Whatever form it takes, a management information system should be the central data repository for your business.
In The Automation Issue, we present a collection of expert essays on an important topic in the industry today. Here, Eileen Fritsch discusses MIS automation.
Once upon a time, a certain print company was able to triple its business after implementing a management information system (MIS) and integrating all of its web-to-print storefronts. The investment transformed the business. For one thing, the automation calmed the chaos associated with manually processing orders for fast-turnaround, shorter-run jobs. Harried customer service employees were no longer unconsciously giving customers the impression the company just couldn’t handle any more orders. By fully relying on their MIS, the shop ran more smoothly and its leadership team was able to devote more time to thinking strategically about the future of the business.
This example, a client of consultant Jennifer Matt of Web2Print Experts, is proof that some MIS implementation stories do have happy endings. Unfortunately, many MIS adoption projects turn into horror stories. Some take more than two years to get up and running; others are never fully implemented at all. Some MIS features go unutilized because they don’t fit with the printer’s existing workflow. Many companies get frustrated and start gathering and analyzing job data manually. Or they decide the software was never a good fit for their workplace before really making an effort to learn how to use all the features. These fears have given automated data a bad name.
This is unfortunate, because a properly implemented MIS will give you all of the data you need to make informed decisions about every aspect of your business. It will give you a competitive edge by enabling you to move faster than your competitors. “You know when you can go up or down in your pricing,” Matt explains, “because you are confident in your cost calculations and your percentage of utilization.” And you’ll even be able to quickly and accurately answer the question that haunts many print shop owners: “Did we make money on that job that just shipped?”
The Evolution of MIS
MIS programs have been around for decades. They became more practical in the 1980s when networked PCs made it possible to gather data from multiple points in a workplace. Early MIS systems helped large manufacturing companies manage the complexities of “just-in-time” automated manufacturing.
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