Skyline as an “MIS” solution

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Skyline as an “MIS” solution

Like Web2Print, MIS can mean different things to different people. Within the general MIS sector this seems to have led to systems which contains numerous sub-systems, configurations, management and sometimes new hardware or configuration changes. As such, they can be prescriptive in approach, limiting your ability to adapt to change so it is worthwhile spending a little time exploring the alternatives.

 

Within this series of blogs, I will look at a few of the more relevant MIS functions related to a Print Room and how you can enable or easily replicate MIS like reports and share information without the need for what can prove to be expensive MIS systems. In today’s fluid environment the ability to quickly reformat data, report and account shouldn’t leave you with an expensive professional services charge and a long lead time. If you have or are already considering a solution (web2print) that takes documents from Users, delivers them to a Print room for production, you will likely be asked to account and report on what you have done and potentially have the ability to recharge for the work. This accounting can lead to producing Invoices, either directly or by sending the data to your Finance department.

 

So, let’s look at the three main types of reporting used by many print rooms in the first instance. But, like the Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy states – “Don’t panic”, the installation of the web2print solution will provide you with a strong start in the reporting, accounting, data visualization, it will certainly give you the time to review what you need going forward; and you can review this whilst producing the work your clients have asked for.

 

Reporting is the ability to look at the historical records and identify something, be that a job, a User, validating a cost. Within Skyline it records over 50 points of data, from the date a job was submitted, to how it was produced and more in-depth information. You can use any of these data points to create any type of report you need using common MSOffice tools and a little design flair.

 

Skyline does not stop you using more advanced tools to interrogate the data live, but do you really need that when you can export the data in a few clicks and import it into an Excel spreadsheet for analysis. Using tables, views, pivot tables you can easily create visually dramatic graphs and charts or more simply, deliver to the enquirer, the fact that this job was run on this date and was 20 pages.

Skyline data exports pulled into Excel can allow you to simply review data and check items, you can tell Skyline which fields to export meaning you can start from meaningful data, no programming or clever systems required.

 

Adding a simple filter to one field (the Account Code) allows you to see the data differently and drill down into the exact area you want to see

 

Accounting is a close relative of Reporting but is focused on producing reports that allow you or the Finance team to account for the work (recharge, address where paper has been used, or determine cost allocation). The basis of any accounting task is to determine who used the service and how and attribute the work. This isn’t difficult, with Excel filters a rudimentary system can be in place in minutes. If required, you can add formatting, tables, User forms and more complex actions as and when you want them.

 

Again, using the same Skyline data, it’s a few clicks to represent the data in a more graphical way if the raw data isn’t enough. The take-a-way point is that data can be represented in any way or format very quickly and to a high degree of customisation, what cannot be ‘created’ is the raw data that drives this. Skyline data allows you to represent your Print room in many ways, it provides the skeleton, how you choose to dress that Skelton is up to you.

 

Accounting is a close relative of Reporting but is focused on producing reports that allow you or the Finance team to account for the work (recharge, address where paper has been used, or determine cost allocation). The basis of any accounting task is to determine who used the service and how and attribute the work. This isn’t difficult, with Excel filters a rudimentary system can be in place in minutes. If required, you can add formatting, tables, User forms and more complex actions as and when you want them.

 

Again, using the same Skyline data, it’s a few clicks to represent the data in a more graphical way if the raw data isn’t enough. The take-a-way point is that data can be represented in any way or format very quickly and to a high degree of customisation, what cannot be ‘created’ is the raw data that drives this. Skyline data allows you to represent your Print room in many ways, it provides the skeleton, how you choose to dress that Skelton is up to you.

 

Invoicing completes the normal set of traditional actions, for a productive print room. There are lots of rules around financial systems, from SOX compliance and tax applicable items, to bespoke cost center allocation. It can be a complex situation, one that a lot of institutions specifically have a Finance department for with systems and workflows that allow them to manage and account for company filing or administration. You could present them with completed Invoices ready for posting but check with them to see how they would like the data, a simple list of who, what, when and how much may be enough. Again, with the Skyline data and a few clicks you can create what is needed, post it to them for them to incorporate into the financial systems, should the requirement change, its very simple to change the reporting output from Skyline. Should full invoices be required, the data is readily available, all you need to do is add the visual parts, but you may still need to provide them with the raw data to allow them to add your information to the central systems.

 

A simple Excel formula allows you to summarize the work and produce it in a simple list (invoice) or any other format you would like, you can further add grouping information like a date range or product type. You can add as much or as little to this, to make it functional or representative of an Invoice, Work Order

 

The same data can drive more complex outputs, in this example the job is broken down and used to create a charge form which details aspects of the job into different categories. Changes to the data or the way its allocated can be made in minutes, or programmatically set to generate sets of invoices (month end). It can also generate summary or consolidation reports.

 

In future blogs we will look at these any other reporting, accounting, dashboards, stock levels, management outputs that can be created quickly and easily by using the Skyline data as the basis

 

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