The Production ‘Traffic Cop’
I believe the answer to the ultimate question—how to send files to the printer as late as possible while still producing a quality magazine—comes down to a combination of culture, product, technology and distribution. If we demand the highest quality in our publication … the culture will support the expense such high quality exacts in both money and time. If we can save time because we’re using more automation, and therefore offer the advertising sales staff a later closing date, then we will, as it’s ultimately in our own best interest to do so. If our distribution requirements were to change, and we could print a day or two later, the allocation of that saved time would need to be discussed so it would serve the greater good of the entire organization.
Each month seems to present us with new, unforeseen challenges, especially when it comes to managing people and content against a strict deadline. Perhaps the real answer is that there is no answer except to captain the ship as best we can, understanding that everyone has to reach the same destination at the same time, but also that we have less control over what conditions we will face on that journey than we might think.