Monday 22 August 2016

Fast Track Content from Author to Reader: Collaborative workflow management systems that work

Rahul Arora, Chief Executive Officer at MPS Limited, draws on many years’ experience, including the development of MPSTrak, a core component of their flagship cloud-based Digital Publishing Platform – DigiCore – that streamlines, automates, and optimizes the publishing process.

In this guest post he considers the need to implement a collaborative workflow management system to manage the complete author-to-reader value chain, and the associated benefits for publishers.

"A publishing workflow is a sequence of activities performed by individuals or groups to make the content available to the reader. Participation is required from the author, editorial team, reviewers, and production staff; with the publisher managing and owning the complete process in near real time.

In the past seven to eight years, much has changed in publishing workflow management. New technology, publishing models, workflows, demand from authors, and growing competition have created a demand for increased automation, efficiency, standardization, faster publishing, global visibility, and cost savings.

Publishers need a flexible and adaptable publishing workflow management system that deals with any existing multiplicity in publishing processes without creating any echo, supports future business workflow requirements, provides global visibility, and allows the business to make any required changes with no or minimum dependency on the technology team.

We have seen publishers struggling with various challenges in their workflows: repetitive data entry in different systems, inadequate data validation, no control on processes, challenges in managing user notifications and reminders, tracking work from author and providing visibility on work status, article-based or custom publishing, issue make-up, schedule management, managing payments, and integrating different internal and external components.

In some cases, publishers had over 30 production workflows, with more than 80% repetition in data entry. The resultant issues and productivity inhibitors with apparently simple looking processes would see staff doing something in a far more complex way than was necessary.

When we start to work with clients, we always carry out a “workflow discovery” workshop at the start of each system implementation. Invariably we find that many times staff don’t have a strong rationale behind following the existing process steps. The response to most of questions turns out to be “Someone asked us to do this way and we never thought too deeply about it”. In addition, there are always loose boundaries between editorial and production work and different teams doing the same things in different ways.

We recommend publishers adopt an automated workflow system through a capable and experienced partner without waiting for the struggle to peak and creating barriers in growth.

Because one thing remains true: successful organizations, the ones that ‘disrupt’ the old guard, are the ones that have figured out an end-to-end creative process that enables them to beat their competition.

The major things to consider are the platform’s flexibility to incorporate changes and a knowledgeable team that can lead and drive change. We advise clients to expect:
  • Intuitive user interface with global visibility across the publishing process 
  • Faster time to market 
  • Increased transparency between publishing process stakeholders 
  • Support for flexible business models 
  • Increase in staff work handling capacity.

We were delighted to hear from one of our customers who reported absorption of three year growth in production volume without adding any production staff when they implemented MPSTrak. Another reported a 46% increase in article-handling capacity of a production editor. Whichever system you work with, make sure it helps you deliver the capacity, flexibility and adaptability to deal with an increasingly complex publishing workflow."

Rahul Arora is the Chief Executive Officer at MPS Limited. He graduated from Babson College, Massachusetts and has a MBA from the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. Rahul led the transformation of his family’s print-focused publishing business to a larger, professionally-driven B2B media enterprise. He has led and grown some of Gallup’s most innovative consulting partnerships in the APAC region. As CEO of MPS, he manages the current operations in India and the United States, while continuing to actively engage with their client base.

MPS Limited has provided platforms and services for content creation, full-service production, and distribution for over 46 years. The business division, MPS Technologies, is a leading partner for global publishers and caters to the rapidly changing technological requirements of the publishing workflow. MPSTrak is a core component of their flagship cloud-based Digital Publishing Platform – DigiCore – that streamlines, automates, and optimizes the publishing process.

MPS Limited are sponsoring the 2016 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing. The winners will be announced at the ALPSP Conference 14-16 September. Book now and follow #alpsp16 #alpspawards for details.

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