Diane Burley, Chief Content Strategist at MarkLogic explains how RSuite CMS has improved productivity and reuse by ease of search across their sales and marketing departments. MarkLogic also sees RSuite being used as a central repository, not only for sales and marketing, but expanding throughout the company. As RSuite is completely rolled out, they plan to see consistent new uses.
Over the years we have worked with hundreds of publishers spanning many industry verticals. Some publishers do everything in-house, some outsource pretty much everything. The question for me is what is the definition of a publisher these days? Is it an organization that does everything from soup to nuts in the entire publishing process or is it a publisher that outsources as much as possible and only worries about brand management?
According to Oxford English Dictionary (OED) published by our RSuite CMS client Oxford University Press, the definition of a publisher and brand manager are:
Publisher - A person or company whose business is the preparation and issuing of printed or documentary material for distribution or sale, acting as the agent of an author or owner; a person or company that arranges the printing or manufacture of such items and their distribution to booksellers or the public
Brand Manager - the supervision of the promotion of a particular brand of goods
So, do these definitions define today’s environment? Let’s look at two examples:
We do everything publisher
We have worked with some publishers who like to control everything about the publishing process right down to printing and binding their publications onsite. These types of publishers are few and far between these days, but they do still exist. I can certainly understand the desire to own the entire publishing process since I am sure the company is a traditional publisher, have employed many of the people for 20 plus years, and have honed the process to be very efficient. The questions are, can outsourcing a specific piece of the publishing process drive better profits or maybe adding some key automation tools (i.e., RSuite CMS) help deliver more and higher quality content? The “we do everything publisher” is generally a niche publisher (e.g., safety information) and has not had too many competitors in their space to drive change. However, as with everything in publishing, the digital age requires publishing to deliver in multiple formats and print no longer can support the company growth. Therefore the call to automate as much of the process to really drive multi-channel publishing will continue to grow and require change along the way. What these types of publishers need to realize is that change is not a bad thing and frankly, change is inevitable. Selective automation is better than no automation.
We outsource everything publisher
Several years ago I had a rather heated conversation with an executive at a global publisher. I asked her what exactly they do in-house anymore since it seemed like all they wanted to do was to outsource the entire publishing process and enjoyed beating up their vendors to hit their quality standards and profit targets. First, I’m sure the offshore vendor deserved some of the beating up. Second, I’m sure some of blame was due to poor input from the publishers. In other words, there was blame on both sides, but the fact was that this global publisher became nothing more than a brand manager in my opinion. Other than the acquisition team, everything else was outsourced (mainly offshore). Is this the face of publishing today? I suppose that companies who are attempting to drive profitability as much as possible feel that outsourcing everything is the best alternative. Long gone are the days when the art and craft of publishing required a solid team who were dedicated to the higher cause of publishing. It’s about brand management and its about profits in this scenario.
We selectively outsource publisher
Now I am sure there are publishers that fall in between these two examples where they do a lot in-house and selectively outsource production processes. If I had to guess, I think that is where most publishers fall today. The question that still remains is which direction is the industry headed? Will publishers become so highly outsourced in their production process that they only manage their brands or will they want to continue to control every step along the way? My guess would be that most publishers are going to continue to move towards the brand manager model and outsource and automate as much as possible to drive profits because of the pressure of replacing print with digital revenue. Unfortunately that is not a dollar for dollar replacement and publishers will be forced to do something in a very short period of time or begin a slow decline until they go out of business.
When publishers look to automate their publishing process, I hope they take some time to look at the amazing results our RSuite CMS publishing clients have achieved by implementing our software. When we set out to build a better publishing automation tool, we never envisioned our clients enjoying a 50% reduction is production time, 30% increase in website traffic due to better metadata management, or 100% content processing automation. These numbers are staggering but real and we are proud of how much we have helped our clients drive revenue and profitability within their organizations.
Steven Calderwood, Director, Content Engineering and Digital Delivery at Human Kinetics explains how RSuite CMS allowed his organization to see immediate ROI by enabling in-house journal production. They've also gained a huge increase in quality control for their ebook process and can now meet ebook standards without involving third party vendors.
