Why Open Source for Print?
Open Source for Print is an initiative started by Pearl Street Consulting founder Charles Groce in late 2014. Working as an IT Manager at a medium-sized commercial printing facility based in southeastern Michigan until 2013, Charles was responsible for the deployment and management of a very expensive, proprietary, print-specific MIS system and its supporting systems. Despite the high cost of deploying this platform and the ongoing costs of maintenance, the system was full of shortcomings and difficult to customize. Critical job specific information was locked behind key people whose sole jobs was the laborious extraction of information out of the MIS. Standard features in any open source system, like the export of basic information to Excel instead of Crystal Reports, came with expensive price tags, siphoning off resources better put into other efforts like sales and marketing.
Thus began efforts to integrate the MIS with an open source platform built from the ground up with flexibility and the sharing of information in mind, which would allow the leveraging of the open source community in the satisfaction of printing industry software needs in particular. Linux was the natural choice, running an open source content management system on top of an open source virtualization platform. Virtually all of the information in the MIS was now available to any and all interested parties, in any form needed (Google Maps, Google Charts, automated emails, text messaging, etc.), including the customer in a website-accessible dashboard.
Although print is a unique manufacturing industry, many of its needs are in common with all sorts of other businesses in the economy. The open source community continually creates and improves tools which satisfy general business needs. Why can’t these tools be applied to the printing industry? They can and they will. Printing companies that understand the role of open source technology in their information system setup will begin to differentiate themselves in the market, and will be better at satisfying customer needs than their competitors who are locked in with the old ways of sharing information.
What the printing industry needs now is to be liberated from expensive, closed source systems which do not encourage higher levels of productivity internally and aren’t customer facing. The next time you’ve got an IT project, think open source first and reach out to us for a consultation or a quote. You can see an example of software created in Open Source here