Setting The Pace at Prima Publishing
The effort has been worth it, says Carleson. "When I first came to Prima, you could ask five different people when a particular book was going to publish and you would get five different answers. Now, everyone sings from the same hymnal."
To maintain integrity of the core data, departments and operating divisions are responsible for inputting and keeping their eye on the data that they would naturally be accountable for.
For example, production staff input paper specs and manufacturing data, managing editors create and monitor editorial schedules and some production schedules, and publishers watch sales figures and expected delivery dates.
Printers understand the goal
How are the books produced so quickly? On the editorial side, careful coordination and project planning make a difference, including use of PERT management techniques, says Carleson.
On the printing and production side, the answer is not a technology miracle, just extraordinary support from printers, says John Clark, Prima's director of manufacturing. "Our vendors make it very easy for us," he says frankly.
Good communication helps, says Clark. "We spend a lot of time talking to each other. We are all basically in the communication business, so it's important that we do that well. We know them; they know us. That has saved so many jobs for us."
Many of Prima's books are produced computer-to-plate (CTP). Sending CTP files to the printer allows Prima to skip the film output stage, Clark notes. It also permits the printer to move a book from one press to another even if the alternate press requires a different page imposition, which helps the printer by allowing quick switches to presses that are available soonest, he notes. While such time savings are helpful, Clark says that for him, the primary benefit of CTP is simply the improvement in print quality he's observed.