Sara Sharman, Editorial and Production Manager at The Institution of Engineering and Technology (The IET) explains how RSuite CMS has allowed her organization to establish an e-first publishing workflow to publish individual articles before the entire issue is complete, manage ONIX metadata, and future plans to manage video content for their IET TV department.
In this video, Mike McGinniss, SVP of Digital Technology Services of HarperCollins Publishers, explains how RSuite is a new way of thinking for their company. HarperCollins is transforming their publishing processes across multiple business units and RSuite is playing a major role to meet the new vision.
The rapid shifts in publishing over the last few decades has lead most publishers to realize that the tried-and-true processes that served them well in the twentieth century may be hindering their ability to respond to the demands of twenty-first century publishing. Oftentimes part of the solution is a revision to the tools and technologies used to publish content. Technologies and tools can serve to catalyze and support needed change in an organization, but they cannot guarantee a successful outcome.
One person's hero becomes another's zero
It is tempting to look at successful peers for leadership when looking for effective revisions to your publishing workflow. After all, if a set of technologies and tools enables others to succeed, wouldn't the same approach succeed in any similar organization? Apparently the answer is "no" based on the number of failed attempts to address digital publishing requirements. Never forget that the success you see elsewhere is not just fueled by tools and technologies. There's a lot of work involved in the transition as well.
Is it the hammer or you?
It is tempting to blame the technology or tools when a transition begins to go badly. But remember, you cannot expect success with today's tools to succeed if you apply legacy techniques when using them. The tools of an 18th century blacksmith couldn't expect to compete with those of the industrial age. By the same token, modern tools cannot hope to achieve their promise with the techniques of the blacksmith. Modernization is doomed unless the blacksmith also changes. It is easy to blame the tools and technologies when transitions fail. Doing so, however, will only return you to your past - and a slow decline as more adaptable organizaeetions overtake you.
Change is often a slog rather than a glorious revolution. Never forget that it takes real effort to support a transition. Any transition will be accompanied by resistance and temptation to return to the past. Don't forget to prepare for the effort needed to move your organization after the tools are deployed.
Think about likely objections in advance. Be ready to address the real problem that lies behind the objections. Here are a few common examples when moving from traditional to digitally-oriented processes:
"These tools are impressive technologically, but won't work for us. We need something more like our old tools."
This explanation is often heard when those using the new tools or technologies have not had the time and/or training to understand the new environment. It is a challenge to continue production while migrating to a new environment. Unless those participating are properly prepared for the additional effort and given the appropriate resources, there is a good chance the transition will not succeed.
Provide training and resources to the staff as well as a knowledgeable champion who can serve to help facilitate a transition. When identifying such a person don't assume they will be the masters of your current systems. After all, masters of the artisanal processes may not be the right fit for transitioning to a modern machine shop. The current masters are no doubt critical to the future of the organization, but if they are firmly rooted in the current approach they may be slow to adopt new approaches. Sometimes, turning to external sources for these examples can work. Consultants or contractors can sometimes ease the transition. Don't forget to look for mentors in similar organizations who have made a similar transition.
"Our customer would never accept automated formatting."
Often publishing professionals assume that the standards of the 20th century are fully applicable in the 21st century. Remember, prior to the rise of sites like Google with is sparse design and interface web sites were highly designed. While pretty under carefully controlled conditions, as browsers evolved it became costly to maintain high-design sites. Today the web is dominated by utilitarian design and interfaces.
Consider whether your consumer will notice or care about any formatting issue requiring additional programming or effort. Oftentimes formatting issues that seem critical to a professional go completely unnoticed by the consumer. In many cases faster, accurate delivery trumps artisanal design for consumers.
Do the work
Transitioning to a digital-oriented publishing strategy is challenging. It is easy to find reasons to abandon new systems in favor of the old. But remember change is inevitable if you hope to adapt to and deliver digital content efficiently. The benefits available to publishers today can only be realized if you succeed at working your way out of your legacy approach.
In this brief video, Keith Lawrenz, Sr Business Analyst & Content Systems Supervisor at SAGE Publications, explains why RSuite CMS is a great fit for publishers and how RSuite CMS has enabled SAGE to control their content. You'll hear how SAGE had tens of thousands of zip files that they couldn't begin to look at until RSuite CMS was implemented. Now, they're able to search and discover their content within RSuite.
Interested in seeing how RSuite CMS can manage your organization's content?
