Whatever form it takes, a management information system should be the central data repository for your business.
Jennifer Matt’s company, Web2Print Experts, has helped many print service providers make the print MIS implementation process less painful. She says, “Lots of printers want to get it done right, but don’t have the resources to do it.” It’s hard to run a business while focusing on everything it takes to get an MIS program up and running; an implementation project requires detail-oriented, technical people who also understand business. “We bring in those resources to help with the transitions,” says Matt.
Web2Print Experts doesn’t sell any technology, but they are familiar with many different programs and how to integrate web-to-print software with print MIS programs. They often help clients figure out how to use under-utilized features and avoid expensive customizations. Some software vendors may try to convince you that the only way to solve your MIS implementation issues is to switch to their programs. In many cases, that may not be necessary and may simply introduce a different set of problems, says Matt: “It’s very expensive to kick one system out and bring in another.”
But it is also true that no MIS program is perfect. And different programs may actually be better-suited to specific segments of the printing industry. Most print MIS programs today are designed for big commercial printing firms that also want to produce complementary types of large-format graphics. Other MIS programs were developed by companies with in-depth knowledge of workflows for superwide- and grand-format printing, signmaking, apparel decoration, or package printing.
Recommendations for Implementation
Matt says the attitude of the printing business owner is the number-one factor for successful print MIS implementations. It’s not so much about the technology as the execution.
You need to start with a well-defined business strategy that has been clearly communicated to your employees. Your implementation plan should include sufficient resources and meaningful metrics to keep it on target. Your top leadership needs to stay involved throughout the process and encourage employees to really learn the system instead of simply being spoon-fed information during training. Your goal is to have your employees understand how to make the system work better than the vendors do.
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