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Top 10 MIS features to consider

Jun 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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10. Overall software intelligence

The MIS solution should support your sales, service, planning, management and production teams with software intelligence designed to eliminate steps, improve accuracy, reduce waste and speed production. This should include, for example, smart estimating, planning, tracking, scheduling and analysis tools.

9. Industry experience and flexibility

Your MIS provider should have a strong and proven track record in the support and development of solutions designed for your business mix. And as your business grows, the solution provider and its solution must be flexible enough to address your needs.

8. Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) enabled

To grow profitability, the printing industry must leverage CIM, Direct Machine Interface (DMI), and industry standard communication protocols like JDF to maximize production and profit potential. Your Print MIS vendor must be a leader in the development, certification and implementation of these tools.

7. Centralized database with advanced reporting capability

Your MIS should support global access to a centralized database. All departments and personnel should have access to the information they require to perform at optimum levels. Isolated data sets or “islands of information” can act as profit consuming black holes.

6. Two-way real-time shop floor communication

It should support remote status/production inquiries, ensure the delivery of up-to-the-minute run lists to all work stations based on current priorities, and support accurate costing, invoicing, inventory and process/equipment analysis. It should support a streamlined, two-way communication process and — where logical — employ integrated manufacturing processes (CIM).

5. Support for seamless management/production workflow

A seamless workflow can eliminate virtually hundreds of costly touch points, transposition and communication errors, non-chargeable rework, spoilage, and — most importantly — the loss of client good will and future revenue opportunities.

4. Intelligent, integrated, dynamic scheduling functionality

This process must include planning that can automate the introduction of new jobs into the production process, building a schedule based on priorities, job characteristics and existing load. Likewise, this system must be able to respond in real time to management and production situations, identifying weak links and costly bottlenecks before they impact productivity and profitability.

3. Internet integration

E-commerce capability should offer a branded site capability for buying organizations, the ability to process ad-hoc and catalog-based transactions, support for variable-data printing (VDP), the ability to submit job requests, orders and re-orders online, the ability to submit and review files, and the ability to manage invoices and payments (improving cash flow). Most importantly, the ecommerce solution must be integrated to your MIS.

2. Credible support, quality assurance and development network

An implementation, training and ongoing support system capable of assisting your business in the go-live process, day-to-day use, and long-term operation of your MIS system is critical. MIS vendors with inadequate, limited support and development staffs can severely handicap your organization and its MIS investment.

1. An MIS investment that will grow with your business

Look for a system that adapts to the specializations of your business, with the infrastructure necessary to keep pace as your business grows and explores new niches and new revenue opportunities. With an MIS, you are investing in a relationship, not just a version — your MIS will impact every person in your organization for many years.

Gerald Walsh is director of market development, Advanced Professional Print Software, EFI. Contact him at