If you missed the RSuite CMS and HarperCollins Publishers Digital Publishing Transformation webinar which took place on June 10th, here's your chance to view it until September 9th! During this webinar, Mike McGinniss, Senior Vice President, Publishing Services from HarperCollins Publishers and Denis Wilson, Editor-in-Chief of Book Business discussed:
- Pros and cons of transformation projects
- Lessons learned from executing cross-organization and cross-functional projects
- Best practices for meeting aggressive timelines
As with everything in life, it's all a matter of the lens you view things through. Something can look rosey to one person while looking like a train wreck to another. Often times the view of a legacy content management system is dependent on where you sit within your organization, and rightly so. But many times the decision to not replace a legacy CMS is based completely on the false premise that everything is OK and IT has everything under control. In our experience, many times the IT organization is overwhelmed with projects and maintaining a legacy system becomes more difficult with each passing year.
In many publishing organizations that we speak with on a daily basis, legacy CMS' are patched together by one or two very key individuals within an organization because they happen to be the longest tenured staff and were around when the system was installed. There is generally a knowledgebase of small system idiosyncracies that these individuals know to stay away from because of either a design flaw or through implementing the system incorrectly. Having an IT person be a single point of failure is not a good business practice to begin with, but having little or no understanding of what the black box legacy CMS is doing is much, much worse. Unfortunately these situation exist at major publishing organizations around the globe. This is an outgrowth of publishers who don't want to face the reality that their system is in serious jeapordy of crashing and there is no recovery mechanism in place.
So how does each management level within a publisher view a legacy CMS? Here's an outsiders perspective:
C-Suite View - We have technology that is proven
From the top, everything looks calm, cool, and collected. Think about the duck gliding across the pond. Products are being produced, money is being collected, why do we need to change anything? Remember the duck is paddling like crazy under the water.
VP View - We can make this work with little investment
While there are issues we need to address, the technology is solid and has been proven for some time. Our team does not have turnover issues and therefore they are well versed in the CMS. Some investment might be required to patch things here or there, but we have no need to upgrade to a new CMS. Throwing more staff or budget at the legacy CMS will take care of everytihng. We should be fine to meet our strategy.
Director View - We are unable to keep up with daily issues let alone scale the system
The system has been working, but barely. The fragile nature causes daily concern that one hiccup could bring the entire production process down. Editorial is comfortable with the workflow, knows the editorial tools, but under the covers the CMS cannot be extended and is patched because the technology has not been upgraded in years. Adding more content, integrating with other systems, or adding third party tools will be extremely difficult without a large budget and a sufficient timeline to complete.
Developer View - We are so screwed
The application has been maintained by different people over time. Nothing has been documented, we have not paid support and have not received CMS software upgrades, and the underlying database has not been upgraded in years. If the system goes down, I may need to look for a job.
The Bottom Line
Every position and management level at a publisher has a different view of their CMS. It's natural. What consistenly surprises people is that a legacy CMS can only address the requirements from yesterday and potentially not address the strategy of multi-channel publishing or automated eBook creation or whatever objective because changes are difficult and the system cannot scale. Legacy systems are generally proven, but they do not generally have the stability to support the long-term business objectives and must be replaced.
If your CMS is over seven years old, has been patched to keep it running, and doesn't support your strategy, let us show you why publishers from around the globe and over 10,000 publishing professionals use RSuite every day.
On Tuesday, June 24th, at 11am EDT, please join Alan Houser, co-founder and president of Group Wellesley, Inc., former president of the Society for Technical Communication as he presents the FrameMaker to CCMS webinar, sponsored by DocZone.
Alan is a distinguished consultant and trainer in the fields of XML, XML technologies, publishing workflows, and authoring and publishing tools. Christopher Hill, V.P. Product Management at RSI Content Solutions, (makers of DocZone CCMS) will be conducting the interview.
They will discuss questions such as:
- Are desktop publishing tools like Adobe FrameMaker keeping up with today’s new business and customer requirements?
- How can component content management systems like DocZone dramatically improve the efficiency of your publishing workflows and content lifecycles?
- How can you plan for and successfully deploy component content management in your organization?
Whether you’re working with legacy content or starting your technical documentation from scratch, we hope you’re able to attend this informative webinar.