Planning the implementation of a new Management Information System (MIS) within an operational business sounds, on the face of it, like a one-way ticket to sleepless nights. While the end result – the smooth-running flow of quality information, accessible at the touch of a button – is crucial to improving business, getting to this point can seem fraught with anxiety.
Don’t let these fears hold back business.
By planning properly for MIS change, you’ll foresee hurdles before they happen, avoid IT glitches, and have a team that’s enthused by the prospect of working with a new system.
The first step is to prepare your team by involving them in a needs analysis of what the new MIS system should provide. Appoint a project champion to communicate with each arm of the business, create an inventory of existing MIS, and collate feedback from those using it.
The information gathered should include long-term goals and expectations to guide the design of a bespoke MIS package, or inform the selection of an ‘off the shelf’ product. As well as company-specific goals, keep in mind the more general needs of business: increased information accuracy, increased speed of operations, increased productivity, and your budget for the project.
Once the MIS is chosen, there should be time set aside to draw up procedural manuals so that employees at all levels can add, process and retrieve data. These should be created as formal documents that can be picked up and used by new people joining the company. But they should also be flexible; easily updated by the project champion to reflect changes realised after implementation. Providing manuals via the company intranet is one way to ensure they are universal to the team, and flexible.
The installation of MIS should be carried out during company ‘downtime’ to minimise the number of productive hours lost. Consider installation over a weekend – and, if possible, during the least busy business period of the year (usually August). In the first week or weeks, allocate time for the project champion to sit down with individuals or small teams to go through the way the system works. You might also inform key clients that you are investing in your business to make it more efficient for them in the long term – and warn them that this may mean some short-term delays.
Finally, make sure that the MIS you implement has a robust back up and maintenance plan for the future, and carry out regular audits of how it is used in each operation. This will give employees the opportunity to highlight areas they may be struggling with, iron out ‘teething troubles’, and suggest updates to further your company’s technological foundations.