Management Information Systems — A Hit with Printers

Advocating for the use of a computerized management information system can have the feel of preaching to the converted. The true believers have already invested the money and resources to implement a system, gotten staff buy-in, and they routinely act on the data collected.

There are less ardent converts, though, who have only implemented select components of an integrated MIS or are so focused on day-to-day operations that they can’t capitalize on the business information being gathered. There are also those shops not actively using an MIS solution for various reasons, a key one being the investment involved.

Today’s business demands are causing even the true believers to re-examine the role of MIS in a modern printing operation. As more shops get into digital printing, they need a management solution that is efficient and responsive enough to handle the order volumes, dollar amounts and quick turnaround requirements of the market segment.

Digital work is also a big driving force behind the adoption of Web-to-print, which is enhanced by MIS integration. Interfacing the systems provides the opportunity to capture job information upfront and augments customer service, by providing immediate reporting of job status and enabling online inventory management.

Growing Importance

The growing importance of MIS in digital printing environments was reflected in the two sessions devoted to the subject at the recent On Demand Conference. Also, a dozen or so solutions were demonstrated in the exhibit hall.

In one session, Paul Rothstein, CEO of Next Generation Printing (Nextgen) in Canton, MA, recounted how concern that the shop’s previous MIS package was no longer going to be supported by the vendor led him to seek a new solution. Another reason for making a change was customer interest in online ordering, he noted.

Expanding on his presentation in a follow-up interview, Rothstein says he sees the requirements for handling digital printing work as being basically the same as offset, but job processing needs to be very fast and as automated as possible. Since the dollar value of a digital order generally is a fraction of offset work, a printer will lose money if it spends as much time and effort process­ing the two types of jobs, he explains.

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