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Are You Using a Legacy Print Publishing Workflow to Support a Digital Model?

Here is what you need to keep in mind

The speed at which the dynamic publishing domain is changing into is mindboggling. And as publishers face the challenge of having to deliver more content more frequently across multiple delivery channels, multiple devices and languages that are platform-agnostic. This shift to a digital dynamic model is challenging and constantly evolving.

Most organizations do not give much thought to their workflow management system. Small teams invent their own workflows to serve their own needs, but those workflows break down when extended across departments, across an organization or across multiple organizations. A new workflow developed without an appropriate reconfiguration of organizational structure will be suboptimal, misunderstood and may be met with resistance. Moreover, digital workflows are invisible, and documenting them is an important way to understand the impact of any changes across the supply chain.

Legacy print-driven content development workflows cannot scale to support digital or platform-agnostic models. Intangible costs like editorial support continue to rise along with tangible costs of production. In an environment of fast-changing business models, publishers feel continuous pressure to leverage technology to enable operational workflows and strengthen the partner and customer experience. Technology can be a means to reduce costs and drive efficiency, but it is only one leg of the stool – without an eager team of people and dynamic workflow processes, the potential of innovative technology will not be realized.

Another point to take cognizance of is that legacy practices may be embedded in processes, tools and organizational structures. We’ve found that legacy practices can get codified or embedded in the workflows we use to produce, manage and deliver content. Often enough, these were good practices at some point in the past, but they may be limiting us now. For print products, the folio convention (i.e. page numbers) used by layout software makes perfect sense, but it can complicate efforts to sell a component or make an eBook or an index for an environment that doesn’t have pages. When new formats or uses arise, workflow often needs to be rethought.

Book publishing is often described as a mixture of both art and science, with some debate about where the line is drawn. When changes are proposed or resisted without appropriate measurement and analysis, people involved in the change effort can point to organizational culture as the culprit.

The good news is, solutions are within reach. Thoughtful investments in technology can strengthen the publishers’ infrastructure to position the organization for future growth. Publishers can accelerate internal and external workflows through advanced content and knowledge management systems through an effective change management approach. Additionally, the adoption of a proven metadata strategy can amplify this potential for innovation.

Another important aspect in evaluating the effectiveness of existing workflows and any potential changes is to identify the skills of the people involved, address any training needs, as well as evaluate how they are engaged in the workflow.

Companies operating across the book industry supply chain can improve their chances of making successful changes to their own and cross-segment workflows. As publishers embrace digital workflows, it is imperative to make workflows visible (maps, data flows, etc.), share these maps and pictures across the team, and use them as prompts to improve cross-function and cross-segment understanding.


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