8 Steps to Choose the Best Print MIS Solution

Duncan Ellis | March 24, 2023

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Choosing the best print MIS solution for your print business or in-plant needs is a complex process. You’re making a commitment that’s designed to last 10 years or longer—and ideally, one that will transform your capabilities and redefine what’s possible in terms of capacity and accuracy while scaling with your business growth.

A truly integrated print MIS touches every facet of your print business. Pick the right one, and you’ll take your print business to a new level of efficiency and profitability. But make the wrong choice, and you’ve paid a lot of money for something that maintains the status quo—or worse.

To help you work through this process and clearly identify the best print management software for your unique needs, we’re sharing these 8 steps for choosing the best print MIS solution. 

  1. Understand Your Print Shop Needs
  2. Define Your Goals
  3. Build an Evaluation Team with a Plan
  4. Determine Your Budget
  5. Prioritize and Verify Essential Capabilities
  6. Scope Your Software Integration Needs
  7. Evaluate The Implementation Process
  8. Select a Vendor Partner

Let’s look at each of these steps—and why a truly unified print MIS like Avanti Slingshot™ Print MIS is the winning choice.

1. Understand Your Print Shop Needs

Before launching into the research or even the buying process, start by inventorying your organization’s needs. Don’t just upgrade for the sake of upgrading: upgrade to solve specific business process challenges.

Start by identifying your current state. Are you using print MIS software? Is your system unified or piecemeal? What do you already know is awkward, time-consuming, or error-prone? Do you have little “islands of automation” with manual processes in between?

As you work to understand your needs, be aware that your current processes and workflows may not be ironclad. Sometimes they are part of the problem rather than something that better software will solve.

2. Define Your Goals

With a solid understanding of your needs, you’re ready to create a list of your desired results and the objectives that will show you’re on track to reach those results. (Some project management types might recognize this as the OKR model.)

Put simply, what do you want to improve in your print business? Get specific here: larger capacity or higher profit margins are meaningful goals only when put into a context. Where is your capacity now? Where do you want it to be when you finish switching MIS solutions? What about in 5 years? 10 years?

Once you’ve determined your objectives, set key results showing progress toward the goal. For example, you might measure capacity growth by reducing manual touchpoints by a certain percentage or by increasing throughput by a certain number of jobs.

Once you know what you need, where you want to be, and how you’ll know you’re getting there, you’re ready to move to step three.

3. Build an Evaluation Team with a Plan

An integrated print MIS is a big investment that touches every aspect of your business. So don’t go into it alone when evaluating print management software: build an evaluation team instead.

At a minimum, your evaluation team should include:

  • Project manager
  • Systems administrator (the person running the MIS solution)
  • Operations manager (who can speak to production and delivery)
  • Finance lead (who can ensure any critical requirements are understood and documented)
  • Customer service manager (who can manage and understand the CRM system, customer interaction, job management and so on)

Depending on the size of your business, these roles may include more than one person. As an extended team less involved but still included, you’ll also want an IT representative, an executive rep, and people representing specific impacted departments.

Gathering input from a diverse group like this is an investment on its own. Your evaluation team must also have a plan to keep the decision process moving forward without gaps. Without the team or the plan working together, you could miss out on key functionality input and end up with MIS solutions that don’t solve everyone’s problems.

4. Determine Your Budget

All print MIS solutions worth using will be an investment, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you can spend and the costs you’ll incur equally.

Most printers budget about 2% of revenue for software and implementation services, so that can be a place to start in your budgeting estimates. 

Be sure to account for all relevant costs, including the cost of the software, the cost of support and implementation, infrastructure, training, and even the disruption you’ll incur while implementing the system. Note also that the various MIS solutions will create differing costs in all these categories, making comparisons difficult. That’s why the top-line inclusive budget is key.

5. Prioritize and Verify Essential Capabilities

Next, create a priority list using the goals and evaluation information made during steps 1-3.

  • Start with the essentials: what core functions must you have in your print MIS?
  • Then list out features that would add value or enhance your business but that you might not need (or be able to use) immediately.
  • Last, list out the elements you anticipate needing as you grow and evolve.

With priorities in hand, the real work begins by verifying all those vendor claims. Sales claims are easy to make but harder to demonstrate, especially with all-encompassing software solutions like these. If a vendor cannot take the time to show you exactly how your prioritized needs will be met, consider that a red flag.

At Avanti, we take this verification seriously. That’s why our demo isn’t a canned video: it’s a customized live demo using real-time data from your business.

Request your live demo now

6.  Scope Your Software Integration Needs

A print MIS that cannot talk to your other systems and software is rarely worth the investment. So next up is scoping your software integration needs.

What systems and software do you expect to continue using with the new print MIS? Vendors can quickly answer integration questions for you, but there’s something else to consider here. 

The vastly expanded capabilities of a truly unified print MIS may change your integration landscape. One integrated solution could replace numerous standalone “islands of automation” even as it integrates with other products you prefer to keep. Factor this into your budget as well.

7. Evaluate the Implementation Process

Every vendor will have its own implementation process and timeline, and as you talk with vendors, you’ll find a wide variety of approaches to implementation and even ongoing support.

Communicate with each potential vendor to discover their proposed implementation timeline—and make sure to ask how they will onboard your team to the new systems and processes required by the switch.

Avoid any vendor that doesn’t have a satisfactory answer on ongoing support, too: while the best print MIS solutions are intuitive once learned, truly integrated solutions take time to learn well.

8. Select a Vendor Partner

All that’s left is selecting the right vendor partner—one that understands your market focus and has the tools you need to solve your print workflow and automation challenges.

Avanti Slingshot is a truly integrated print MIS that can meet your needs and exceed what you thought possible regarding workflow automation. 

Get Started Today with a Customized Demo

Ready to experience Avanti Slingshot for yourself? We’re ready to show you exactly how we’ll exceed what you thought possible. We’ll create a custom demo using your business data so you can see precisely what business with Avanti Slingshot would be like.

Request your customized demo

Want to go deeper? Our free eBook, How to Buy a Print MIS: Best Practices in Making an Intelligent MIS Purchase Decision, dives into greater detail on these 8 steps, showing you exactly how to work through the process of choosing the best print MIS for your organization.

Get the eBook now: https://avantisystems.com/how-to-buy-a-print-mis-ebook/