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Hearst Book Group Transformed by Computers
In 1991, when Linda Palladino joined William Morrow, there was scarcely a computer to be found. Today, there is a computer on nearly every desktop of the 480-plus employee group of the Hearst Book Group, of which William Morrow is a part, says Vice President of Production and Technology Tom Oborski, who joined the company five years ago. One of Oborski's roles is to find ways to make the most of those computers to improve productivity. He told us about the latest developments
* Electronic business data exchange. For the past three years, Oborski has been exploring use of EDI (electronic data interchange) to exchange business information with vendors.
In January, the company and a cooperating supplier began testing the programming developed to date. Testing involves the Hearst Book Group sending out a purchase order in EDI format to the supplier, who sends back an invoice, also in EDI format. That goes to the Hearst accounts payable department in North Carolina, which zaps payment to the supplier's bank account.
Thanks to his own experience with EDI at previous places of employment, and thanks to the efforts of an in-house programmer who was formerly involved in book production, says Oborski, the implementation has gone fairly smoothly.
* Automated estimating. Oborski has worked to drastically simplify the process of gathering of estimates and evaluating bids. When he first arrived at the company, he began to reduce the Hearst Book Group's supplier count, ultimately chopping it by 80 percent. He then launched development of a relational database program that would store standard pricing from the 20 percent remaining; standardizing trim sizes and other book elements helped make such an endeavor feasible. As an added benefit, the fact that the remaining suppliers would be printing higher volumes for Hearst meant that they could provide better pricing as well.