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Commentary & Analysis

From MIS, JDF, CIP3 to I-COM (Part 3)

From MIS,

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: January 25, 2007

From MIS, JDF, CIP3 to I-COM (Part 3) By Terry Nagi January 25, 2007 -- In our past two articles (see Part 1 and Part 2), we have examined the advantages and reasoning for moving beyond a Web-to-Print system, to a full-blown I-COM (Internet Customer Order Management system. Web-to-Print is appropriate for printers offering digital printing. I-COM is appropriate now (and will be a requirement for customers in the near future) for all printers. In this article, and the next two articles following, we have interviewed three of the major providers of I-COM systems (some of whom also offer an MIS system). The objective is to provide a more learned response from the companies that actually provide MIS and/or I-COM solutions. We're starting off with Darryl Rouse, COO & VP Sales, of Pace Systems Group, Inc.; drouse@pace2020.com ODJ: What do you see as the prime attributes for a complete MIS and I-COM solution? DR: A complete MIS system should offer a web-based front end for web-to-print, finished goods, and job tracking and provide customers with an online experience that enables them to check the status of any job, place an order or request an estimate at their convenience, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For production, the MIS system must handle Estimating, Job management, Inventory, Purchasing, Data Collection, Job Costing, Scheduling, Job Shipments, and Change Orders, to maximize revenue and minimize costs associated with production inefficiencies. A complete MIS system should offer a web-based front end for web-to-print, finished goods, and job tracking and let customers check the status of jobs, place orders or request an estimate 24/7.A complete MIS system should offer a web-based front end for web-to-print, finished goods, and job tracking and let customers check the status of jobs, place orders or request an estimate 24/7. For accounting, an ideal accounting package offers a complete financial view of the organization in an integrated central location and includes Billing, Accounts Receivable, Credit and Collections management, Accounts Payable, General Ledger and Bank Reconciliation. For management, a dashboard that facilitates monitoring key metrics within the organization to find areas that need investigation or improvement. In addition, modules that allow for quick ad-hoc reporting are critical to manage the large amount of data generated with the fast turnaround manufacturing process in today's printing environment. A complete system also provides customizable options that allow for system modifications without making the MIS system an island that cannot be supported or upgraded. Some handy customizable options include user definable fields, forms, reports and integration with external systems. ODJ: What do you see as the ideal MIS and I-COM solution? DR: It should offer integration with industry leaders in web-to-print, digital asset management, workflow systems, and freight. For example, ePace has a FreightLink module that integrates with all the major freight providers, an API (application programming interface) to link to external systems, a way to integrate web-to-print companies like iWay, Printable, Responsive Solutions, and a JDF module to integrate with workflow, imposition and digital asset management systems. The format of the integration and optimization of the data really necessitates a web-based MIS system to maximize the value of the information by making it available anywhere, any time and on any device regardless of the operating system the company utilizes. If the company has a combined Windows and Mac environment, this is critical. ODJ: Where does your system fit in, and what can it do for the printer? DR: The ePace system was designed with the Internet as the key driver for an integrated MIS system and provides all the modules for a complete MIS system as described above. It also includes a turn-key implementation approach, which includes a server, a web-based interface, importing capabilities and a variety of training and implementation services to allow for an easy migration to ePace. The format of the integration and optimization of the data really necessitates a web-based MIS system to maximize the value of the information ODJ: What are the steps a printer should use to decide which, and the extent of the, MIS/I-COM system they should purchase? DR: For a review of the MIS systems available, a printer should consider which key areas in the company need improvement and then look at the systems that might fit those needs. Assessing company size, reputation and obtaining a demonstration of the system should be first steps in the evaluation process. Pricing should not be the key driver, as the soft costs associated with a new MIS and I-COM system far outweigh the actual procurement costs. Training and implementation of an MIS and I-COM system is like getting spinal cord replacement surgery --you can only have one, so it must be able to handle the current needs and offer reasonable expectations for handling things that may arise in the future. The newer the technology and design, the better it will likely fit a printer. The process of implementation, method of receiving the training initially and over the long term should be key factors in choosing a solution. Turnover or new hires should have an easy way to receive training from the supplier to maximize their effectiveness with the system. ODJ: Which roles in a printing company need training on MIS and I-COM and what sort of training would you recommend? DR: Proper training and a detailed implementation plan for an MIS and I-COM system are the key drivers to success. Our training and implementation process includes a combination of onsite, online, and CBT (Computer Based Training) training, along with an online University of Pace (UNP) that offers progress points and reinforcement. The CBTs and UNP also offer on-going re-training, updates and a way to keep customers informed about enhancements to the system. The printing company should identify a system administrator or team of people with a clear team leader who will be directly involved in the process early to ensure the company is prepared and follows through with the training and implementation plan to assure success. Pricing should not be the key driver, as the soft costs associated with a new MIS and I-COM system far outweigh the actual procurement costs. The implementation plan outlines the steps and milestones that must be accomplished so customers make the time and have the capacity to handle an implementation of a new MIS and I-COM system. ODJ: What training would you recommend for a printer's customers, and how does a printer do this? DR: Customer training is generally a combination of computer based, online and onsite activities, which can be provided by the supplier. This should be done in conjunction with the customer's onsite project leaders. We will continue to investigate and analyze the necessity and opportunity for building an I-COM system in a printer's organization in the coming issues of OnDemand Journal, including: 1. Two additional interviews with leading providers of I-COM programs about to how they work and why they are important to a printing company. 2. An additional two-part series featuring the real world experiences of printers implementing an I-COM system. 3. Finally, two reports detailing the major providers of I-COM solutions, what they provide and their position in the marketplace. Stay with us while we continue to investigate one of the major change agents in the printing industry. Please offer your feedback to Terry. He can be reached at: tanagi@aol.com

 

 

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