One of the biggest challenges printers face when transitioning to a new Print MIS system is to pick a go-live date. Picking this magical date is a bit like gambling – you really don’t know for sure when the cards are going to line up the way you need them to. Pick something too soon and you risk being in a situation where you have to move back the date. Pick something too far out and you are likely just to stretch out the hard work you need to do anyways. The problem is you and your team are already busy 5+ days a week anyways, so dedicating the time to meet your go-live date is always a monumental challenge.
To navigate your go-live options, consider these possibilities/challenges:
1) Can you consider a phased approach? A phased approach lets you section off key elements and implement them exceptionally well rather than ‘starting everything and finishing nothing’. As an example, let’s say you have a Web-to-Print system that is not connected to your legacy Print MIS but you want to integrate it with your new system. This is not a critical go-live element. Why force it in to the first part of your go-live? You are manually entering those orders today and it’s working. Why not let those orders continue to be manually entered for a couple of months after your initial go live and deal with the integration after.
2) What bandwidth do the individual(s) you’ve tasked from your team have to actually work on the implementation? If the answer is ‘hardly any’ or ‘none’, you need to make some tough decisions. Can you bring in additional resources during the implementation so that your assigned folks can actually work on the Print MIS? Can you put your resources on ‘sabbatical’ a couple of days a week so they can be removed from the day-to-day operations/noise and work remotely to effectively tackle the Print MIS challenge?
3) How much do you want to implement your Print MIS ‘out-of-the box’ versus configuring it and setting it up to look and feel more like you? If you want it to be more tailored to your environment (i.e. reports, fields, forms etc.) it will take longer to implement than the standard timeframe recommended by the vendor. However, even though it takes longer, it will be well worth it in the end.
When picking a go-live date, don’t randomly circle a date on the calendar a few months down the road. Think it through, map out your approach, and then pick a date. If you do that, you will be much more likely to hit that date and be successful with your Print MIS go-live.