The industry is changing in a fundamental way, and it’s not changing back. So don’t blame the internet or stupid competitors.
Mal had selected a new MIS system, biting the bullet on the cost, and hoping it would streamline the way things were done in his company.
But the system proved to be a big disappointment. It didn’t make order entry much easier, it didn’t help scheduling at all, billing and financial statements were just as slow, and he couldn’t even get the management reports he wanted – at least not in formats he could read.
We found the problem wasn’t with the MIS system at all. It was in the implementation. Mal hadn’t made clear to his staff how he envisioned the system being used to streamline certain operations. The staff members responsible for the implementation were also unclear as to what he needed in managerial reporting. As a result, they didn’t fully appreciate some of the choices they had to make. They were also in a hurry to make progress, and hadn’t coordinated processes with a range of users, which led to poor reporting practices and a lot of inaccurate data.
We revisited the entire system implementation – starting with Mal – getting him to outline his overall expectations and the analytical reporting he needed. We also spoke with users throughout the company, ensuring the company understood their needs and they understood the potential benefits of the new system.
Re-implementing the system took some time and some backward steps, but the payoff was huge, as order processing was simplified, estimating made easier and scheduling improved immensely.
It took a few months to find all the problems, and a few more months to fix them. Three administrative jobs were eliminated, turnaround time was reduced more than a day, and overtime was reduced substantially. On-time deliveries became easier to achieve, customer satisfaction improved and salespeople could sell enthusiastically, confident that schedules would be met. The payoff on the new MIS system proved to be even larger than Mal had planned.