How to Get the Most Out of Your Management Information System (MIS)


The bottom line is that MIS should be considered as a living entity that requires “care and feeding.” It needs at least one dedicated operator to keep it in tip-top shape, but of course, it is always good to have one or more backups that thoroughly understand the system in case the primary operator retires or otherwise leaves the business.

As always, when selecting a software solution, ask to speak to customers who are using the solution. Get their honest feedback on the pros and cons. This will help you make a more informed decision.

At HiFlow, our experts stand ready to get you on the road to a more efficient and profitable future. If you are considering acquiring an MIS or replacing an older one, we’ll give you honest feedback on the best path forward after analyzing your current situation.

If you are like most printing and packaging businesses, you likely have some form of Management Information System (MIS) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution in place to help you manage your business. But are you getting the most out of your investment?

Implementing an MIS is not trivial, but it is probably one of the most important things you can do for your business. It’s critical to keep in mind, however, that implementing a system like this is not one-and-done. You may heave a sigh of relief when your system goes live, but it’s also imperative to assign dedicated resource(s) to keep the system up to date. For example, your pricing model will likely change as costs of goods change, and to ensure continued profitability, those changes need to be immediately incorporated in order to generate accurate quotes and estimates.

Have you added a new piece of equipment? Is that reflected in your MIS? Or have you removed a piece of equipment?

How about staffing?

Be sure to keep that up to date as well. With a robust MIS, you will be able to generate reports or see live on dashboards or large screens around the shop how each production employee – and the equipment they manage – is performing.

This gives you insight into where more training might be needed, whether additional equipment maintenance is in order, or perhaps additional staffing or equipment is required to handle new clients, new applications, and more.

A good MIS also includes a CRM (customer relationship management) component or is tightly integrated with something like Sales Force. The same goes with accounting. Many businesses prefer to use an accounting system they already have in place and trust, so your MIS should integrate with that as well – including automated bi-directional updating of all relevant information.

Another aspect to consider, especially in the packaging industry, is that an MIS specialized for the needs of the packaging industry can augment an already-existing system such as SAP, which is not designed for the packaging industry. There are solutions in the market that fit this bill.

Another consideration is whether your MIS can effectively connect to your customers’ ERP systems, such as Oracle or SAP, or with other mission critical solutions from companies like ESKO. These types of integrations can streamline communications with your customers and automatically and bi-directionally transfer information that is critical to maintaining successful customer relationships. It can simplify such things as order entry, requests for reprints, access to the customer for status updates, management of digital and physical assets, and more. Have you spoken to your customers about this capability? If they are not already taking advantage of this type of integration, and once they understand the value, they are very likely to not only take advantage of it, but see you as a preferred provider who is more of a partner and thought leader than simply a vendor.

Inventory supply chain and courier service management is another key area. The last thing you want to do is run out of materials in the middle of an important job or have to double enter courier information to get product out the door, which can be quite error-prone.

HiFlow IMP

By integrating a shop floor data collection module with your inventory module, you can automatically decrement and/or increment inventory levels, with automatic reordering taking place as appropriate.

By including a supply chain module, you can monitor activities across the supply chain, including when materials might be received, whether significant price increases are in store, etc. And, of course, an effective courier management module not only automates all the paperwork required to get product out the door, but it helps you quickly choose the best shipping method for your project and makes shipment tracking readily available to you and your customer.

Looking for a Partner?

These are just a few aspects to consider. Is your current MIS up to the challenge? Do you have dedicated staff whose responsibility is keeping the system updated? Do you have an on-premises solution you would like to move to the cloud? And most importantly, is your MIS itself outdated? There have been many significant technological changes in the world of MIS.

If your solution has not kept up with the latest capabilities, perhaps it is time to make a change.

That means looking for a partner that:

» Will take the time to evaluate your current situation and make unbiased recommendations, even if the recommendation is that no changes are needed.

» Is available to quickly, frankly and honestly answer all your questions about an MIS update.

» Will be your partner not only in implementation, but beyond, as issues arise and new capabilities become available, in a proactive and supportive manner.

» Is flexible and supportive in helping you customize your system as needs and requirements change.

» Offers a scalable system that can grow with your business, future-proofing your investment.

» Allows customization of dashboards, reports, data fields, etc., to make the MIS yours, and make it easier to have the information you need at your fingertips.

» Offers exceptional training for your staff, during implementation and in an ongoing fashion. For example, HiFlow records all training sessions and places them in a secure video library that can easily be accessed by your staff if someone needs to refresh their knowledge or to more quickly bring a new employee on board.

» Makes it easy to integrate with third-party systems. No one can be everything to everyone, and it is important to have the flexibility to bring in additional capabilities through integration with third-party solutions.

» Offers a modular approach. When buying an MIS, do you have to purchase the entire solution even though there are components you won’t be using? Or can you start with basic modules and add on as needed?

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