Workflow on Parade
Ken Kingston, production manager for Parade magazine, remembers one defining moment in his move to an all digital workflow. That's when he had what he calls "a gut check."
It hit him when officials from his new workflow software provider, Dalim Software, told him they had never integrated their software with an IBM AS/400. The problem: The AS/400 is Parade's computer platform of choice.
Kingston swallowed hard. "The Dalim [Software] people calmly said they would work it out," Kingston says. "It took me a second [to recover], but I was okay with that. There were lots of issues we were going to have to work out, because we were committed. You just have to jump in and do it. But at another time, that might have been a deal breaker."
Kingston isn't alone. Plenty of other mid-sized publishers and printers are having gut-check moments as they step up to technology's bleeding edge, and implement all-digital workflow systems.
These are among the software industry's newest solutions. They promise to let publishers and printers tightly manage and automate projects, from initial concept to final delivery.
They also allow publishers and printers to access prepress and preflight services, send files electronically to the printer, track changes and approvals, without hard proofs or manual intervention.
Automating the workflow process typically takes days out of the production cycle, saving time and money, and lets publishers and printers offer a greater range of services to clients.
But for some printers and their publisher clients, all-digital workflow technology is ahead of its time.
"It's a big leap to make, [and] we're seeing more and more customers who want to make that leap," says Charles Blanchard, president of Blanchard Systems Inc., a systems integrator in New Orleans. "But many printers are reluctant to move to an all digital workflow, because if [their] customers aren't ready to go [digital], the printer might lose the customer."