Prepress?To Be or Not to Be
To be or not to be—your own prepress provider. That is the question. When considering the conversion to CTP, bringing prepress in-house is one of the first things that pops into one's head. It is true, doing your own prepress can save time and money. It may even garner greater control over the production process. In spite of all the talk about why processing your own files is the thing to do, I'd like to play devil's advocate and argue the reasons why it may not be the best practice.
The culture of your publishing house should factor into the in-house/outsourced prepress dilemma. Here are a few questions to guide an introspection of your company's culture: How many techno-geeks do you have on staff, those guys and gals who speak "Acronym" and love spending hours playing with new software?
Have most of your employees been with the company for more than 20 years? Are your employees efficient during the day but out the door every night at 5:00 p.m. on the dot? Are your employees likely to be enthusiastic about tackling digital workflow implementation?
Companies make their homes in the most logical places. Sometimes they find it's best to position offices in suburban locales, with desks overlooking lush trees or mountains. In other cases, making a thriving city metropolis home base makes more sense. Regardless of the location, geography often dictates the volume and caliber of employee it attracts. If your traditional job pool has lacked qualified IT staff in the past, chances are, you may find it difficult to find qualified digital prepress experts, too.
It's no surprise that bringing prepress in-house will require some capital investment. Does your company have $250,000 socked away for hardware, software, network infrastructure, additional personnel and training? That's a reasonable figure to anticipate. But is prepress what this should be spent on, or is it a better investment to start up a new publication, launch a trade show or develop a more lucrative online presence? If you still determine that in-house prepress is the path you wish to take, you should also be prepared to make continual investments—about every six months or so—for software upgrades and equipment upkeep.