Meet Production Deadlines
Fortunately, you can go to a printer who has both the good sense to anticipate just such a scenario, and the technology to deal with it. Gary Oversmith of Von Hoffmann Graphics, Owensville, Mo., one of the three largest North American printers in terms of revenue, says his plant uses two electronic pre-flight specialists whose full-time jobs are to check material as it comes in for, say, a missing font or for software that's not a good match for the plant's imposition systems. So problems come up right away, not weeks or months later when the book is in prepress or in queue for printing, when losing its place in line would add to the delays in getting the missing materials.
Facing external forces
Whatever you do in your capacity as project manager, there is no getting around the fact that many outside forces — like the current state of the paper market or the market for case materials — can have an effect on your schedule.
You may fax your purchase order to the printer only to find the paper vendor has too many orders to fulfill and can't take another from your printer. If you're smart, you may already have done what Mary Lou Menches, production manager at University of Illinois Press, suggests: You've spoken to the designer and author and have worked out a plan to use an alternative stock whose ppi is so close to your original choice that you won't have to fuss with negatives for the book's cover.
"Try to look for ways out of the crunch," says Menches, who sometimes pursues an option that many project managers have never considered: going around the printer and calling the paper vendor directly. Menches offers a few tips for such negotiations. If you're fortunate, a vendor who is already planning to fulfill an order for the stock with another client may run a bit more than the necessary amount to fulfill your tag-along order.