In the second part of this blog series we examine how to find the right MIS for your company. After the pre-planning phase outlined in Implementing Print MIS #1, it is time to begin the task of interview software companies. Research the companies that are compatible with your requirements. Request demonstrations and have the key people in the process there to ask questions. Create a matrix of the the needs and wants established in your pre-planning sessions. This will provide a visual key for easy evaluation of which software companies match the wants and needs established.
1) How long has the company been in business?
A newer company should not automatically be discounted as they may offer a fresher perspective on handling business needs.
2) How many customers does the company serve? For how long?
It’s not just about the number of customers it is about how long they have worked with them. In the case of newer companies they may not have established as many clients. What is the growth plan for less established providers?
3) What experience does the company have with the industry?
Not having to explain the intricacies of your industry makes implementation easier, provided the company does not have many specialized processes.
4) How long is the typical implementation time?
It is important to understand how long it will take to implement and what resources are needed for a successful implementation.
5) How long is the training cycle? Is it onsite or online or both?
Establish who needs to be involved in the training. Typically the longer the training cycle the more complicated the software is to use.
6) What are the future growth plans of the company?
Technology changes from minute to minute how much time does the company spend on developing new product? How does it keep up with technology today?
7) Which clients in our industry can be contacted to discuss the software, service and performance?
Ask for contacts throughout an organization to confirm the software is working in all areas. What were some of the challenges they experienced during implementation. What are some of the unexpected benefits of the software? What do they wish the software had that it doesn’t currently offer?
8) Where is technical support located?
9) Is the information in the system real time and accessible via the internet, or phone apps?
10) What is the upgrade cycle of the software?
Upgrade cycles demonstrate the company’s commitment to continuously improving their product.
11) Is there an User’s Group or Customer Council?
Users Groups or Customer Councils are invaluable as they provide feedback for improvements as well as real world practical use of the program. Company sponsored User’s Groups also demonstrates a dedication to customers and their feedback.
12) What additional modules may need to be purchased?
Establish up front what additional costs or modules may be needed.
13) Can custom programming be done and what is the request process?
Define what determines custom programming is necessary. If custom programming is offered what is the cost and how is the implementation of the new programming handled?
14) What are the annual maintenance costs or licensing requirements?
Most MIS providers charge an annual maintenance fee or licensing, find out what that is before making a decision.
Finally, when you get down to your final 2-3 contenders, analyze the proposals. The decision should not be made solely on price alone. The decision should be made by what system offers the solution that best meets your needs. Selecting a new MIS is a labor intensive process but the rewards are well worth the investment.