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COMPUTER MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS -- Pain-free Installations

November 2001
BY CAROLINE MILLER


Implementing a new computer management system can sometimes feel like a reoccurring nightmare that leaves you feeling dazed, confused and just plain exhausted. But whether you are buying your first system, going through an upgrade or looking at a completely new system, there are several steps you can take to avoid waking up in a cold sweat.

"The ideal implementation includes smart people using smart technology that is supported by smart people," remarks Paul Grieco, president of Printers Software.

So what makes an implementation successful? Several computer management vendors recently discussed the "do's" and "don'ts" of software implementation with Printing Impressions.

At the very top of everyone's to "do" list is the need to assemble the right people within your company to lead the process of buying a system and overseeing its implementation.

Individuals at all levels of your printing operation need to be included in this decision-making process. Implementing a new system goes to the very core of how a graphic arts establishment works—every single department is going to be affected at some point by a new computer management system. It will require changing how work is processed through a plant, how employees do their jobs and how they interact with each other.

"If the users and department managers do not feel like they were part of that decision, it is very easy for them to consider the system 'your system' instead of 'our system,' " explains John Knowlton, executive director of marketing at PRIMAC Systems. "Someone has to make the ultimate decision, but involving the folks on the front line in defining what would help them do their jobs better, faster and easier goes a long way toward getting a system that serves the real needs of all departments."

Assign a Project Leader
While the input of many voices is important, a common mistake printers make is not assigning a project leader to the implementation team, adds Carol Andersen, CEO of Prism USA. "Without this person, implementations will often drift, training is forgotten and what should take three months to get up and running can often take six to nine months. The customer must be willing to assign a project manager who will 'own' the implementation," she says. "Often, the senior managers will leave all aspects of implementation decision-making up to team members. Without recognizable leadership, projects will not implement well."

And the words and actions used by upper management go a long way to setting the overall tone of the implementation. "There has to be a management commitment that 'yes, we are going to make this happen; everybody is going to get on-board with this project.' If you don't have that kind of a commitment plan, an install can drag on forever," remarks Denise Lunden, executive vice president of Software Marketing Associates.
 

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