Prior to joining Avanti, I spent my entire career working in the Printing industry. I have worked in Production, Operations and Account Management with the past 15 years being in the Large Format Digital segment.
The career change provided a new perspective, so to speak, and it occurred to me that Printing is a very reactionary business, and necessarily so. Managers and employees are constantly dealing with a steady stream of issues and tasks that need to be dealt with or completed immediately; rush estimates, rush jobs, client changes, late or lost shipments, presses down, etc. Typically a list forms and items are crossed off as completed, the faster the better. New items are added and prioritized and the process continues day in, day out.
The result, aside from stress and high blood-pressure, is a lack of planning. Or perhaps the cause is a lack of planning. Regardless, managers are too busy keeping the lights on to step back and properly manage their businesses. And I don’t mean this as a criticism. It is the nature of the business today and it is seemingly unavoidable when dealing with non-stop, often unreasonable deadlines in an oftentimes chaotic environment.
To make matters worse, it is also becoming more difficult to be profitable. The main reason for this is the growing downward pressure on pricing even while costs are increasing, resulting in reduced margins.
All of this to say that it is more important than ever to work as efficiently as possible, react quickly to demands and keep costs as low as possible.
Easier said than done, right? But there is a way.
Finding and using a Management Information System (MIS) that fits the specific business will help increase productivity throughout the shop, providing automation and allowing the core functions (Estimating, Order Entry, Scheduling, Purchasing, Invoicing) to be done faster and more accurately. This will free up time for managers to be able to actually plan and manage the business, rather than having the business manage them.
A good MIS will also provide the data required to make informed decisions regarding asset and investment allocation, where to focus improvement efforts and which markets to target through sales and marketing channels.