Publishing Workflows: Sluggish Silos, or High-Speed Harmony?

Updated: May 14

How to work faster, better and more sustainably as publishers, with an information ecosystem that brings out the best in every team.


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workflow



/ˈwəːkfləʊ/

noun

plural noun: workflows

  1. A workflow is the path of processes along which a piece of work moves from initiation to completion. Workflows describe how something goes from raw to processed, or from undone to done.

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It’s a romantic, clichéd image: the editor, or head of a publishing house, large desk covered in stacks of manuscripts. Behind them, shelves filled with dusty and overflowing box files.


But have publishers moved far from this exaggerated image? Away from box files, but perhaps not away from overflow. 


By nature, publishers deal with enormous quantities of data. 


Information duplication, inefficiency and overload is a pressing issue for all types of publishing company, from large trade publishers to specialised academic presses. 


Typically the overflow is digital and manifests as:

  • Folders stuffed with PDFs and word documents

  • FTPs stuffed with duplicate files from different stages of publication

  • CRM systems disconnected from vital information

  • Multiple versions of excel spreadsheets outlining critical paths, budgets and metadata

When information is not at the fingertips of those in a company who need it: 

  • To-do lists overflow

  • File-storage needs skyrocket

  • Directors schedule more meetings, with longer agendas


What if one system could handle the lion’s share of the company’s data requirements, putting information directly at the fingertips of an entire company’s staff for easy retrieval and sharing with external stakeholders?


Rod Elder, EVP North America at Virtusales, discussed in a 2021 webinar how two typical publishing departments’ workflows operate, and how a centralised approach to data could make working life more efficient, specifically in the case of Rights teams, and Editorial at the acquisitions level.



RIGHTS 

Compare a typical, modular-style working scenario within the context of a Rights team’s approach to a new publishing project:



ACQUISITIONS

Furthermore, compare a typical, modular-style working scenario within the context of a Acquisitions team’s approach to a new publishing project:



Where are the weaknesses that lead to inefficient workflows?

Typically, as outlined above, teams have evolved to have their own approaches to creating, arranging and retrieving information. Each department works with their own systems and spreadsheets, and knowledge has to be shared actively, in meetings or via email request.


Data and assets – from contracts to images to manuscripts – go through an evolution, but this evolution is not recorded and accessed in a shared company space.


Elements are squirreled away, password-protected or hidden in folders, then broken up and shared in parts via FTP servers and email, saved in multiple formats by multiple teams, and duplicated many times across a single project. Sharing assets is hard, and data storage needs grow quickly.


Compartmentalised working on a dozen systems that can’t talk to each other without a human passing the information around:

  • Slows teams down

  • Creates information gaps between busy departments

  • Creates unnecessary duplication

  • Necessitates more paper printing and email

  • Necessitates more meetings 

  • Necessitates more data storage

  • Makes sharing data costly and complicated


The Biblio suite can be configured to create a shared information ecosystem with a fantastic turbo-charged efficiency, enabling: 

  • Faster, more effective teams

  • Easy-to-retrieve information on the dashboards

  • Minimised duplication thanks to Biblio’s ability to recognise and merge identical files 

  • Less printing

  • Less data usage

  • Easy and secure file sharing


CONCLUSION

Publishers know their own processes and the justification for every step.


Working with the Virtusales team to integrate systems into Biblio isn’t a matter of reinventing the wheel of those processes. It’s a matter of using the system to support workflows, to underpin them with logical connections. To pull processes together with Biblio, overlaying a system that takes the pain out of working in a compartmentalised fashion.


Learn more about how Biblio can bring efficiencies to your teams, or contact us to speak to a publishing specialist today.