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  • Writer's picturePete Horwood

Top 5 Tips: Why an MIS project fails

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

It is important to remember that this is not intended as a blame exercise. This is to shed some light on to the common pit falls of how an MIS can slide down the slippery slope to failure; also the steps that can be taken to prevent these problems

1. Too ambitious or the wrong solution sold

The Problem

If the perception of an MIS project is wrong from the start then it never really stands a chance. Firstly the customer might have misjudged the size of the task in hand. .

The other factor can be that the MIS solution that was sold was a bad fit in the first place. Trying to "square peg a round hole" months down the line is a recipe for disaster.

The Solution

An MIS provider should be very clear about how involved a new MIS can be. This is particularly important for customers that are undertaking MIS for the first time.

A new project should have clearly identified milestones and goals and both the provider and the customer should have a clear understanding of what a project will entail before an agreement is made.

Any MIS company should be asking just as many questions as their potential customer. Understanding a businesses needs is the responsibility of the MIS provider. This process can then help prevent the customer ending up with the wrong solution.

2. Keeping everything the same

The Problem

This issue can be encapsulated in a couple of key phrases:

"We have always done it this way" and the MIS providers absolute favorite

"but our old system used to do....."

When confronted with these kind of statements an MIS provider has 2 options. Either change their system to satisfy the status quo or engage with the customer to ensure that this approach is really the best option.

If not properly regulated, a closed mind set approach to a new installation can hinder progress and results.

The Solution

Examining the first 2 statement one at a time, firstly "we have always done it this way" The first question that has to be asked is "why has it always been done this way" If a reason other than historical grounds can be given then this option warrants further discussion. If the only justification is historical context then its time to move out of the comfort zone

Addressing "our old system used to do...." the same question applies. The point raised might well be a valid one. If the justification is purely historic then a customer needs to try and engage with the new way of doing things.

A customer needs to then remember why they are not still using their old system if it already did everything they need, then why was the decision made to change?

A good MIS provider should engage with their customer to understand the resistance to change and help them pave the way forward.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (I don't actually know who said this but it is still very relevant)

3. People Leave with the keys

The Problem

This problem can be a massive one for a business. Unfortunately it is often one of the most common situations we at Imprint come across when an MIS project has hit a major problem.

The one person with all the knowledge of how the system works leaves and the MIS grinds to a halt.

This could have happened for a number of reasons. Perhaps the person with all the knowledge was not willing to part with it. Perhaps it was always just easier to leave "x" to sort that bit out.

The Solution

Leaving all the knowledge in one persons hands is always a dangerous prospect.

Sharing of knowledge and getting the whole team to embrace an MIS project will prevent this situation from ever happening.

You will always have those that have more knowledge and experience with the MIS system, but having a contingency plan for what happens if that person is suddenly not around anymore is vital.

An ongoing internal training regime will also help help cushion the blow of a key members' departure.

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." -Benjamin Franklin

4. Lack of development or investment

The Problem

Another common misconception with MIS is that once you have a system in place all the work is done.

As well as the problem of people leaving, the other massive area in which we see MIS projects fail is that they are never developed.

As business changes and evolves so to should its MIS and a system that isn't moving forwards is in reality moving backwards.

The reason for this can be several and one of the most commonly quoted is lack of funds being available to develop the MIS.

The Solution

First lets address the Elephant in the room "Money" as our industry constantly evolves and presents new challenges a vicious circle can happen with an MIS. Efficiencies and profits are lost because a system is not developed and in turn the system can't be developed because there is not enough efficiencies and profit to reinvest.

The reality is that new features and products in a system are great but if the system itself is not understood or being used to the best of its potential then they won't help.

A good MIS company will work with their customer to help them get their system in good working order before talking about introducing the latest new features.

Investment can mean time as well as money. A good system of continued training will pay a company back dividends.

Sometimes the solution the customer needs can be found in the system they already have and there isn't the knowledge there to implement it.

5. The MIS company stops innovating

The Problem

This one is pretty self explanatory. The MIS system being used stagnates through no fault of the end user and in turn so does its usefulness. The reasons for this can again be several. Perhaps the MIS provider has been bought out and the new company has put a stop to any further development. Perhaps the MIS company has decided to rest on it laurels as it feels what it offers is good enough.

Whatever the reason this can leave the customer stuck with a system going nowhere that can not deliver the latest innovations

The Solution

It is impossible to guess which MIS companies are going to stagnate and which are not but there are somethings that can be done that can act as indicators.

The easiest thing to do is to speak to your provider and ask them about what they are working on at the moment, or what is being planned.

In reality the customer shouldn't really need to ask.

When looking at your current MIS or a potential new MIS provider it is key to look at what they are saying they are doing. A good starting place is looking to see if a company is regularly updating their company profile and website.

Also if they have social media, look to see how active and engaging it is.

An MIS company that is keeping on top of the latest trends and creating or perfecting their solutions is key to a successful partnership in helping a business maximise their cost savings

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