Is There Value in Tracking Every Piece? Passionate Print and Digital Experts Explain

Tracking jobs coming through a print and digital delivery production environment is not a new concept; neither is the idea of going a level or two deeper to track each piece within a job. In the communications creation, production, and delivery market we call this Piece Level Tracking (PLT). Piece Level Tracking provides a more granular level of information within a production environment. It is able to open doors to more information and opportunities for efficiency, workflow process improvements, and optimization.

In this latest Solimar Systems video series, Pat McGrew, Managing Director of McGrewGroup, and Drew Sprague, President of Solimar Systems, discuss the concept of Piece Level Tracking (PLT). As part of their discussion, along with some humor, they share how Piece Level Tracking has changed over the past few decades and why you should trust the capabilities of Consumer Off-the-Shelf (COTS) software. And, as Drew points out, there are a lot of pieces of infrastructure, which for most organizations means finding a trusted technology partner to achieve a functional solution sustainably.

Other must-watch features of Pat and Drew’s conversation include taking a bit of the magic and mystery out of PIece Level Tracking (PLT) while sharing the importance of having a flexible, modular, and scalable solution. After the worldwide pandemic experience, many organizations must carefully consider their implementations, availability of labor and how they can achieve improvements to their process, and offerings while meeting efficiency and cost savings goals. As Pat and Drew advocate, it is critical to know you can achieve Piece Level Tracking in a phased approach while still realizing the possibility of a quick implementation.

Join Pat and Drew for the rest of this ROI-boosting video series! Watch the next video in the series where they tackle how Piece Level Tracking (PLT) can be leveraged in mailing automation while also taking advantage of the PDF file format standard through assembly capabilities.

Hey Drew. It’s so cool to be able to talk about things with you and this morning I want to talk about piece level tracking because across all of the print mailers that I deal with regularly, they really consider it sort of a black art. They’re not even sure that that you can really do it. And yet it’s something that you’ve really worked hard to develop and you’ve got customers who are being really successful in it. Why should somebody trust piece level tracking?

Well, the easy answer is that it works. It’s very doable. I think why people have struggled to this point to implement it is that there are a lot of pieces of infrastructure you need to put together to make it work. But we’ve packaged those all up because as you know, having been in the business for now, 31 years, we’ve had the time to build lots and lots of widgets that play together very nicely.

And for all that need piece level tracking, it’s allowed us to solve the problem. Includes a lot of different pieces. Job tracking, certainly the ability to archive content like individual mail pieces and retrieve that data and compare it to what the Postal Service reports.

So, when I think about piece level tracking, I always think about like the largest companies, the largest print mailers, because they’re under a lot of pressure to prove that they’re delivering into the mail stream and things actually landed in people’s mailboxes. But I know I’ve talked to some of the Solimar customers that I think of as being sort of more in the mid-tier. So, does the solution sort of scale depending on the size of the print and mailer we’re working with?

Oh, certainly. You know, some of the people who need piece level tracking the most are relatively small enterprise users. Certainly, insurance companies want to know that the content that they’ve mailed out has gotten where it’s intended. And so, it’s actually quite a broad market And, what’s happening is companies are getting their legs back under them from the COVID experience. They are prioritizing these, I guess you’d call them more compliance issues, which piece level tracking kind of fits in that area. And they’re making available the resources to pull that together.

So, the more intense oh, I’m sorry, the more intensely people are pressured to prove that they’re actually delivering, and that’s going downstream, you can help everybody who’s got that requirement?

That’s right. And they can implement this in a very tactical sort of way so that they pick off the applications that are most essential to get going soonest and then grow it to other parts of the business where it may not be so critical at all right now.

Is it a long time to get it set up and install? Because, you know, everybody is under time pressure and nobody has a lot of staff.

Well, it really for those people who are already vested in the kind of software that we produce, it’s a very, very short time frame to get it up and going. Where projects get a little bit longer is when you want to integrate it with other systems that aren’t naturally part of our ecosystem. And that’s because you have to deal with the interfaces with those other components.

OK, so what you’re telling me is that for all those people who believe that piece level tracking is a black art and you need a combination of Merlin and eight or nine other wizards to make it all work, that’s really not true that you actually have a process and a set of features that can make it work for anybody from midsize to enormous.

Well, that’s right. And importantly, when you implement a system like this, you get a lot of collateral benefits because you can then start suppressing pieces that you don’t want to mail. You can perform just electronic delivery of certain components and track when those are delivered versus components that actually go into the post and get delivered. And you can complement it with information. For example, you’ve got packets that need to go out that maybe go through UPS or FedEx or something like that. You can track those in addition.

So, it’s not just for USPS. It’s for everything that leaves the building, whether it’s on a network or its physical envelope or package. That’s right. I think a lot of people don’t know that. So that is a really excellent learning.