Get out your calendar and schedule a regular date to review your production processes and strategies. Routinely taking a fresh look at your workflow can help you to find new opportunities for streamlining workflows, improving efficiencies, lowering costs and identifying new revenue opportunities. Bruce Jensen, vice president of sales at Transcontinental Printing, recently offered the following tips to Book Business Extra readers to help you improve your book production processes.
1. Take a total cost view. If you’re stuck in a per-thousand mentality, you’ll likely end up being penny wise and pound foolish. Today’s demand-driven best production practices often result in higher costs in some areas but lower total costs throughout the entire book manufacturing and distribution supply chain.
2. Get your in-house tech skills up to speed. While most automated job-management systems are user-friendly, production employees still need to ensure both their equipment—such as properly calibrated monitors—and skills are as up-to-date as possible to efficiently perform tasks such as uploading PDF files, using automated preflighting tools, tracking jobs throughout the production process, and reviewing, annotating and approving proofs online. If your staff isn’t technologically up-to-date, you’ll undoubtedly fail to capture some benefits along the way. Many printers will provide training, but it’s a big plus if your team is comfortable with technology.
3. Convert to PDF. This Adobe file format is now the graphic arts standard. Virtually all premedia workflows are built around PDF files. Learn your service provider’s settings and use PDF/X 1-a, a subset of PDF that restricts file content that does not directly serve the purposes of high-quality print production output.
4. Drive it digitally. Make the effort to work with your printer to digitally drive as many production processes as possible. For example, there are opportunities beginning with digital storefronts that enable book production from your desktop. There also are suites of digital premedia tools that allow publishers to plan their books, archive and retrieve digital assets, automate page production and then manage jobs online. Likewise, computer-driven pick and pack as well as warehousing systems can streamline fulfillment. These are some of important ways you can bring more speed, cost efficiencies and often higher quality to the entire production and fulfillment process.