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Q&P Business Tips #1 – How relevant are your business processes/practices?

Monday, 17 April 2006
By Print21

While increasingly management have clear ‘company-focused’ expectations of the benefits of implementing an integrated Management Information System (MIS), this is rarely expressed in changes to basic business practices, according to Judy Bell (pictured).

Over the past 15 years I have seen a very significant attitude change to the expected benefits of MIS to the average printing company. Management have come to understand that the provision of timely and accurate information is essential for the success and development of the business.

However the path to achieving those benefits, through use of the ‘best practice’ capabilities of the software and revised business practices, has largely been ignored. There is little benefit in installing or upgrading new systems and equipment if the operational culture of the enterprise largely ignores the extra strengths it provides. From my experience a willingness to implement new relevant procedures is key to the successful implementation of any new system.

As a first step all engaged staff must be made aware of what management expects to gain from the implementation of its new acquisition – be it a new press, finishing equipment, CTP or MIS. Importantly current operating practices must be reviewed in the light of the new investment to make sure they are still relevant to the changed situation.

It has surprised me that while many companies have an expectation, and rightly so, of timely and comprehensive reporting following implementation of a MIS, this is often not translated into ensuring that data entered is configured to achieve the desired outcomes.

One of the first encountered practices in any MIS implementation is defining the policy of how customer information is to be entered into the software. This includes basic details; how customer codes are to be determined, whether company names and addresses are entered in upper/lower/title case, how individual contact codes, name and details are to be entered, how STD phone codes are included, etcetera.

If this policy does exist it must be reviewed against the new software and revised if required. If there is no company policy in this area – as in over 85% of companies – this should be established as a written policy before training on the software is started and all relevant staff should have a copy. I would also suggest it be part of the information kit for relevant new employees.

As an example of the relevance of the method of such data entry, imagine the frustration for the marketing team, and therefore management, when they wish to use the software capability of Group Email to send out an email to existing clients, only to find out that over half the contact first names (salutation) have been entered fully in upper case.

Daily processes, such as Converting Quotes to Jobs, Closing off Despatched Jobs and Invoicing are just some other examples where there should be short written processes to ensure that relevant fields for later reporting are not ‘skipped over’ because the employee was not aware why they were important.

Quote & Print trainers have the skills, and resources in the way of sample processes and flow charts to assist in the development or revision of business processes. The successful implementation of proper entry processes early in the piece will do much to increase the utility and the ROI of your MIS.

This article was brought to you by Quote & Print

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