One of our customers recently pointed out in their blog that, whilst the heart of their printing company was their people, their MIS was its brain. The article went on to point out that a successful MIS project goes beyond the software – making sure the people who will be using it are fully prepared is just as important.
We couldn’t agree more and that’s why we wanted to contribute our own advice on what to expect from an MIS.
Whether you’re about to embark on a brand new implementation or are migrating to a new system, it might help to read our top 10 misconceptions about MIS and what to watch out for.
1. An MIS installation should be quick and easy
Bringing in a new MIS is neither quick nor easy; it isn’t a plug-and-play solution. Don’t invest in one if you believe that the MIS will be fully operational within 2 weeks! Companies need to invest time, effort and capital to get it working.
2. I can mold my MIS to how I want to work
One of the biggest regrets that some of our customers have when reflecting on an installation is that they tried to bend the system to fit a previous way of working.
There’s a core workflow that connects the modules throughout the system, so if you try to cheat it you’ll almost certainly suffer the consequences somewhere along the line. To quote one of our customers: “If you see something in your way, then try to get over it because if you try to get past by bending it, it will spring back and hit the person behind”.
3. An MIS will make everyone’s lives easier
Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case. Companies don’t implement a new MIS to give everyone more free time or to lessen the amount of skills and experience their staff need; they implement a new MIS because they want to be better, quicker and smarter. They want to improve how they’re doing things now and improve on how their competitors do things. They want to give better and faster customer service and to reduce repetitive admin tasks so their team can work on more important things. They want to improve audit trails so they can achieve quality standards, and they want to do cool things with new technology. Better? Yes. Easier? Not necessarily.
4. The MIS will come pre-built with all the functionality and workflows that I need
Every company is different and every workflow is unique, so no MIS can be pre-built before installation. Before the implementation phase can even begin, the MIS provider will send in technical consultant to:
- Understand the company’s costing methods that will be used,
- Determine labor and equipment costs, as well as the overhead component that needs to be considered,
- Have a basic vision of what workflow the company wants to establish in the company, particularly if there’s no MIS currently in use,
- Assess any software development that will need to be carried out prior to installation.
5. A new MIS can just pick up where an old MIS leaves off
Swapping out one MIS for another is never a seamless process. The MIS is at the core of every company and in many cases it integrates with your other key software and hardware; swapping it out is bound to have an impact on the day-to-day running of your company. So it’s important that you still prepare for this type of implementation – whether it’s a replacement project or a new installation, preparation is still key to success.
Tip: You might want to consider running your old MIS and your new MIS in tandem for a while – take your new software through the implementation and testing phase and make sure it’s all working as you want it to before switching over.
6. The MIS team will do the work
This is the number one issue on implementation projects. Customers expect project costs to be as low as possible, so MIS providers generally tend to estimate the required number of consultancy days based on the assumption that all relevant staff members will be available to help, as and when required. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and the success of the project is significantly reduced when people are required to break away to deal with customer/production issues.
Tip: Arrange full cover for all staff members on the days that they’re required for training or system setup.
7. Data will be 100% pre-populated prior to use
The second biggest issue we get from customers post-implementation is the lack of available data when the consultant first turns up on site. There’s a large amount of information required during the initial setup phase and the success of the project is dependent on this being complete and accurate.
8. I can just use industry-standard data in my MIS
It’s important to point out that there aren’t any industry standards that your MIS provider can use instead of your own data. Whilst they may know the rated speeds of the most popular presses etc, the actual run speeds achieved by different companies are always different. So if you want your MIS to perform correctly, you’ll need to measure and report your own data.
Hourly cost rates are the biggest challenge and there really are no guide figures for these either. In basic terms, the sum of the hourly rates for each machine multiplied by their average annual utilisation should equal your rent / rates / leases / bills / power / office wages / depreciation and so on. Hopefully you can understand why MIS providers don’t advise on these.
Tip: Many MIS providers have a software tool that you can use to calculate your cost rates.
9. The MIS will automatically suggest the best production solution every time
Whilst this may be true in a general sense, some industry knowledge is still required. The estimating functionality at Tharstern, for example, will present a list of solutions based on things like best price, best Value Added or best contribution. But it still requires an understanding of what each of these mean and when to select them.
10. The MIS will work exactly as required
Don’t expect your MIS to work exactly how you want it to. Our consultants regularly come across the belief that every possible solution is written into the software and it’s an often repeated comment that a process/service/operation “must have come up before” in exactly the way the customer wants it to work. Printing companies really are all different and every production workflow really is unique.
Tip: Accept that some of the things you do may not be as common as you think and be prepared to amend processes to fit in with the MIS (which will, after all, have been written with best practice in mind).
How to avoid these 10 misconceptions in your MIS project
If you’re about to embark on an MIS project in your company, it might be a good idea to get your working team together and use each of the above points as discussion topics, talking through each one and making sure you’re being realistic in your objectives.
If you want even more implementation advice, you can also check out this 4 step guide to MIS migration.