If you’re considering an MIS upgrade but you’re not completely sure if it’s the right time, then this article may be able to help. If you identify with any of the 5 key points below, then it might be time to make the leap and upgrade…
1. YOUR PRODUCT IS A LEGACY PRODUCT
A legacy product is one that is no longer under active development but has yet to be fully retired. This can happen because your provider is releasing a new version or product range, or because it has ceased trading or been bought by another company that intends to migrate customers on to its own products.
If your MIS is deemed a legacy product by your provider, there are some significant risks to your business that you seriously need to consider:
- The product will no longer be developed, so you won’t benefit from future improvements that could help you improve your business. Is there a new, more efficient way of creating estimates? A better way of accessing your KPI data from your MIS? With a legacy product, you wouldn’t benefit from any of these.
- The vendor will stop providing patches or other updates and so if there’s any bugs or other issues within the product, they won’t be fixed.
- The vendor has stopped supporting the product. This is a serious potential risk to a business because any failure in the software or hardware it runs on could have a big impact on the general operation of the business.
Legacy products can impact your business in other ways, too. It can mean you’re unable to upgrade your hardware platforms, operating systems and web portals due to incompatibility or untested compatibility. You may also be unable to upgrade your integrated software such as accounts packages or web-to-print systems.
Risk level = Medium to High
Suggested action = Upgrade to the latest version or replace, but do it quick!
2. YOUR MIS PARTNER IS FINANCIALLY UNSTABLE
Of course it’s essential that your MIS partner has the financial stability to survive a downturn in the economy. But it’s also crucial that they have the stability to fund a sustained programme of development for your MIS. If they don’t, your company will get left behind and you won’t be taking advantage of any future technological advancements in your sector.
Poor financial performance can also present a risk of the company merging or being purchased by a competitor, which could result in your software becoming a legacy product (see above).
Risk level = High
Suggested action = Credit check your MIS partner to assess financial stability. If there are any red flags, consider replacing your MIS or at least put a contingency plan in place to deal with the worst-case scenario.
3. YOU HAVE A POOR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR VENDOR
The initial relationship you have with your vendor, from purchase to going live, is critical. But so is your ongoing relationship - you need to feel happy with the support you receive after the implementation stage is over.
Here’s some questions you can ask yourself to assess the experience you’ve had with your vendor so far:
- Technical support:
- Is this phone, online or email based support? Are you happy with which it is?
- Are you able to deal with a technician in your geographical region?
- Are you able to make contact within agreed SLA or support charters?
- Are you happy with the technical ability and knowledge of the support team?
- Are software bugs logged and fixes released in a timely manner?
- Continued contact:
- Did the software vendor continue contact after implementation?
- Does your Account Manager make contact on a regular basis to check how you’re doing and tell you about any new products and services?
- Do you have the option for a system review to suggest new workflow procedures or efficiencies?
- Additional resources:
- Do you receive additional communications such as newsletters or webinars?
- Does the software vendor provide you with other resources such as articles, case studies, white papers and other multimedia content to help you use your software effectively?
Risk level = Low
Suggested action = If you’re not happy with any of the above, get in touch with your Account Manager and let them know! Give them a chance to fix any areas of dissatisfaction. If nothing changes, then you might need to consider replacing your supplier.
4. YOU'RE USING AN INCREASING AMOUNT OF OTHER SOFTWARE APPLICATIONS FOR YOUR BUSINESS
If you find that you’re using more and more different pieces of software to do various tasks in your business, then you should probably consider unifying these. The more unified a system is, the more efficient your workflow will be.
You’ll also have better communication throughout your teams and have more opportunities for automation. This situation tends to happen when your business has changed, and you therefore have different/additional needs to those when you first purchased your MIS.
Risk level = Low
Suggested action = Before you look elsewhere, check with your current MIS supplier first - there may be additional modules available that have the functionality you’re after. If not, you may have to replace your MIS with something more comprehensive or consider integration.
5. YOU WANT MORE INTEGRATION AND AUTOMATION
Every printing company knows the benefits of automation – it reduces touchpoints and allows you to produce jobs quicker and cheaper.
Your MIS is the core mechanism that will drive this, through the automation of admin and production tasks, and also through integrations with pre-press, press and post-press vendors. But things change, and the current version of your MIS may not support the latest advancements in this area.
An upgrade may be necessary to take advantage of the latest vendor integrations.
You also need to ensure that your MIS provider is open to integration with third parties. Some vendors may have a policy of only connecting to their own software and hardware solutions, which will significantly restrict your choice of pre-press, press and post-press devices. There is obviously a business risk to being limited to a single vendor solution – you will be unable to work with your preferred partners and select the best device or software product for you.
Risk level = Low to Medium
Suggested action = If you want to increase automation and your MIS doesn’t support the latest vendor integrations, then you need to upgrade it as soon as possible. And if you’re currently working with a vendor that isn’t open to third party integrations, then it may be time to move on.
IDENTIFIED WITH ANY OF THE ABOVE?
Your MIS should be providing you with a smart workflow that either reduces your operating costs, sustains your growth strategy or gives you a mixture of the two. It should provide meaningful and easy to interpret management information to assist in critical business decisions.
What we're trying to say here is that your MIS has a huge impact on your business. And you really need to be treating it like a significant piece of production equipment such as a new press. It’s that important.
So if you've identified with any of the above issues, it's time to sit down with your team and have a serious discussion about how to get things back on the right track.