Drivers for Management Information System Adoption

Current marketplace influences on software justification



Greg Cholmondeley


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After years of following COVID protocols, people are resuming social activities, businesses are reopening, and conferences and other events are restarting. At first glance, none of this seems to directly impact decisions to acquire or replace a print management information system (MIS) and a job submission system. After all, commercial print services providers (PSPs) and in-plants have always needed purchasing, pricing, billing, fulfillment, and business analytics tools provided by MIS solutions. However, due to current global events, our new business environment is shifting investment priorities, justifications, and timing—creating new challenges and opportunities.


Supply Chain Disruptions Don’t Just Impact Chips

Businesses and consumers have increasingly embraced the concepts of just-in-time manufacturing and on-demand printing, as evidenced by increasing numbers of smaller orders with ever-shrinking delivery times. Supply chain uncertainties impact this model for all manufacturers. PSPs grapple with parts, supplies, and equipment availability like other manufacturers, but the more significant impact of these disruptions is a likely increase in even shorter run lengths. PSP customers need to respond quicker than ever to business opportunities and constraints, which will drive more immediacy and targeted solutions. Therefore, expect more ordering variability while those impossible service level agreements (SLAs) tighten even further.


Rapid Pricing Fluctuations Make Quotes and Estimates Challenging

The United States Postal Service (USPS) says that their rates will change twice a year due to the current economy. In addition, media prices and availability fluctuate on what seems to be a daily basis. Traditional price change communications to sales teams via e-mail, written price sheets, or spreadsheets are no longer effective. Besides being time-consuming and labor-intensive, these practices make consistent job-estimating difficult.


Using up-to-date pricing information, consistent estimation processes, and being able to compare prior orders is more important than ever. However, given that price changes rarely decrease, and that printing is a highly competitive business, using pricing even one day out of date can make a job unprofitable. You will need to provide reasons for price increases for your customers to accept any changes.


Staff Compensation, Needs, and Competition Have Shifted

People are demanding higher salaries and more flexible working conditions. They are also willing to switch companies to achieve these goals. This situation exacerbates historic labor challenges within the printing industry, which has an aging workforce, specialized skill requirements, and tight profit margins. Many long-term employees have left while PSPs struggle to attract younger workers into their shops. In addition, today's workers have new expectations regarding working conditions, technology, and remote work.


Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics


Print Providers Have Reprioritized Needs & Opportunities

The needs of PSPs and the benefits of MIS solutions haven’t changed as much as their prioritization and urgency. Even though contemporary print MIS solutions like Avanti Slingshot can help ease many of the challenges PSPs face, Keypoint Intelligence’s research indicates that 31% of PSPs in Western Europe and 37% of PSPs in North America do not use commercial print MIS solutions. Considering this data, these companies are at a severe disadvantage against their competition.

  • Pandemic lockdowns and remote access have taught the general population how to utilize online tools and have shifted customer expectations. People are comfortable ordering online and now prefer not to meet face-to-face to place orders.
    • e-Commerce sites and MIS report that PSPs who can satisfy these desires without adding high reporting labor costs often become preferred suppliers while getting more jobs into automated workflows.
  • Keeping track of jobs as well as identifying bottlenecks and issues has become essential in meeting SLAs, especially in short-staffed shops. A robust MIS can help ensure consistency, awareness, and seamless operation and reduce the need for staff to scramble to handle the work.
  • Ensuring that all customer service representatives (CSRs) and salespeople generate quotes using consistent and up-to-date pricing in a world where mailing and paper costs change often and unpredictably is critical. A good MIS solution can avoid those issues while providing clear documentation when explaining why a repeat job's price has increased.
  • The plethora of variables in play requires an MIS to track and analyze wins and losses and provide tools to help business owners determine how to alter approaches.
  • Savvy PSP owners realize that using software solutions like an MIS to handle labor-intensive tasks such as billing, invoicing, and inventory management is an alternative to filling positions and frees up staff to focus on tasks involving human creativity and intellect.
  • Attracting younger workers is essential to a company’s success, but they do not want to work in an antiquated workplace. Implementing an MIS based upon industry best practices will streamline your operation, providing an environment attractive to the next generation of workers.


Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

The reasons and justifications for in-plants and commercial printers implementing commercial print MIS solutions have not changed much over the past decade. However, the necessity and urgency of doing so have dramatically shifted.


Contemporary commercial MIS solutions have evolved based upon industry best practices in estimating, accounting, inventory management, business analytics, and workflow automation over the past 30 years. As a result, the current industry pressures are unprecedented and apply equally to all PSPs regardless of size, geography, or specialization. In addition, with more MIS solutions becoming available in the cloud as software as service (SaaS) offerings, much of the investment can be made from operating budgets rather than as capital investments.


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