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Excel, PDFs, Paper, and More People (automation-less)

We apply tools from our toolset to solve business challenges, often those tools create silos of data and processes inside our company that prevent us from becoming a truly data-driven organization.

By Jennifer Matt
Published: April 12, 2017


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Jennifer Matt is the managing editor of WhatTheyThink’s Print Software section as well as President of Web2Print Experts, Inc. a technology-independent print software consulting firm helping printers with web-to-print and print MIS solutions. You can reach her at jen@whattheythink.com.



By Jonathan Stuart on Apr 12, 2017

We will all have seen exactly the situation Jennifer describes. And when we ask the users "Why do have all these Excel models and paper records?" the answer is often "Because the MIS doesn't do X or Y, so I have to". Yet when we speak to the MIS provider, they say "Yes, of course it does X and Y. Has done so for years."

So what's going on? What is different about the few businesses where this does not happen? In my experience, the difference is in the ownership of businesses processes, and a culture of continuous improvement.

In so many businesses, the MIS is seen as a child of Finance or IT, with functionality fixed on the day it was installed. Whereas in effective businesses it's the users who own their system, and they are constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency and reduce manual steps.

I was struck when attended a presentation by Toyota. Under the Toyota Way, there were daily meetings of each team, reviewing their performance and looking for waste and inefficiency. If they needed system changes or a new report, they pushed to get it done - IT was a service to the users, a part of continuous improvement.

So I challenge everyone in our industry to turn the conventional structure on its head. Empower the process owners to initiate change. Set them the objective of eliminating data leakage and private document silos. They know where they are hidden!


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