Technology has altered how business gets done and the publishing sector is no exception. Independent book stores have given way to superstores and more recently to online and digital retailers. Merger and acquisition activity has changed the structure of the industry with smaller publishing houses disappearing and a few major publishers now dominating different industry segments. Readers are crossing the digital divide, moving from printed materials to electronic content and e-books. How content gets created, distributed and consumed is vastly different than it was even a decade ago.
While the industry has been rife with change, many publishing houses are mired in a “that’s the way things get done” mindset, electing to stay with manual processes for content management. Manual processes contribute to a tremendous waste of financial resources and inefficiencies, especially when the flow of information is curtailed as a result of an unorganized system.
Publishers with outdated manual processes will be at a disadvantage, operating with tactical inefficiencies at best or leaving significant money on the table at worst. Effective document management and workflow can reengineer processes, resulting in improvements in business productivity, customer service and profitability.
As the pace of publishing continues to dramatically increase, and as digital content outpaces traditional print, publishers need to rethink their business models and improve the way publishing and content management processes are executed to remain competitive. Working with the right content management partner can streamline workflow, reduce costs and increase efficiencies across the entire content supply chain.
At Issue: Process Inefficiencies and Increased Costs
The biggest impediments of manual processes are that they hinder publishers from executing their strategies and responding quickly as business needs change. They also inhibit the ability to share content across properties and optimize revenue.
Publishing houses have typically grown through acquisition of products or companies. While the impetus was often to bring broader content, additional properties or advanced functionality and services to readers, multiple independent workflows have contributed to complexity, redundancies, legacy applications and other inefficiencies.
Publishing workflow is complex and efficiency can make or break the organization. Most large-scale publishers produce several newspapers and magazines, manage a variety of Web sites and might possibly be involved in radio or television broadcast. In an ideal world, every editorial team would work together to share information and assets, including photos, articles, audio and videos. However, with manual processes, synchronizing content across multiple properties is not that easy.
Publishers need to aggregate information from a wide variety of sources such as authors, third-party content providers, syndicated services, scholarly journals and others. Without a standardized workflow process, gathering content, editing and publishing is challenging, error prone and often sidelined with delays.
Much like print books have given way to e-books, manual processes belong to an earlier era. An automated workflow can streamline business processes, reduce errors, ease the process of gathering, editing and publishing content while providing greater governance and cost reduction.
Turning the Page on Manual Processes
Manual processes at every stage of the publishing lifecycle contribute to inefficiencies and revenue leakage. An automated system can improve all parts of the publishing workflow process including content aggregation, authoring and publishing. Companies seeking to streamline relationships with advertising agencies, writers and editors, freelance art directors, printers and other suppliers can enhance communications and add speed to their publishing pace.
A paper-based method for aggregating information elongates the time it takes to get information from start to finish in the publishing process and increases the rate of error. Information may come in on paper, electronically or via the Web, but paper processes can be costly. Data entry needs to be done manually before content is scanned and digitized, taking resources away from more strategic activities.
Without a centralized content repository, manual authoring also contributes to inefficiencies and errors. Key challenges include synchronizing content and version control. While some organizations may have “home grown” or legacy systems in place, these are typically cumbersome, outdated or expensive to maintain.
Manual processes also prohibit publishers from having visibility across the entire publishing lifecycle. When content is centralized, editors can view all activity such as when copy is transmitted to the production department, which editors or writers are working on what stories and where they are in the review and approval process or if jackets have been proofread before they go to press.
Successful publishing operations require careful coordination between internal and external constituents, including authors, freelancers, editorial staff, advertising agencies, production departments, graphic designers, finance professionals, legal counsel and others. Without a unified workflow, publishers need additional resources to manage processes and ensure production schedules are executed on time to control costs – and may risk paying unnecessary overtime to meet deadlines.
With needs evolving rapidly and changing publishing models, organizations need to look at automated strategies that improve workflow. The right content management partner and electronic workflow can deliver new ways of providing information and streamline the publishing process.
Automated Content Management: The Next Chapter
Automated content management and enterprise-wide workflow removes the bottlenecks in existing workflows and offers additional functionality unobtainable through manual processes. Rather than every publication operating in a silo and having independent editorial workflow production tools, everything is streamlined in a consolidated system.
With electronic workflow, content is efficiently managed between internal and external stakeholders. Editorial group members can share information and assets and understand in real-time what other members of the group are working on. The right technology adds speed and clarity to the publishing process, helping to control costs and optimize information flow.
A content management system can also eliminate manual processes and duplication of effort. With a system in place, publishers can better execute cross-media strategies and electronically share content across its properties. This increases efficiencies, cuts costs, enhances productivity and frees resources to work on more strategic areas of business.
As publishers explore new publishing formats and create content across multiple mediums, including print, Web, mobile and electronic devices, an automated content management platform brings significant scalability to content operations. Large publishing houses create an enormous quantity of content, and as the organization or amount of content grows, tracking different versions of documents, accessing multiple documents related to a specific project or locating specific content becomes increasingly challenging – especially when there are hundreds of thousands of documents in a data repository. An electronic workflow that is tailored to the organization’s requirements can support large quantities of content and a high volume of users, increasing capacity and visibility.
The right content management partner also helps alleviate the need for additional infrastructure and operational management. A unified workflow automatically routes content to the right individuals and departments and provides visibility into the entire process. Organizations are able to be nimble and flexible, especially as they adapt to new consumption patterns and explore new publishing formats.
A unified workflow provides better governance, tracking and cost control while enabling publishers to standardize processes for every project. A centralized approach enables organizations to maximize cost savings by helping teams avoid duplicating efforts and streamline content development and distribution. An end-to-end unified content management platform can also potentially increase revenue by enabling enterprise-level use of content for marketing, promotional and production purposes.
Moving away from silos and stand-alone systems is a necessity for publishers that want to survive, thrive and keep pace with emerging publishing channels. Interactivity among departments and media properties via a unified workflow and content management system can improve processes, control costs and ensure rapid time-to-market for content and competitive advantage.
Working with the right content management partner can increase productivity, enhance revenue and reduce costs. By closing the book on manual processes, publishers can meet today’s editorial challenges, transform their operations and leverage best practices to maximize their efforts.
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