The Presstimator is a new software program which helps web printers estimate the cost of web printing jobs. The program prompts the user for detailed job specifications in a step-wise, question/answer, user-friendly, WindowsÒ interface. Completely customizable costs and standards (Shop Settings) can be adjusted at any time to create sophisticated and reliable estimates. It was first introduced in May 2001 at the Gutenberg Festival in Long Beach (managed by Graphic Arts Show Company, GASC), has appeared in June 2001 at the NEXPO tradeshow in New Orleans (sponsored by Newspaper Association of America, NAA) and will be presented at PRINT 01 in Chicago, September 613, 2001 (GASC). The Presstimator will be released at the end of Summer 2001.
Components of a quote generated by the Presstimator include: Customer, Format, Sections, Composition, Film, Press, Paper, Ink, Plate Changes, Folding, Skids, Bundles, Cartons, Inserting, Finishing, Mailing, and Delivery. After using the Auditor to check for overlooked charges, a Markup Scheme can be applied, an Additional Ms price can be determined and the quote is complete. The Analysis screen can help the user perform cost studies by providing subtotals of selected categories, such as the cost of materials vs. selling cost and paper as a percent of total cost. Once a quote has been created, the user can easily change the selling cost by adjusting the markup. The Presstimator makes fine-tuning easy! The Quote History database stores previous quotes so they can be retrieved, modified, updated with new prices, saved as new quotes, and used for cost studies.
All of the Presstimator's reports are sent to Microsoft WordÒ for customizing, editing, printing, faxing, e-mailing and storage. Reports for each quote include Customer Quote, Job Ticket, Invoice, Skid Tags, Shipping Manifests, Departmental Time Summary, Materials Report, and Analysis (categorize and subtotal costs as Materials, Manufacturing or Miscellaneous). In addition, a group of quotes can be summarized on a Billing Report. The Presstimator's Quote History database can be sorted and filtered to display only a desired set of saved quotes. For example, you can view all the quotes for a specific customer, prepared by a certain Estimator, or between specified dates. The Billing Report will summarize and total the sorted quotes so you can easily track your jobs by month/quarter/year, by type, by customer, etc.
By using the Presstimator, web printers can maintain a competitive edge with a fast turnaround time for creating estimates for potential customers. If the job specs change, the estimator can quickly and easily make changes to a quote to prepare a new estimate. The Presstimator is the ultimate tool for generating fast, reliable calculations time after time.
The Presstimator is not only a new product, but it is truly unique. It is the first stand-alone estimating software program to focus exclusively on web printing. The Presstimator represents a new technology that can help web printers move into the 21st century by replacing simple spreadsheets and time-consuming pricing tables with a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use Windows® application. After seeing a demonstration of the Presstimator, several tradeshow attendees commented "I wish every printer had this program," (because inexperienced printers that produce unrealistic quotes are hurting the industry). Other first impressions included, "Youve thought of everything," and "You get a lot for your money." Tom Caston, President of Central Web Offset Ltd., responded to a product demonstration by saying, "Ive been looking for something like this for 25 years."
Because the primary goal of the Presstimator is estimating (rather than integrated data collection, accounting, etc.), it generates very detailed and accurate quotes. Customizable Shop Settings conform to the standards of any size shop and can handle any size job. The Presstimator not only calculates a quote for the base job but also determines a cost for Additional Ms (which includes per M charges but omits make-ready and setup charges). Such sophisticated data handling also enables multiple sections, multiple stocks and inks within each section, different presses and press make-ready times for each section and multiple configurations for plate changes. For added flexibility, the estimator can use one of the many Override buttons to change values and make substitutions without affecting the Job Specs. A red flag reminds the user of the change and numerous Notes fields can be utilized to annotate the quote.
Summary screens break costs down into categories (Materials, Labor, Finishing, Misc.) and allow each of the 33 items to be marked up separately. Sets of markup values can be stored and recalled for future quotes; these "Markup Schemes" can be developed for a particular type of job or a particular customer. The Profit Calculator in Shop Settings helps the user determine the correct markup needed to achieve a desired profit. This Profit Calculator can be used to quickly and easily create complete Markup Schemes such as "10% Profit" or "20% Profit Materials Only". The Markup Schemes and the Override buttons make "what-if" scenarios easy to create and give the estimator several ways to adjust the selling cost.
While the Presstimator has obvious applications to the commercial web printing industry, it would also be useful for non-commercial web printers, such as newspapers or school districts. Rather than using the Markup Schemes to apply a profit, they can be used to distribute overhead expenses. The Presstimator can effectively track in-house jobs and expenses. The Invoice and Billing reports can be used to charge expenses to each department, project or unit.
The Presstimator is an innovative and powerful tool for the web printing estimator. The easy-to-use software interface and the automatic calculations not only save time but ensure that shop standards will be consistently applied. Any part of the program, including Job Specs, can be accessed at any time while preparing a quote so the estimator can make instant cost comparisons using a different paper stock, ink, press, etc. Requoting and fine-tuning are no problem since the Quote History database makes quote retrieval, modification and updating fast and easy. For example, if any prices have gone up since the last time a job was quoted, the estimator can open the old quote, import the current costs from Shop Settings (with the click of a button) and use the "Save As" function to save the new quote with a new name. The Presstimator can also save time since it does more than just create quotes: it also generates job tickets, skid tags, shipping manifests, invoices and billing reports.
Overlooked charges in a quote mean lost revenue. By offering customizable Shop Settings, prompting the user for thorough job specifications and keeping track of the details, the Presstimator can help the web printer recapture all their costs. Not only does the Question/Answer format and the Auditor virtually eliminate costly oversights, but the detailed quotes created by the Presstimator can be analyzed and used for cost studies. For example, after completing a job, the estimator can open the original quote, save a duplicate under a new name and enter the actuals for comparison. This feedback can be used to adjust the Presstimator Shop Settings so more accurate quotes can be generated in the future. The estimated materials/time vs. actuals may also be used to identify weaknesses in the production process. The Presstimator can quickly pay for itself and more, since accurate and detailed estimating helps the printer eliminate errors, determine costs, track the bottom line and meet profit targets.
Star*Key Software was created in 1999 as a privately held company to address the estimating needs of web printers. As a software company, Star*Key Software worked in consultation with an estimator who has over 30 years of printing industry experience from pressman to General Manager to President/CEO/Owner. The Presstimator was created by a team of professionals at Star*Key Software with experience not only in printing estimating and software development, but also in management, finance and education. The resulting product is a sophisticated software program that is easy to use.
The URL for the Presstimator web page is <http://www.presstimator.com>. In addition to containing FAQs, product features, sample reports, contact information, and tradeshow links, the web page offers an interactive, online product demonstration. Screen shots from the program are image maps that contain "hot spots" and let the viewer navigate through the tabs, click on Calculators and Selector buttons, and view Shop Settings.