrint has partnered with software as a service vendor Savis to run ProcessDirector as part of the Managed ADF Services offering. All types of server output is supported by the solution, including any line data, PCL, or Advanced Function Printing (AFP) formatted documents generated by IBM i servers or mainframes. ProcessDirector converts everything into AFP for the greater control it provides over print jobs, but there is no requirement that the customer be using AFP with their printers or print workflows.
An entry-level subscription to Managed ADF Services starts at less than $5,000 per month. For more information, see the vendor’s website at www.infoprintsolutions.com.
This article was updated. Managed ADF Services starts at less than $5,000 per month.