Workflow on Parade
Because it's built with Java, XML, and other programming technologies that support multiple computer operating systems, Dalim Software was able to integrate the software with Parade's AS/400 environment. The software provider continues to tweak and customize the solution as Parade requires, Kingston says.
"If I had one suggestion for someone planning to move to digital workflow, it would be to make sure you have a software company or integrator that will work with you, because more than likely, you'll need it," he says.
Indeed, Parade continues to make adjustments to its new digital workflow system. In December, the publisher upgraded its computer systems, adding redundancy and real-time backup. This keeps systems on-line in the event of a critical hardware or software failure.
"We can now replicate [duplicate] our [publishing] database every half hour," Kingston says. "If our system goes down for some reason, we don't lose much information."
These efforts are helping Parade react faster to changes, even late in the production process. "People in the traffic department are not putting together a dummy book anymore," Kingston says. "We've been able to use our people better, and increase their skills. We [even] eliminated one position. But the big benefit has come from streamlining workflow, and getting information to the plants."
EARLY ADOPTER CHALLENGES
The challenges facing early adopters of all-digital workflows are no surprise to Mary Lee Schneider, president of pre-media technologies at R.R. Donnelley & Sons, Chicago.
Last year R.R. Donnelley opened its Digital Solutions Centers (DSCs) for customers who were all digital, or going that way.
The centers aim to improve customer communications with the printing giant, through standardized print workflows and file formats. Customers can deliver their files electronically to R.R. Donnelley, evaluate soft proofs, and submit pages for correction, approval, or rejection.
"The idea is to give customers greater control over schedules, and streamline file processing," Schneider says. "They can also access jobs anytime and anywhere."