Management Information Systems — A Hit with Printers
Module by Module
About three years ago, the printer signed a deal for a complete MIS solution from Avanti Computer Systems, but stipulated that it would acquire and implement the various modules in stages, Mandarino says. “Doing it all at once is too hard, with so many changes and so many people involved. We bought the estimating system first and waited a good year before next adding the accounting module. We still have two modules left to go.”
C.J. Graphics’ main business is comprised of five separate operations, and it has a sales office in Miami. It also has partial ownership of two companies located in another facility in Toronto. The combined organization has roughly 80 full-time and 20 part-time employees.
Mandarino believes a critical step was having one person take control of the implementation process and be the point person that everyone could go to. “We thought about using an IT person, but it didn’t work. We ended up having our general manager fill that role, and he assembled a support team that included somebody from estimating, IT and accounting. You can’t just plug it (a new MIS) in and have it work out of the box.”
That aspect of implementing a system can be challenging, particularly for a smaller company, notes the company exec. “Everybody thinks it’s the software cost. The true investment will be double the software cost because of all the man hours and time involved in getting an MIS implemented.”
The topic of JDF elicits a wry laugh, even from Mandarino, but he believes the process integration promised by broad implementation of the specification will happen down the road. He wants the company to be ready.
C.J. Graphics is already sending job information from its Avanti system to prepress and press. Its president sees bigger benefits coming from being able to pass data to the bindery for job setup, but that’s on hold until the shop adds new equipment. The company is currently using shop floor data collection to report information, such as machine and operator time, back to the MIS.