July 18, 2019 | Daywey Chen

In the old days, paper and pen is how it’s done. However, as the amount of information increase and as the job tasks become more complex, it is crucial to introduce information systems into the company to leverage the efficiency and the accuracy of the company operation. This is especially true in the printing and packaging industry where job runs are becoming shorter, expedite shipment requests are increasing, and the amount of information that can be collected from the production floor are dramatically increasing. Another common issue that is found across the printing and packaging industry is the lack of talent. It is becoming harder and harder to find good talent. Therefore, it is strategically important to decrease the amount of people dependency. System needs to be introduced to record daily operational information to help the staff make good decisions. At the same time providing data for future analysis and for future improvements. Some joke that the ultimate goal is to have a “monkey” to be operationally capable.

There are many software system companies out there for production planning. Where should you start? What to look for?


Does the software capability match your requirement?

Are there too many functions from the software or are there insufficient amount of functions? Too less function means that the software is incapable to meet your company’s need. However, too much function is not good either. Too much function can introduce unnecessary complication that leads to operation errors. Too much function can also mean that your company is overpaying for what is required. Nowadays, most often software is modularized by its functions. This means that you only need to pay for what you need. As your company grows and as your needs increase, you can then add the different modules into your company one at a time.


Will the new software be able to integrate with your existing system?

Chances are you already have a few existing systems at your company, for instance, your ERP system or your CRM system. Will the new software be able to integrate with these existing systems? Will the software be able to integrate with your existing machines? You may even already have an existing production system or (MRP) system. How you are going to migrate the existing data over to the new system? Will the new software provide supporting tools to help make the data migration easier? Believe me, data migration is no easy task!


Is the software visually and operationally user-friendly?

Is the software user-friendly? When your staff interacts with the software, is it easy for them to learn or does it take a great effort? On a daily basis, is it easy to input and output data information from the software? For instance, the badly designed user interface/user workflow software needs much longer input and output time when compared to the friendly designed ones. This will greatly impact your operational efficiency. Does the software provide an easily comprehensible user interface to help the staff understand the information quickly and to be able to use it to make good decisions?


What service level can the software company provide?

The initial training is absolutely necessary. What good is the software if your staff doesn’t fully understand how to use the software. For larger multinational companies, training may need to be conducted in different languages. After service will also need to be available in different languages and in different regions. What is the SLA (service level agreement)? When the software goes down, within what timeframe does the software company promise to fix it. What is the maximum downtime that your company can tolerate? Will system upgrade be available and at what cost? All these are the factors that you should evaluate.


What do others say about the company?

Last but not least. What do others say about the company? In the internet era, information is widely available. Do some research! How long has the company been established, how many employees does the software company has. What past projects has the software company worked on? What their current customer has to say about the company? What do others say about its strength and weakness?

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Article by Daywey Chen, KYMC