MIS: Upgrade or Replace?
Does it make sense to upgrade or replace your MIS?February 2013 By Mike Rottenborn, Hybrid Software
As we all try to make our businesses more efficient, one of the best ways to do so is to rely on the resources of a good MIS. An MIS can accomplish many things, from job quoting and costing through production planning, inventory management, materials ordering, sales order processing, financial accounting, and developing key management reports such as accounts payable and receivable, general ledger, and instant P&L statements. Many MIS are first optimized for the traditional business operations: estimating, scheduling, raw material ordering and tracking, and ultimately, for invoicing, billing, and accounting.
Most printing and prepress companies own and operate an MIS of some sort, but they can take many different forms. It's not unusual to see a larger company rely on an enterprise MIS. These are customized to handle business issues specific to printing. Many package printers own MIS that were developed, off the shelf, specifically for printing labels, packaging, and corrugated materials. A number of exceptional systems exist in the marketplace. Yet other companies have relied on home-grown systems developed from common applications, such as FileMaker Pro, Microsoft Access, and even Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. These systems may have been built to solve a specific problem and have grown over time to provide MIS functionality for a printer or prepress operation.
Today, if you do not have a seamlessly integrated, systems-driven workflow and MIS, it's only a matter of time before you start losing business to print providers that do. But business requirements, processes, workflows, and goods produced can change over time, and an MIS that was a perfect fit when it was purchased and installed may no longer support your business needs. However, replacing your current MIS is not always the best option. In this tough economy with increasingly intense competition, those who have the need to upgrade their systems would be wise to assess their existing capabilities and determine whether the expense (time and resources) and disruption of implementing a completely new MIS is worth the reward.
Getting an MIS to operate smoothly with other systems is important because margins are smaller, runs are shorter, and the ability to absorb prepress overhead costs based on the press run is tough. The slim margins of printing profitability can be quickly lost due to inefficiencies, waste, and mistakes. Since the value of work-in-process increases as the job progresses through manufacturing, analysis and control becomes even more critical during the final stages of a job. When all the business parts work in harmony, they can reap synergistic results.