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As print companies navigate shorter run lengths, faster turnaround times and streamlined production, most find that their processes are disorganized with many isolated pockets of information. This lack of information flow is one key barrier holding companies back from adapting to market changes and achieving next level profitability. To facilitate information flow, improve transparency and allow fact-based decision making, many companies are looking to update their legacy management information system (MIS) or introduce one for the first time. In this blog, we will focus on how and why you should evaluate your business and production processes when successfully selecting and implementing an MIS.
The selection and implementation of a fully integrated MIS is different from many other purchases in that it touches multiple areas of your business. It requires a new set of skills to evaluate your environment, understand your business processes and quantify what is needed. You can’t simply test drive an MIS like you can a new car, significant work must be done upfront so that you can ask the right questions and select the right partner. The successful execution of an MIS will allow you to make informed decisions based on data, driving your efficiency and profitability. Decisions can be made in real time without relying on historical information (which often arrives late or missing critical data).
How to start? Gather a Team
Assemble a team to evaluate the requirements of the MIS. You’ll want company leadership to be involved and motivated throughout the entire project from initiation through to the final installation. MIS is a powerful tool that will be used to run your business, and you’ll want to consider its emphasis at each point of the process. The system will touch all parts of the business, so it is important to have staff from each area included at every step. By excluding certain business areas, you could cause mistrust and a lack of buy-in — ultimately, causing issues and delays.
Time to Evaluate
During the evaluation, the team should look at current business and production workflows to identify your specific requirements and areas for development. By doing so, you increase the value obtainable from the MIS by pinpointing existing inefficiencies, redundancies and bottlenecks. Often times, there is the desire to replicate and/or integrate standing practices into the new MIS solution. However, this could result in implementing a system built on inefficient or irrelevant operations.
We’ve visited many facilities and asked customers why things were done a certain way. Most times, no one can give a reason other than “we’ve always done it like that.” While implementing an MIS with an existing workflow may make things faster, it will also quickly generate errors and create waste in materials, time or operations.
Do I need a customized system?
A common question is, “How much customization is needed to achieve my desired workflow?” Customization lets you develop a system that is unique to your current operation, equipment and processes, requiring custom programming or review for every upgrade or update. You’ll end up spending a lot of time and money to keep up with the latest developments, and when your system becomes stagnate, it will be too costly to update. In the end, customization typically takes away from your overall profitability as your business evolves.
Software is developed based on feedback from industry leaders and a combination of experience and best practices from countless installations. By embracing these practices and being willing to adapt your existing processes, you could better leverage the benefits of your MIS for your own profitability.
For example: In many cases, a quote is delivered or produced in a separate system because we prefer the “look” or “flexibility.” However, this adds time to the process. Most importantly, changes are not reflected back into the MIS — resulting in errors, incorrect quantities, rejected jobs and price concessions.
Develop a Plan
Work with your MIS partner to develop a strong project plan and roadmap for success. Provide your team with the support needed to succeed by allowing enough time for training or make additional resources available. Assuming that your staff is able to carry out the implementation while continuing their daily responsibilities could overrun both costs and schedule.
Embrace the Process
Consider the relationship with your supplier a partnership. There will be requirements on both sides to support a successful implementation plan. In nearly all cases, there will be speed bumps along the way. It is important to accept these challenges and react accordingly. When highly aggressive timelines are in place, the impact of the unknown could be significant. Having an understanding between you and your supplier will help ensure there is not a slip in the timeline.
With such a large scale installation, be sure to celebrate the success stories and milestones along the way to help maintain the team’s motivation and commitment.
By successfully implementing an MIS and optimizing processes, you will be able to truly utilize your business intelligence platform. This system will grow alongside your business while allowing evaluation (from a business and production perspective) and fact-based decision making that will both reduce costs and drive quality, efficiency and profitability.