Case Study


A simplified MIS for the wide-format print industry.

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MIS covers Workflow, Job Management, Quoting and Accounting within a Printing Organisation.

The Wide Format print industry has grown significantly over the past 20 years. The workflow systems used have been adhoc developed based on legacy software from the Offset and Screen Print industries and whilst there is crossover in many areas, overall the solutions were not deemed ideal for a small-to-medium size wide format business.

Cole, Paul and Aaron had worked with each other in Wide Format adjacent projects for several years.

Aaron had been searching for a suitable MIS (Management Information System) for several years for his business and had investigated the top industry workflow solutions but wasn’t having any luck in finding a fit for requirement or budget.

These workflow systems were VERY expensive and were cumbersome in operation. It was possible to spend more time setting up a job in the system than it would producing the job on a machine.

In 2018, Cole, Paul and Aaron started the SPAA project with the intention of developing the best simplified wide format MIS system available.


Phase One - MVP for testing

  • Account (Hardcoded)
  • Workflow
    • Orders
    • Printing
    • Finishing
    • Dispatch
  • Utilities
    • Clients
    • Products
    • Job tickets
  • Remote + Local Hybrid
    • Desktop app (Hardcoded)
    • Cloud storage (Hardcoded)
  • Artwork management
    • Auto detect size
    • Auto file

Phase Two - Functional MLP

  • Account
  • Subscription
  • Wizard / Onboarding
  • Remote + Local Hybrid
    • Desktop app
    • Cloud storage
  • Dashboard
  • Artwork management
    • Manual entry
  • Brochure site

Phase Three

  • Workflow
    • Sales
    • Invoicing
    • Completed / Archived
  • Utilities
    • Team members
  • Features
    • Calendar
    • Order History
    • Internal Commenting
    • Assign Orders
  • Customer permissions
    • Accept quote directly

Roles + Resposibilities


  • Creative Director
  • Product Designer
  • Front-end Developer

Paul C

  • Back-end Developer
  • Hosting Infrustructure


  • Product Owner
  • Tester

Paul S (Contractor)

  • App Developer (Desktop)

Primary Beta Tester

Super Colour

Trade-only wide format print business


Target Market & Ideal Client

  • In the roughly $1.5-4m bracket of revenue
  • Have four or more employees
  • IT setup consisting of local storage
  • Have a RIP that can use hotfolders and workflows
  • Currently looking for an affordable MIS/workflow solution
  • One or two locations

User Problems

After a series of conversations with various print companies such as Big Picture, CMYK, Speedy Signs and Signwise including observations and immersions with Super Colour we discovered similar pain points throughout the industry. Some of the main points were:

  • Conflict between staff from different phases due to human errors
  • Handling orders with multiple parts and different products.
    • Single product
    • Multi products - same workflow path
    • Multi products - different workflow path
  • Handling multiple artwork sizes and multiple page files.
    • Single page file
    • Multi page file - same sizes
    • Multi page file - different sizes
  • Handling multiple artwork scales
  • Handling multiple shipping destinations and partial shipments
  • Typing out client details for every order - copy and pasting contact details
  • Repetitive orders and silimar products
  • Order status updates - Anserwing to emails + phone calls
  • File management - double handling
  • Constantly checking inbox
  • Existing systems
    • Setup costs usually require flying in specialist
    • Have many functions that aren't required therefore increasing price of solution
    • Unnecessary amount of clicks to achieve simple tasks
    • Adhoc developed from Offset and Screen Print industry not meeting Wide Format needs
    • Spend too long setting up an order
    • All details showing - not phase specific
    • 'Clunky'
    • Some businesses are forced to continue using Excel and hand written job sheets.


Problem Statement

Small-to-medium size Wide Format Print businesses are suffering growing pains due to workflow systems that are too expensive, convoluted and/or poorly adhoc developed from Offset and Screen Print software.

User Journey

Here we defined the workflow journey of an order. Although each wide format business has its unique systems in place the process is always split into well defined 'Phases'.

  • Sales
  • Orders
  • Printing
  • Finishing
  • Dispatching
  • Invoicing


How Might We Statements

  • HMW save time on file handling and file management
  • HMW encourage operations to use product presets
  • HMW eliminate common human errors
  • HMW improve the order setup experience
  • HMW create a seamless experience for local and remote users
  • HMW fast-track the client contact onboarding process


  • Automatic file management
    • Local Connectivity - automatically store files uploaded via spaa in a client folder in local storage.
    • Remote Connectivity - push files to cloud for production access
  • Automatic file dimension detection
  • Save client delivery addresses
  • Write and read only orders with specificity to phase - option to view all
  • Easy split order workflow
  • Auto-complete and pre-fill client details and products
  • Import, Add or Sync contacts with Xero and other accounting services
  • Drag and drop workflow for fast allocation
  • Order status - full + partial
  • Phase inbox indicator for unallocated orders
  • Modular + customisable within phase to tailor to business


Onboarding :


Workflow Phases :


Utilites :


File Management :



Order Management :

  • Phase - Built in (eg. Printing)
  • Division (eg. Method/Printer)
  • Section (eg. Type/Material)

Order Parts :

  • Order
  • Part
  • Product


Low Fidelity Mockups

File Handling :


Layouts :

Defining layout structure supports cognitive load issues and creates a sense of familiarity for easy user navigation within newly explored pages.


Visual Aspects



LHS Sidebar :


Body :


RHS Togglebar (Order) :


RHS Togglebar (Product) :


Date :


High Fidelity Mockups

Drag'n'drop Workflow :


Workflow - Printing Phase :



User Testing

We hard coded an instance of Spaa for Super Colour for Testing. This bypassed the onboarding but allowed the business to use the workflow system in a real world scenario.

Even before we completed Phase One we had Super Colour testing features and components such as Clients and Products and basic Workflow where they found that it was already better than their current system - Asana.

We regularly sent Loom videos of working copies to other Wide Format businesses interested in Spaa with the general consensus of when they could get their hands on the MIS solution.