Publishing is a long and complex process. Be it print or digital, the process requires collaboration, coordination, monitoring and management. While new technology and tools have been adopted for improving the quality of specific stages, the process as a whole faces challenges that cause delays and add to the costs of operations.
We find Publishers facing the following major challenges with their processes today:
1. Lack of Standardization
Publishing industry as a whole does not define or follow a standardized process. Every publishing process is run independently with its own set of guidelines and rules. Knowledge acquired at one organization is hardly used in the other if an employees leaves and joins a new organization.
2. Absence of Well Defined Best Practices
Not much effort has been put in documenting what has been learned. The knowledge is not captured and passed onto the new workers or employees. Everyone learns on the job and this impacts efficiency.
3. Lack of Monitoring Tools
There are no tools to manage tasks undertaken as part of a production process. Most of the times all communication and monitoring happens via emails. If there are multiple content production threads, the number of contributors and communication just becomes too much to handle efficiently.
4. No Integration
All contributors work on different tools in isolation. There is no single platform that integrates various systems and allows seamless collaboration. The workflow seems broken or at best functional in bits and pieces.
5. Lack of Automation
The workflows are not defined and automated. A lot is still driven by manual intervention. Status update, feedback, querying are not automated or updated in a centralized place.
These challenges exist because a holistic effort to modernize publishing has not been made. It is not just the individual stages like authoring, editing, proofreading or designing that need newer tools but the whole process and the way publishing is managed.
Management principles, for example, of an IT project have not been applied to publishing. Tasks, schedule and quality are not tracked centrally and monitored for improvements. Since the process is not well defined and automated, reporting hardly happens.
The solution, therefore, lies in comprehensively attending to the three pillars of operations - people, process and technology. Clear workflow definition and automation is the need of the hour. An integrated platform that promotes collaboration needs to be adopted.
Capturing schedule, status of tasks, details of communications, issues reported etc. will help create a central database for reporting. Visually representing status of various tasks through a dashboard can provide a better sense of where a print or digital production stands. Knowledge of status of tasks will help focus attention to where it is needed the most. This will in turn help increase productivity, product quality and decrease operational costs.