Most businesses have some kind of MIS (Management Information System) that is designed to drive the actions of the business. Whether you use CRM, ERP, an online project management software application, or a spreadsheet, they all can count as a MIS. Over time the quality and usability of that system can wane and leave the business with a less than effective tool for running the business.
Correcting this situation is not difficult. If this is something that irritates you as you strive to achieve a consistent on time delivery performance (with the accompanying high level of customer satisfaction and business profit) then read on.
Lack of understanding
One of the most common reasons I have come across for a MIS system losing effectiveness stems back to a lack of understanding of, and around, the system being used. There are two issues here that I would like to quickly touch upon.
The first is the lack of appreciation by team members of why a healthy system is required. As time pressures mount it becomes quite normal for people to cut corners with their tasks in order to relieve the pressure. When this behaviour leads to database entries not being completed fully, or shorthand being used unnecessarily, it can have a knock on effect down the line. In this instance the person who is cutting the corner does so because they don’t appreciate the issues this can cause further downstream. Education, possibly with the aid of a process map, can help users appreciate the importance of completing tasks thoroughly (e.g. if I don’t do this then they have do this additional work).
The second issue is a lack of practical knowledge about how to use the system. Quite often this is seen with newer members of the team who have been trained by internal members of staff who themselves are not entirely sure about the functionality of the system. This can lead to workarounds being created, methods of working that are external to the main system. I have seen businesses who are driven entirely by their workarounds and who wonder why their business performance is so hit and miss. Creating practical, user based, instructions (such as ‘Standard Operating Procedures’) and combining these with a skills matrix is a good way to resolve this issue.
Trust the healthy system
When the data is right in a business system we can use it to help make the right decisions at the right time, getting rid of the unnecessary tasks surrounding the MIS. This means that we can spend more time working on achieving the goals of the business and less time running around like headless chickens.