Gene Therapy: The 3 Cardinal Rules for Optimizing Production Management
There are a host of practical tips for managing print production in the digital age—many are highlighted in this issue of Book Business. While working on a list of such tips—from effectively positioning outsource partners to support your supply chain goals to building content workflow around an XML-based strategy—I was diverted by a conversation with Howard Goldstein, vice president for strategic sourcing at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). Goldstein was recently relocated from Boston to Orlando to help oversee HMH’s major transition to outsourced manufacturing management and offshore manufacturing.
While prepress will continue to be handled traditionally at HMH, as will paper purchasing, two different models of outsource management have been launched. One is an $875 million long-term contract with RR Donnelley to “provid[e] consultative services across the breadth of the print-related supply chain on a cost-effective basis,” according to Tony Lucki, HMH chairman and CEO. The other is a multiyear print-services agreement with global information solutions provider Williams Lea, which HMH announced will manage more than $1 billion in print procurement and related services on HMH’s behalf. As part of the effort, Williams Lea employs buyers placed in HMH offices.
Goldstein noted that these models can be utilized by firms of any size, prioritizing in any order a vendor’s value proposition of service, quality and price. Clearly, for a firm the size of HMH, benefits from economies of scale are a paramount goal, and price, service and quality become the ranking order—even while demanding top performance for all three.
For Goldstein, an industry veteran with 42 years of production and supply chain management experience, the function of the production department has always been to support authors and editors with timely delivery of book product. The support function of a production department is optimized, according to Goldstein, by following three best practices:
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.